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Take a moment to get to know some extraordinary Paul Mitchell The School Esani alumni.

Their stories speak to the power of dreaming big—and getting a great education.

Migdalia Matthews

Current Career Role: Salon Owner & Stylist, The Salon at West End, Cartersville, Georgia

Name of Graduate: Migdalia Matthews

Graduated: 10th May, 2011

Current Career Role: Salon Owner and Stylist, The Salon at West End, Cartersville, Georgia

Hair is more than just a hobby!

Paul Mitchell The School Esani graduate Migdalia Matthews is now the proud owner of her own successful salon, The Salon at West End, located in Cartersville, Georgia.

"Owning your own business, working seven days a week, staying open late to wait for just one client and giving 200 percent effort all the time, every time, is hard work." It might sound cliché, but Matthews insists that if you find something to do that you love, it never feels like work.

It was not an easy journey for Matthews, who was born in Panama, Central America. She moved to the United States with her family when she was three years old. She has always loved hair from as far back as she remembers, and from age ten would do her mom's hair and her three sisters' hair. Matthews said that after finishing high school everyone discouraged her from pursuing a career in hair and she got sidetracked.

Matthews moved to Atlanta in 2007 with her parents. She was constantly told that hair is just a hobby and she should do the right thing and enroll in college.  Eventually Matthews gave in to all the pressure and attended college for two years.

Even in college her love and passion for hair shined through. She started doing hair on the side to make a little bit of extra money. The word got around and she soon found herself doing hair for more and more students. Finally in 2009, she decided to really put her head down and follow her dreams to become a stylist. "I decided that this time I want to put my all into it and prove everyone wrong." With a renewed energy and spirit, Matthews enrolled in Paul Mitchell The School Esani in Alpharetta, Georgia in the night school program, while she worked full-time during the day.

"I am not going to lie," says Matthews, "It was extremely hard working forty hours a week, then having to turn around and attend beauty school at night. But the way I look at it is that the whole experience was setting me up for the success that I enjoy today."

While at Paul Mitchell The School Esani, Matthews put her all into the programs and specialty classes that were available. Her best experience she describes as attending Caper in Las Vegas. "Attending Caper really opened up my eyes as to how big the beauty industry really was, and how far I could go if I put my mind to it."

She found a job at a high volume natural hair salon where she thrived in the fast-paced environment and got better at taking care of natural hair, which she absolutely loves. In the meanwhile, behind the scenes, she was constantly working on a business plan to open up her own salon. An amazing opportunity arose when Matthews found out that there was a salon up for sale in Cartersville, Georgia. The timing was perfect. With a renewed drive, business plan in hand, and with her family on board, everyone pitched in to help her buy the salon.

"I was able to put in place everything I learned at Paul Mitchell The School Esani, and now my business is successful and I am doing well. My salon has been in business for a year and a half and I service a rapidly growing clientele, with myself, two other stylists and an assistant."

Matthews uses social media for marketing, and she describes it as a free way for her to reach clients and keep in touch. "I am constantly looking for new ways to reach people because I was told time and time again while at Esani that building a relationship with the client is so important. I use Instagram, Facebook and text-blasts to advertise specials in order to build that client relationship. It pays off because I have clients that drive to my salon from other cities just to get their hair done."

Her advice to those that want to enroll in beauty school but still think of hair as "just a hobby" is, "don't listen to those who may discourage you. If you find something to do that you love, it never feels like work. Hair can be more than just a hobby if you work hard and never give up on your dream."

Katherine Francis

Current Career Role: South East Regional Manager, Alma Lasers

Name of Graduate: Katherine Francis

Graduated: 21st September, 2011

Current Career Role: South East regional manager, Alma Lasers

Paul Mitchell The School Esani Esthetics graduate, Katherine Francis is currently the South East Regional Manager for Alma Lasers™, a global retailer, distributor and manufacturer of laser, light-based, radio frequency and ultrasound solutions for aesthetic and surgical markets.

As the South East regional manager, Katherine is responsible for sales in twelve states and describes herself as always having had a love for esthetics. "My goal was always to get this position and it took a lot of hard work after a major career change."

