Joni Dabson, International Award Winner
← Back to All Posts

Archive for the ‘Alumni Spotlight’ Category

Joni Dabson, International Award Winner

Posted on: January 21st, 2019

Tricoci University of Beauty Culture Graduate, Joni DAbson, Wins International Award from nuts and bolts training

Joni Dabson, Tricoci University-Janesville campus graduate, wins international award in competition against thousands of entries

Impressed with her work ethic as a student, along with the ability to grasp and practice the business skills taught in the cosmetology program at Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, Campus Director Trisha Hoffman submitted a nomination on behalf of recent graduate Joni Dobson to the annual Nuts and Bolts Training Company competition.

Nuts and Bolts is a leading business curriculum provider to the beauty education space. Each year, every school using the Nuts and Bolts curriculum has the opportunity to submit a nomination for an outstanding student to their international business student competition. Thousands of entries were received from several countries, but one stood out amongst the finalists. Joni Dabson surpassed all the criteria to ultimately win the coveted award “International Business Student of the Year” from Nuts and Bolts.

Hoffman invited Dabson back to the campus on Tuesday, January 15, under the guise that she was a finalist and the school wanted to celebrate her accomplishment. However, to her surprise, the Founder and CEO of Nuts and Bolts, Jim Yates, was at the campus to present her with the real award and a $1,000 check.

“When I learned of the competition as a student, I told my campus director that I was going to win it,” said Joni Dabson, Professional Cosmetologist. “She helped keep me motivated to work hard, and now I’m overwhelmed that I did it. I actually won it!”

“I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments and this award,” said Trisha Hoffman, campus director. “I am looking forward to watching her career blossom.”

One thing is certainly clear from the celebration that took place at Tricoci University’s Janesville campus, if Joni Dabson sets her mind on accomplishing something, she will get it done. Although that’s not really a surprise, as that seems to be a common sentiment amongst their staff and students.

1st Place at the Full Blooded Barber Battle

Posted on: June 11th, 2018

Bridgeview, IL Barber Student Jose David Ostolaza takes first place in Full Blooded Barber Battle

Born in New York and raised in Puerto Rico since he was seven years old, Jose Ostolaza had a very difficult childhood.  His father was involved with the wrong people and because of that, so was he. “I always enjoyed cutting hair and embraced it more after I decided to change my life and agreed to move to Chicago. I worked in a couple of shops, but I realized I was just going to be a chair barber if I didn’t get my license. I wasn’t just looking for a barber license, I wanted more as a professional and Tricoci University was a perfect choice for me. I knew that I would develop other skills that other barber programs don’t offer.”

Jose competed and won first place in the Full Blooded Battle because he wanted to prove to himself that he truly is the best in the industry. “In competition, I represent Tricoci University and demonstrate that this university has a solid barber program. I also wanted that belt so much. You have to realize how special we are and how a haircut can impact a person’s life. Not to be afraid to fail because the only way for someone to succeed in life is to fail and get right back up.”

“With the amount of experience that I have, I was able to make my dream come true by winning first place trophy in the Full Blooded Barber Battle. Not very many people can say that they’ve won trophies or a belt. That means a lot to me and it continues to motivate and reassure me that I’m on the right path towards my career as a barber. Winning that battle has been one of the greatest moments for me here at Tricoci University.”

About Jose

His Favorite Cut

The Fade, you can’t go wrong with a good fade.

Aspirations for the Future

To become a licensed barber and return to be a Tricoci University educator. One of my dreams is to also go to Dubai for a beauty show.

His Favorite Barbers

  1. Me
  2. @bombythebarber
  3. @joelmasterbarber
  4. @ricarbarber
  5. @carlosbarber_32

Contact Jose

Instagram: @jose_david_allstarbarber
Facebook: @josedavid.ostolaza


Becoming a Celebrity Hairstylist with Alex Brown

Posted on: March 7th, 2018

Celebrity hairstylist Alex Brown has come a long way over the last 10 years – from her tiny hometown of 116 people in Minnesota to jet-setting all across the world from London and Paris to Dubai and Sydney. In between clients, she took a minute to talk to us about how she became a celebrity hairstylist.

