What's the difference between an Aveda Salon and an Aveda Institute?

Before I begin, this article is in no way intended to discredit or paint a negative picture of Aveda Institutes. The purpose of this article is to help educate and inform the biggest differences between an Aveda salon and an Aveda Institute.

It's no secret that Austin now has an Aveda Institute, yet many people are still confused about what it is and how it's different from an Aveda salon or spa. We're not surprised why you may be confused.   Both Aveda salons and the Aveda Institutes sell Aveda products.  Both sell Aveda services as well. Heck, the moment you walk into any Aveda Institute, it's as if you walked into a typical Aveda Lifestyle salon, on steroids that is. The facilities at an Aveda Institute and most reputable Aveda salons are absolutely breathtaking and incredibly beautiful. Aside from that,  the two couldn't be further apart.   First off, where you might find the typical  10 to 12 salon chairs at an Aveda Concept salon, at an Aveda Institute you might find 100 salon chairs lined up from one end of the facility to the other. Furthermore, allow me to explain three very BIG differences between  an Aveda Institute and an Aveda Concept Salon/Spa.

1) It's A School - An Aveda Institute is a school, with students who in most cases have less than six months experience cutting and coloring hair. Yes, that's right. You could potentially be someone's first haircut.....ever.   At a reputable Aveda salon, team members have typically been recruited from an Aveda Institute and then enrolled in a six to twelve month apprenticeship program where their skills are developed and certified using live hair models before allowing them to even touch a salon client.    You see, in our industry, there's a pretty big learning curve before someone truly becomes proficient at cutting and/or coloring hair.   What people don't realize is that it normally takes a couple of years before a hairstylist truly begins to understand all there is to know in order to be consistent in delivering a great haircut or color service.  A friend of mine couldn't have described it any better when he said, "Would you go to the newest, greenest plastic surgeon to get a facelift?"   Words to live by.

2) Price - The biggest difference you may notice right up front are the cost of services.   There's no question that services at an Aveda Institute are considerably cheaper than a typical Aveda Concept salon/spa.   Why?  Well, there are two reasons:  a) Aveda Institutes have to charge a nominal fee to cover the expense of products (ie. shampoo, conditioner, etc.) used during the service.  You're not really paying for anything more since an Aveda Institute is a learning environment, not a salon b) Aveda Institutes can afford to charge less for services (not products) because they've already collected their money in the form of tuition from the students enrolled in the school's curriculum. This explains why Aveda product pricing isn't cheaper at Aveda Institutes. At a reputable Aveda salon, service pricing typically matches the level of skill, education and experience the team member has. And just like any normal business, pricing is also reflective of the overhead and other costs associated with running the business.   At our South Congress location, we have 57+ combined years of experience to offer our clients.   That's another way of saying there's a whole lot of trust you can count on before allowing someone to go hacking away at your hair with a pair of shears in their hands.   As the old adage goes, "You get what you pay for...."      This is especially true in our industry.

3) Consistency - We've learned over time that consistency in everything we do is what keeps our clients coming back.   You gotta get it right every time, with every guest.    This is what builds trust and supports relationships, two of our ten core values.    Is it possible that you'll get consistency each and every time you visit an Aveda Institute?  Yes.  Anything's possible.  Is it likely?  Probably not.   Remember, an Aveda Institute is a school filled with students, not licensed cosmetologists.    These are individuals who are still learning how to hold a pair a shears and blow dryer.   To expect them to duplicate the exact haircut or color that they performed on their last visit is expecting a lot, and it's just not fair to the students.    Some individuals are okay with taking the risk.  We're cool with that.  The most important thing is that you know that going into it.   We've had a lot of clients come into our two salons and spas for haircut and hair color corrections not realizing that when they visited an Aveda Institute, they were visiting a school, not an Aveda Concept salon.

Now, having said all of that, is there a time a place when an Aveda Institute is a perfect fit for people?  Of course!  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Aveda Institutes are a vital part of the success of Aveda salons.  They provide excellent learning environments for soon-to-be salon professionals.  The students need people on whom they can practice their budding cut and color skills.     Likewise, salons need these students to learn as much as they can before they recruit them as stylists and colorists in their own salons.    We have a lot of clients who would rather not send their children to Super Cuts or  Great Clips, yet they can't justify spending the same amount of money on their kids that they spend on their own hair.   The Aveda Institutes are a perfect solution.    Perhaps you were recently laid off or going through a financial hardship.   We would certainly recommend the Aveda Institute before going anywhere else.  And God forbid you try to DIY at home!  That could end up costing you three times what you would normally pay had you just scheduled your regular salon appointment.   Just remember, Aveda Institutes are learning environments with students, while Aveda Concept Salons/Spas are  salons and spas with experienced professionals.

I hope that by sharing with you the differences between Aveda Salons and Aveda Institutes, you now have a better understanding of what to expect should you decide to try one over the other.

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