With a background in information technology sales, Katherine took some time off from IT sales to raise her kids and redevelop herself as an esthetician. Her advice to the Future Professionals who may decide on a career change is to set short term goals, figure out what you have to do, and put your head down and do it without getting frustrated.

“I set small goals for myself and followed through, starting with going to school, graduating, and then getting a job. In my first job after graduation I managed a laser clinic for a year and a half. Then I worked in sales with Alma for two years."

Katherine was recruited for the position in February 2013, after helping Alma to develop their new division, which specializes in laser assisted liposuction and laser assisted vaginal rejuvenation devices. She had only positive things to say about her esthetics program at Paul Mitchell The School Esani.

"My experience as a Future Professional at Paul Mitchell The School Esani was wonderful. My father is a PhD college professor and always said, ‘those who can't do, teach’ but I was able to prove him wrong. My esthetics Learning Leaders all came from a professional working background, and were able to give us invaluable lessons in the classroom. It was not about just teaching from the book."

With her new responsibilities and professional contacts as a regional manager, Katherine was also able to recommend some of her former classmates for jobs. "You never know who your peers are going to be. My customers are always asking me if I know any estheticians that I can recommend. I always recommend my classmates that treated school like a job, worked hard, and understood teamwork,.That I can put my name on the line for."

Sowmya Raghunandan

Paul Mitchell The School ESANI graduate sends her love from India

Paul Mitchell The School Esani graduate sends her love from India

Name of Graduate: Sowmya Raghunandan

Graduated: 5th May, 2012

Current Career Role: Paul Mitchell Education Manager for India

Paul Mitchell The School Esani graduate, Sowmya, shared her recent success story with her former educators and the Future Professionals at Paul Mitchell The School Esani, as she attained the post of Education Manager in India. Sowmya credits all the talent training she received from her mentors along with "small steps and great hard work" as she gains recognition in the John Paul Mitchell Systems organization.

Sowmya is anational educator and education manager for John Paul Mitchell Systems, managing a team of 15 educators in five different cities across India.

Sowmya manages key accounts like Taj, Paris De Salon and few more exclusive key Paul Mitchell Focus Salons. She has traveled to Dubai and Bahrain providing Paul Mitchell product education at elite salons and private academies. Last year alone, she visited up to 268 salons and taught over 600 classes, covering topics ranging from Paul Mitchell product knowledge, to cut, color, style and texture classes.

Her favorite part of her new position includes the glitz and glamour, "I personally do work on a lot of brand photo-shoots, fashion shows, and seminars," says Sowmya, "I also feature Paul Mitchell for educational and promotional activities in Beauty Launch Pad India and Salon International magazines."

Sowmya feels privileged to have attended Prev-You Asia: Singapore, Global Distributor's Meet: Hong Kong, and Global Prev-You: Las Vegas in May 2014 where she got to meet Paul Mitchell leaders who continue to show her the vision to a great future.

"I am just so very happy for the opportunities Paul Mitchell offers and such great career growth," said Sowmya about Prev-You Las Vegas, where she gained hands-on experience with industry leaders, attended celebrations with her extended Paul Mitchell family, got an exclusive look at new products and had the opportunity to take her career to the next level.

Thinking back on her days as a Future Professional Sowmya said, "I still remember the days at school when I was nervous, struggling to do simple techniques and shivering to even talk. Referring to Paul Mitchell The School Esani's owner/director Arlene Lyons, she continued, "I also remember the day you held my hand and made me realize I can be better. I dedicate everything I am now to you and my great school, Paul Mitchell The School Esani."

Her advice to those that want a successful career in the beauty industry, "please let the Future Professionals know, enrolling in school is just a first step. Hard work, dedication, zeal to learn from the best and to dream BIG is needed. When you are done, Paul Mitchell lights the path brightly to walk for a lifetime.”

Sowmya expressed her gratitude to her educators at Paul Mitchell The School Esani, and said, "I am so proud that I made a right choice of pursuing my studies at Paul Mitchell The School Esani, with most amazing mentors and Ms. Arlene Lyons who inspired everyone to grow. I am very glad with the growth Paul Mitchell provides anyone who dreams to be successful in the beauty industry."

"Dreams do come true with Paul Mitchell, and Paul Mitchell The School Esani pictured a beautiful path for my future. My journey is to inspire and spread the love."

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