“I’ve always wanted to move to a bigger city and become a hairstylist. In tenth grade, I started Googling ‘best, coolest hair schools in Chicago’ because my sister and I were like, ‘let’s just go to Chicago,’ Alex explains. “L.A. seemed too far away and New York seemed too scary, so we figured Chicago is still close to home, but it’s still far away. I remember looking at the Tricoci University and thinking ‘this is the coolest school, I have to go there!’ I just wanted the newest, coolest beauty school and after looking, it seemed like the nicest, most current one.”

Alex graduated from Tricoci University’s Cosmetology Program in 2009 from the Chicago NW campus and immediately went to work. “One of my teachers at Tricoci University approached me a few months before graduation about an upscale salon in the city called Salon Buzz that had a training program where I could assist. I went in and gave them my resume, ended up interviewing and getting hired. That recommendation changed my whole career.”

Train with the Best

Salon Buzz’s training program is notoriously strict and brutal on new stylists. Alex not only survived but thrived in the training program for the first 2 years and 9 months of her career. During that time, she assisted two of their top stylists in the salon learning as much as she could and gaining more and more clients of her own. She not only became a stylist for Salon Buzz, but was also asked to become a trainer during her last 3 years with the company as well. The busy salon taught her structure. And at the age of 22 she was doing over 15 clients a day. That’s when Alex told us something we never thought we’d ever hear anyone in the beauty industry, let alone of our graduates say. She said, “I couldn’t just sit behind this chair and get ‘fed’ clients every day, all day.”

If you do a quick calculation of how many clients she was averaging, and how much a top stylist and a high-end salon in downtown Chicago would charge, well let’s just say the money had to have been great.

But what you quickly learn from talking to Alex about the journey throughout her career is that she’s not in this job for the money. At the height of her career at Salon Buzz, and booked solid with clients, Alex had started thinking about making her lifelong dream a reality – by moving to L.A. and becoming a celebrity hairstylist.

Invest in your Future

Right about then is when Instagram had started to become popular and stylists were getting more and more recognition and celebrity-status of their own. And while Alex wasn’t quick on the IG train, her friends convinced her to join them in Toronto to take a class with THE Jen Atkin. And if you don’t know who Jen Atkin is, shame on you. She’s what the New York Times calls “The Most Influential Hairstylist in the World,” counting top models Chrissy Teigen, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Gigi and Bella Hadid as some of her most loyal clientele.

“The class was expensive. I literally thought to myself, okay, if I go to this class I’m going to try to find a way to work for her after.”

Take Chances

With a plan, she went to Toronto. During one of the lunch breaks in the middle of class, Alex walked straight up to Jen’s assistant and asked her how to get a job working for her. Because that’s what it takes!

The assistant explained, “You just have to be living in L.A. Take down my email, and if we need someone, we’ll contact you.” And like that they exchanged emails. 4 months went by before Alex moved to L.A., and then she emailed her.

Alex said, “I emailed her assistant just so she would remember me, like ‘hey, I’m moving to L.A., what are some good areas to move to?’ I mean, I didn’t know anyone in L.A., and she kinda told me some places, but that was it. And about 2 weeks later, just after moving to L.A. I was in a FedEx printing off my resume – like I was just going to print off 50 and just go get a job – and while the resumes were printing I’m scrolling through Instagram and see that her assistant commented on one of my posts that they needed an assistant THE NEXT DAY. Literally, I started balling. I was like ‘I got this.’”

Alex assisted Jen Atkin at a salon the next day and immediately became one of her three assistants.

“Everything that I kept wanting to happen, kept happening. They’d be going to Kim and Kanye’s house and I’d think ‘when do I get to go there’ and the next week I’d be there. They’d be going to Fashion Week and I’d think ‘how do I become THAT assistant?’ and 2 weeks later we’d be in Paris at Paris Fashion week.”

Make Sacrifices

“I knew moving to L.A. what my goal was and that I was only there for my career. I would be at a Lakers game and I would have to leave in the middle to go to work. There was nothing that she asked me to do that I wouldn’t do.” And because of that, she worked alongside Jen on celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Bella Hadid, Chrissy Tiegen, Olivia Culpo, Khloe Kardashian, and Kylie Jenner styling hair all across the world from London and Paris to Dubai and Sydney.

“I think everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, but they aren’t. It’s so hard to find good assistants, with common sense and a normal personality.”

