Face Foundrié  Owner Launches Aesthetics School
A Face Foundrié spa. Noah Bartscher

Face Foundrié Owner Launches Aesthetics School

Classes begin in May at Savant Aesthetics Institute in Eden Prairie, also home to Face Foundrié’s new corporate headquarters.

The founder of Minneapolis-based skincare spa chain Face Foundrié is ready to take on Aveda. Serial entrepreneur Michele Henry is opening a cosmetology school, Savant Aesthetics Institute, in Eden Prairie. Classes begin May 31.

“The aesthetics industry is booming,” Henry said. “People are gravitating toward shorter degrees. But we found that aestheticians coming to us out of school didn’t always have the basics. We wanted to bridge that gap.”

Savant enters a crowded market space; in addition to perhaps the best known Minneapolis-based cosmetology school, the Aveda Institute, the Twin Cities is home to several other accredited programs including Empire Beauty Schools in Bloomington and the Minnesota School of Cosmetology in Woodbury. But as the cost of a 4-year college degree continues to rise, training and certification programs, which are considerably more affordable and quicker to complete, are growing in popularity. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is among the legislators who have championed technical certifications as one of “many paths to success.”

The market for non-invasive aesthetic treatments, which includes services like dermaplaning hair removal and cryotherapy, a process of exposing the skin to extreme cold to promote skin cell turnover and collagen production, is also growing. Currently valued at more than $52 billion globally, the industry is projected to hit $150 billion by 2030, according to Precedence Research.

Savant will occupy half of the building Henry recently purchased at 6446 Flying Cloud Drive. The other half will become corporate headquarters for the rapidly expanding Face Foundrié franchise spa business. The two are separate companies, both owned by Henry. Face Foundrié, which started in 2019 with a facial bar at Galleria in Edina, has opened a dozen units from Phoenix to Chicago, and another eight locations are under construction around the country. Face Foundrié specializes in “efficient” facials, offering 20 and 40-minute services intended to make skincare more “affordable and approachable.”

The Training Program

Savant will offer basic and advanced training courses, each 15 to 18 weeks. Tuition starts at around $11,000, which Henry said is competitive with other Twin Cities cosmetology schools. She sees big opportunity for Savant’s advanced program, which offers certification in dermaplaning, chemical peels and similar services that is required by the state of Minnesota, but not offered by all other schools.

Savant’s instructors are Face Foundrié managers, but Henry said attending the school will not become a requirement to get a job at Face Foundrié. “We will never base our [hiring] decisions on whether someone went through the Savant school if the person is a great candidate. We need staff.”

Face Foundrié can’t hire fast enough to keep up with growth, Henry said. “Some schools have long waitlists. We’re also seeing graduates who come out with misguided ideas of what the industry looks like, and how to build a book of business. We thought: why don’t we train them the way we want to see them enter the field.” (Aveda Institute does have openings for its Minneapolis aesthetics program as soon as April).

Always thinking big, Henry said she could see eventually opening training institutes in other states where they would feed into Face Foundrié spas. She likely won’t repeat the franchise model for Savant since every state has its own cosmetology regulations and requirements.

Room to Grow

Henry had been running Face Foundrié out of a converted warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis, but with the corporate team now at 15, the move to Eden Prairie, scheduled to occur in the next few weeks, will provide room to stretch. “The extra space is going to be a game changer,” Henry said.

Face Foundrié expects to close another wave of national franchise deals this spring. The company is also expanding its corporate partnership program; Sun Country, Deloitte, Peace Coffee and Athleta are among the participants that pay a fee to offer their employees access to discounted services at Face Foundrié.

“Coming out of Covid, people are more mindful of wellness,” Henry said. “And companies are expanding on what self-care looks like for employees.”

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