Follow Your Heart

4 months before Alex stopped working for Jen they were jet-lagged at 4 in the morning working on their laptops in Qatar when Jen turned to her and said, “Alex, if you stopped working for me do you think you’d have enough work to do?” And the answer was ABSOLUTELY. For 3 years they had spent every waking hour together, traveling, working out of hotels and airports, and Alex knew everything about her, but it was becoming time to move on.

“I had always wanted to experience what the L.A. celebrity world was, and it was just so not me. I’m such a homebody and I like to have structure, and I just wanted my life back.”

Alex moved back to Chicago and opened up her own, private Parisian apartment-style salon in the West Loop and now has the best of both worlds. She still works with Jen, dividing her time between Chicago, New York, and L.A., but now she does it on her own schedule. Time will tell what Alex will tackle next – we guarantee it will be something bigger – but for a celebrity stylist who travels the world with the top celebrities and owns a private salon in Chicago, call us impressed and proud to have you as a Tricoci University alum.

Alex’s Advice for Future Stylists

  • Show up and be on time.
  • Don’t assume it’s too big or too far.
  • Build your own luck.
  • Don’t assume everyone else has the same dream.
  • Put yourself out there and go for it.


Contact Alex

Instagram: @alexbrownhair

Brittany Bottenhagen Goes to Bootcamp

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017

Brittany Bottenhagen isn’t necessarily the prime candidate for summer camp, per se, but she is an excellent candidate for James Ryder’s illustrious makeup focused Bootcamp in Los Angelos. Cosmetology and Esthetics students are handpicked from around the country to attend James Ryder’s highly coveted Makeup Labs Bootcamp, which means getting in is like a scene from Mean Girls. “I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school. I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy.”

Brittany, like the majority of the students who’ve attended, got accepted by attending his 2 part, 10-hour workshop held at the Marriott Hotel in Oak Brook, IL. “The last hour of the second half of class we could create any fantasy look we wanted, and based off if they liked your work, they’d invite you to the bootcamp. I showed his partner, Olivia, a picture of the fantasy look I wanted to do to get her opinion and I was going to do a mermaid. She then says ‘Oh, James didn’t tell you?’ And me confused, I said ‘No, didn’t tell me what?’ Then she proceeded to tell me and all the other 45 people in the class that we couldn’t do a mermaid look. I found a geometric kind of looking picture that I decided to do and I pretty much just said let’s hope for the best because I really wanted to be invited to bootcamp.”

James Ryder and his assistant Olivia are notorious for their stone-like expressionless faces during the final creation of looks. They walk around not saying anything and not giving any hint of whether what you’re doing is good or bad. Can you say stress? However during this particular workshop, while Brittany was in the middle of doing her look, their other assistant, while heavily eyeballing her work, said ‘I like it’. Wait, whaaaa?

Brittany had decided to go to cosmetology school because she had always known she wanted to do something different. Never really being into the whole “traditional schooling, go to college for 4 years thing,” she had always been interested in hair and makeup. Then after a year of being out of high school and still just working, and not being very happy with the life she was living, Brittany took the plunge and finally signed up for Tricoci University’s Cosmetology Program at the Glendale Heights campus.

So as the timer went off, they called Brittany and about 9 other people up front; she was nervous. James meticulously went through each of the final looks and let everyone know what he thought about their work. When he came to Brittany, though she was nervous that he wouldn’t like it, he invited her to the James Ryder Makeup Labs Bootcamp.

While at bootcamp, Brittany met some wonderful people and role models that she’ll “hopefully be in touch with for the rest of my life.” Brittany and the other “campers” were taught what it would be like in the worst possible scenario on a movie, TV, or magazine setting. And on the third day, they learned prosthetic work – which was incredible. Brittany had a very rough start to the week and thought that maybe she wasn’t up to par with the other students. And from the start she thought, maybe she didn’t deserve to be there. When the last day came around something had changed. She started working a little bit faster and a little bit harder. She was getting look after look done, including her very last look which was her most intricate and detailed. Once she was done and James was about to shoot the look, he was so impressed he told everyone to look at her work and what a beautiful job she had done. And on that Wednesday night, they made her group leader.

Brittany chose Tricoci University because she knew it was a reputable school and she had been to Mario Tricoci Salons & Spas before and they had always done amazing work. When she came to TUBC to get her tour, she says she was greeted with nothing but smiles. All the students she saw looked like they were actually enjoying themselves, as where when she had visited other cosmetology schools in the area, “I definitely got a very different vibe.”

“Some advice I have (for other students) is just to push through no matter what – and get your signoffs done! I hit a wall probably about a couple of months ago and I finally got through it. I’ve just been pushing myself to make sure I graduate as soon as I can. Just do all you can to keep your attendance up and always be kind to everyone you’re at school with.”

“To all my teachers and all the staff at TUBC I just want to say thank you. All my teachers have been nothing but supportive and wonderful throughout my whole career at TUBC. I feel so lucky that I started at such a great campus and I have such a good relationship with all of my teachers.”


Brittany’s ride or die YouTubers and Instagrammers are definitely Nikkitutorials, Jeffree Star, and Manny MUA. “I feel like I have a similar personality to Nikki, and just her mannerisms and she always does such BEAUTIFUL work that it’s hard not to love her. I like Jeffree and Manny because they’re honest about the products and they don’t sugar coat things. And Jeffree’s product line is AMAZING as well. I have about 25 of his lipsticks, 3 of his highlighters and his makeup palette.”


Instagram: @brittanybottenhagenmua
Facebook: @Brittany-Bottenhagen-MUA

New Spa Owner, Bernadette Munguia

Posted on: August 14th, 2017

Tricoci University Alumni to Owner of Heavenly Handz Day Spa

One of Tricoci University’s Highland campus graduates will soon be named owner of her own spa! Bernadette Munguia graduated from the Esthetics program in 2013 as a Massage Therapist looking to increase her revenue. She also suffered from acne and was determined to help herself and others who suffered from the same.

“My passion is making people feel better about themselves. I chose Tricoci over the others because I felt welcomed right away. I was impressed by how much was offered in the program and how they were willing to help me with anything they could so I could achieve my dream career.”

Heavenly Handz was established in Hobart, IN in 2004, but after 12 years, the previous owner was ready to retire and gave Bernadette the opportunity to keep it going. In January of 2017, Heavenly Handz Day Spa officially reopened with new ownership and new services for its clientele. Heavenly Handz offers massages, full body waxing, aromatherapy wraps, body exfoliation, paraffin dips, scalp, foot, and back treatments, in addition to facials and chemical peels, eyelash applications, eyelash extensions, makeup applications. They now also offer discounted packages called “clouds” on some of their most popular services.

“Heavenly Handz Day Spa is a spa where you walk in as a stranger and walk out as a friend, we give our all to everyone. It’s also a place where you can go and not break the bank. Many people live pay check to pay check and don’t get to “treat” themselves because if it. We say if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of others and that’s why we do what we do. Honestly, I always said I wouldn’t own my own business. I didn’t want the hassle of the call offs or the stress of bills and the embarrassment of closing my doors. But I have a GREAT support system and a partner who is absolutely amazing and we back each other up every step of the way so all of those worries are no more.”

We asked Bernadette where she gets all of her inspiration from and what we found is that’s not an easy answer. “First, all of our clients that have stood behind us every step of the way and have supported our small business this far. We would be nothing with out them. Second, my business partner Meghan Cervantes. Shere assured me that we would be in this together and work side by side and we did. We did for 6 years prior to this, overcame huge obstacles that were thrown at us, and we didn’t let it break us apart. We always say ‘the best is yet to come’. And last but not least, I do all of this for my children, they are my world. As a parent, we teach our children the way of life, but if you take a step back you realize that they are actually the ones teaching us. Teaching us patience, how to love, and how to be strong. And for this, I will always be grateful. As I always tell them, I would give up my last breath to tell them I love them.”

“One piece of advice that I would give to any current student would be to NEVER give up. Even when you feel like giving up or just walking out, DON’T. Because sometimes the mountain you think your climbing is just a grain of sand.”

Contact Heavenly Handz Day Spa

710 N. Hobart Rd. Suite C
Hobart, IN 46342
Phone: (219) 945-1940
Facebook: HeavenlyHandzDaySpa

Advanced Airbrush Makeup

Posted on: July 19th, 2017

Joe Orteza attended Tricoci University’s Peoria Campus as a full-time student and recently graduated from the Cosmetology program in 2017. During his time at Tricoci University, he’s won 1st Place in the Esthetics category in the Chicago NW Barber Battle for this airbrush makeup look, 1st Place in the Tim Burton Inspired Student Competition, 1st Place in the Peoria campuses Fourth of July Makeup Contest, 1st Place in the Peoria Campuses Finding Dori Makeup Contest, and was a finalist in Tricoci University’s “Rock The Color” Student Competition.

Products Used

Dinair Airbrush Makeup
Joico InstaTint Color
Redken Triple Take 32 Hairspray
Badger Airbrush (airbrush and compressor)
Stencils (Joe’s were cut by hand)

Special Thanks

Model: Rachel Stieghorst
Videography/Production: Erin DiGangi

The Man Behind the Airbrush, Joe Orteza

TUBC: Joe, what was your inspiration for this airbrush makeup look?

Joe: I took inspiration from Japanese anime and steampunk. Outside of that, the people that really get my blood flowing include Jaclyn Hill, Manny Mua, Laura Lee, Jeffree Star, luvekat, and mashed up_makeup to name a few.

TUBC: Why did you choose to go to cosmetology school?

Joe: I’ve been a freelance artist and fine arts teacher for a long time, and saw hair and makeup as a new medium for me to work with. Mario Tricoci is a name in himself. I’m familiar with his salons and spas. I know he is also a true artist and pioneer in the field. Also as a teacher myself, I felt that he would be able to translate his knowledge and skill into the set curriculum. Now that I’ve graduated I’ll continue to teach Fine Arts but I’ve also opened a new hair salon with my business partner Tia Callaway in Peoria called “Shear Savvy”. The salon officially opened July 3rd, 2017 and our grand opening will be held on Sept 30th. Our salon specializes in hair color trends, haircuts, and all undercut and side cut designs. We are only a 4 chair salon in order to maximize our client’s needs.

TUBC: Did you always want to open your own salon?

Joe: Yes! My older brother and mother are both cosmetologists. Also, growing up, my family owned a salon for 10 years. Perhaps it’s in the blood.

TUBC: If you could give advice to someone currently attending TUBC, what would it be?

Joe: Go to class on time, and own every day you are there! Never stop being a learner. Don’t be afraid to compete, and show off your skills in the student competitions and like I did in this airbrush makeup tutorial for Tricoci! I would also like to thank all of my teachers and administrators, as well as my friends from Tricoci University’s corporate office! I would like to thank my classroom skills teacher, Ms. Jenn, who taught me all my basic skills and a pretty mean fade! I would like to thank my floor teachers, Ms. Emily and Ms. Jess, for allowing me to be a Diva on the floor, and sharing their knowledge and guiding me. To Ms. Vanda, my makeup guru, who always gave me sound advice. And lastly, for the friends Marcy, Laura, Aaya and Jess M. who graduated before me, thank you for sharing your skills with me and assisting me on many projects.

Contact Joe Orteza

Instagram: @joeorteza


Shear Savvy

3128 E. Washington
St. East Peoria 61611
Salon: (309) 966-0650
Joe Orteza: (815) 878-8412
Tia Callaway: (309) 415-0231

Bridal and Editorial Makeup


Facebook: /campbridebeauty
Instagram: @campbridebeauty

Featured Artist in Lividity Magazine, Jessica Watkins

Posted on: November 1st, 2016

39-year-old Tricoci University Elgin esthetics graduate and mother of 3 kids, Jessica Watkins, started her career as an esthetician later in life than most. In 2015, she decided to attend Tricoci University for esthetics and fell in love with school. “I never wanted to leave actually. It was such a great outlet for me and I thoroughly loved the entire staff and all of the students. For me it was kind of a culture shock going to school with all of these 20-something kids, but it was so much fun and everyone was so kind. No one even gave it a second thought and honestly it was more on my mind than anyone else’s.”

Prior to going to Tricoci University, Jessica was in banking during her early 20’s and then later left the business world to have a family. She stayed home with them throughout their young formative years and worked within their school as a lunch lady. But throughout all of it, she has always maintained an artistic sensibility. “Through my love of makeup and all things gore, I couldn’t find the right path to take in order to make this evolve into a career. So I thought, ‘what is the base of any makeup? Skin. And decided it would be a great idea to go to school to learn about the foundation of skin.”

Through esthetics she learned a lot about skincare and is now working at Anne K Salon and Spa in North Aurora doing facials, makeup and waxing. “Oh my God, do I love waxing. I’m twisted I suppose. But [at Tricoci University] I got to build on my love for makeup more on the beauty side and kind of discovered that I loved doing [waxing]. [Makeup] is just as artistic as anything else and I really love it.”

Jessica saw that James Ryder from Ryder Makeup Labs was going to be visiting the Elgin campus and she did a little research to find out who he was, what he’s done, and what he does in terms of the boot camp he offers. After a little research into his star-studded past with his A-list clients like Reese Witherspoon, Katie Holmes, Scarlett Johansson and as Vincent D’Onofrio’s personal make-up artist and wig specialist for The Cell, which received an Academy Award Nomination in 2001 for Best Make-up – she said “I’m a determined person and I said right there to myself that I’m going to get into that boot camp.”

James came out and spoke with the school and invited them to join in the workshop he was doing that weekend.  Jessica decided it would be a great investment. “[James and Olivia] make you aware they’re going to be watching you and expecting the best from you. I went in with a plan but it was nerve wracking because of the pressure.” She had a few moments to speak with James Ryder’s assistant Olivia, who, for the last look of the evening, steered her in a different direction than she had originally planned. The last look was a free for all and she said, “make it big, make it fantastic.”

When all was said and done and James brought Jessica and her model up before the large group, although she was glad she took Olivia’s advice on the change of direction for her makeup application, in the end she wasn’t chosen to attend the boot camp. Jessica thanked James for the opportunity and asked him what she could have done differently. She knew there was also an application process offered to be selected for boot camp and when she asked him about it, he referred her to his website.

Later that week she gathered up her courage and sent an email to Ryder Makeup Labs about the boot camp. Within an hour, she received an email back stating the following:

Please return the attached application along with the required submissions within 72 hours. Good Luck!

“I was like oh crap, what do I do. This was Monday and I have school all week. Where am I going to find 72 hours to do all this?!”

The next day Jessica went into school and told her fellow students and staff what she needed to accomplish in the next 72 hours and everyone was so supportive. She received letters of recommendations from the students who modeled her looks, her teachers that believed in her talents, and after 71 hours of intense, hard work and with 1 hour left on the deadline, she hit “submit.” And then she waited.

A week went by and as anyone would be, Jessica was a bundle of nerves. Then she got the call. “We want to invite you to [Ryder Makeup Labs] June boot camp in LA.”

Jessica flew to LA and met the other 6 girls in the boot camp who she had previously connected with in a group on Facebook. “We met up and went to dinner and right from there we all became friends. We had to. It’s such an intense experience that if you don’t cling on to these people and make them your family, you’d be lost.”


At 8am the next morning the experience began. Everyone was on pins and needles thanks to James’ funny yet terrifying “military boot camp” video Facebook post to the group. And though everyone was super nice, James, Olivia, and Kelly started the morning by saying “You might cry. This is intense.” And within a few hours Jessica and the other boot campers were putting makeup on models. For most of them, this was their first experience with a photo shoot. And just like you would expect of a boot camp, they were getting yelled at. James would give Olivia, his assistant, “the look” and she’d start into you – “Go faster! Make this pop!” From 8am to 6pm for the next week they worked constantly on their feet with little breaks. At night, they would then meet as a group to discuss the day and do homework. It was intense.

The final day of boot camp ended with a mock movie shoot. Using a script, they each had to develop the makeup for the characters of the movie. “If someone got punched then they are going to have swelling or bruising, if someone got stabbed you had to create a stab wound.” With an hour of sleep, they worked tirelessly from 8am to 8pm. “I really think that gave us a taste of reality, if this is what we want to do and this is the industry we wanted to work in.”


One of the looks that was created by Jessica during boot camp was featured in Lividity Magazine. “[This look] was a little bit a departure from what we were doing. It was regal and elegant and we were used to doing dark and sultry. It was a thrill to see it in the magazine, it brought tears to my eyes when I saw the finished product.”


“I have a lot of things happening right now. I work a few days a week at a spa and then I also have a studio space in Naperville. In my studio I do facial waxing but it’s meant for me to practice makeup and prosthetics. I’m hoping to grow my skills. I will always pursue education and learn as much as I can and I will always practice as much as I can. I’ll never be perfect but that won’t stop me from trying. James and Olivia are so supportive and tell you ‘you’re going to go home and start booking jobs’ because they have every confidence that you can do it.”

And Jessica, you should.


Erica Campos, NATVA Winner and Tricoci University Alum

Posted on: September 7th, 2016

By Erica Campos, Tricoci University Cosmetology Alumni

My experience as a NATVA bronze medal winner was incredible. I didn’t expect to win. I entered the competition to have fun and to see how creative I could get. Being a part of the competition really helped me get out of my comfort zone and grow confidence as a stylist. I love doing hair so being a part of the whole event was like a dream to me. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say that Wella did an awesome job at making us feel like we were all long lost family.

The weekend we arrived, they had a meet and greet for us the first night for us to get to know everyone and kind of hang out. On Sunday, they provided a breakfast for us in the morning and we practiced our hairstyles, then we rehearsed how we were going to walk on stage at NATVA. During rehearsal the day before the show, I was practicing the hairstyle and I kept thinking to myself, “Is this real?” Reality didn’t want to sink in.

The day of the show, we started prepping and working on our models all morning. Then we took a break for lunch, and after we did a few touch-ups on their hair. We then walked over to a different room for a photo shoot and took a few pictures. Afterward, we had dinner and there was a model viewing, meaning they had all of our models standing on a platform for everyone to see them up close. After the model viewing is when the show began and we were backstage constantly lining up and getting queued of when to walk on stage. When they announced the winners, the show ended with confetti everywhere and an announcement of where the NATVA after party would be. It was amazing.

Altogether, I definitely would do it all over again and I would encourage any new stylist to take a chance and test their skills in competition. It was the best thing that’s happened in my career as a stylist.

Alumni Spotlight: Latoyah Smith

Posted on: March 22nd, 2016

Master Stylist, Educator, Entrepreneur,

Tricoci Graduate – Latoyah Smith
Latoyah Smith

 “My goal is to change the world, one head at a time.”

As an educator for Design Essentials, a partner stylist at Indique, and an independent contracting stylist at NBC Towers for Steve Harvey TV, Latoyah Smith strives for complete client satisfaction with every person she touches; starting with a very thorough consultation followed by above and beyond customer service. This is why her extension installations and color creations keep her faithful clientele, both old and new, coming back for more.

LaToyah is a highly talented hair stylist who has been practicing hair care professionally since she was 12 years old and she received her cosmetology education from Tricoci University of Beauty Culture. LaToyah has since furthered her education and given herself additional exposure in the industry by receiving master training in hair color, extensions and natural hair care.

During her career, Latoyah has trained with some of the industry’s top professionals at Mario Tricoci Salon and Day Spa, Redken 5th Ave, and Design Essentials, which allowed her to style, teach and assist in hair expo shows, photo shoots, wedding contracts across the country.

See Latoyah in Action

Latoyah will be coming to Tricoci University’s Bridgeview Campus on Wednesday, March 30th from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. Interested in hearing her speak? Contact the campus directly for more information.

TUBC’s Bridgeview Campus
7350 West 87th Street
Bridgeview, IL 60455

Check out her work

Contact Latoyah

Latoyah C. Smith
Master Stylist – Educator – Entrepreneur
Phone: (773) 368-4046
Instagram: @mytoyart
Changing the World one Head at a Time”

Alumni Spotlight: David Garcia

Posted on: March 7th, 2016

David Garcia graduated from Tricoci University in 2008 and from there, has skyrocketed his career as a successful stylist, educator, and Instagramer. He’s received extensive training from some of the most prestigious artists in the industry, including Sam Villa, Sonya Dove, Nicolas French, Martin Pearson, Anthony Cole, Diane Stevens, and countless others, including one of his biggest mentors, John Gialluisi, Creative Director for Mario Tricoci Salon and Day Spa. David works full-time at the Mario Tricoci Salon and Day Spa in Arlington Heights, IL but his work goes far beyond his typical working hours. Some of David’s most famous work was done outside of the salon in collaboration with renowned editorial photographer, Peter Kulak and Factor Makeup Artist, Sang V Le, and can be found on the pages of some of the hottest fashion and beauty magazines.



Photographer: Peter Kulak
Hair: David Garcia
Makeup: Sang V Le
Model: Michelle Martin @ Model Logic


Photographer: Peter Kulak
Hair: David Garcia
Makeup: Sang V Le
Nail: Ashley Gregory @ Ford Artist
Stylist: Kate Loscalzo
Model: Brianna Peeples @ 10 Management


Photographer: Peter Kulak
Makeup: Sang V Le
Stylist: Joze Rodriguez
Hair: David Garcia
Model: Gabrielle Eden @ Ford Models


Photographer: Peter Kulak
Designer: Vesta Adomonyte
Hair: David Garcia
Makeup: Lee Stewart @ 10mgmt
Model: Catherine Adams @ 10mgmt


A Q&A WITH the man himself

Why did you end up choosing to Tricoci University?

“Before enrolling at Tricoci University, I was working for Mario Tricoci and I was guided by my manager at the time to enroll to the Tricoci university. I had originally applied for a nail assistant job listing. My thoughts were just get my foot in the door and I’d be able to make my way into becoming a stylist. 7 years later, I am grateful for my education at TU because they provided me with the resources that have turned me and my career into who I am today.”

What advice would you give our students on how to be successful?

“The biggest piece of advice I could give a future professional is to never give up on your personal and professional education. Throughout my career, I’ve found that it comes down to balance. Balancing time, money, and priorities is one of the hardest things for us, as artists, to do. I’d always recommend having a separate savings account for education. The best feeling is taking classes and soaking up the energy from other like minded people. I highly recommend taking classes at the Redken studios in New York and The Wella Studios in LA or New York. Put yourself first… because you are worth it. I could go on forever…”

What was one of your fondest memories at Tricoci University, and how did it help you grow as a stylist?

“Honestly… this might sound a bit cliche… but I’m someone who learns from his mistakes, and a particular moment that resonates with me is a time when I first got on the floor in beauty school. I thought I had it in the bag. I was ready for whatever came my way, or so I thought. I then met my first long layer guest. She was a tall beautiful Asian woman with long beautiful hair and it was past her shoulders. Long story short, I didn’t fully comprehend the over direction within the long layer to keep the long hair long. So needless to say, she was very upset and cried about the whole thing. I don’t blame her… a small trim turning into a perfect mullet…. ouch. I’ll never forget that mistake because my goal is to never make someone upset about their hair. From that moment forward, I was on a mission to change the way I looked at hair and was ready to challenge myself into understanding my craft fully.”

What if your favorite haircut or style to do?

“My favorite style to cut will forever be variations of the bob. It’s a look that’s changed the industry in the 1920’s and is a look that still continues to empower women on a daily basis. There is something so gratifying about nailing the perfect bob. I still love me a good men’s fade though. I consider myself a very diverse cutter and that’s why I enjoy my craft. No two haircuts are ever the same, nor should be!”

How did you get into doing magazine work? What would you tell our students that want to get into doing the same kind of work?

“Magazine work is honestly a hobby for me. I met a makeup artist, one fine evening, on the TRAIN of all places! I know, random. He was like ‘You look like you do hair,’ and I said ‘I do, actually.’ One thing led to another, we swapped info, and before you knew it we were on a set at a photo shoot collaborating on different looks. I now work with an agent that allows me to work with professional models and helps me find gigs on Sundays. I love doing hair, even on Sunday – my day off. I continue to showcase my craft, even on days off, because there is simply not enough time in the day for everything I want to do. For future editorial artists, I’d recommend networking with different photographers and makeup artists that are interested in the same kind of work. Don’t forget to follow up with your networks and see your projects through. Nothing amazing ever happens without hard work and preparation.”

What are your aspirations for the future? In a previous interview, you discussed wanting to become an instructor. What do you love about teaching and what do you think you could bring to the table that others couldn’t?

“My aspirations for the future include traveling for my education, continuing to be active in the industry, and future collaborations with new artists. These qualities push me to be the best educator for my students. I believe in leading by example, and so becoming an educator was one of the best platforms for me. I am able to give back the knowledge that I have learned and there is nothing more gratifying then watching students who want to learn – then learning and then becoming amazing artists. Keep calm and educate on!”

What industry events do you never miss? Which ones would you suggest to up-in-coming stylists?

“As we all know the industry is as far as the eye can see, so being a team player and attending events is something that will guide you into your success. Like i said earlier, it’s all about time management. With that being said, I strongly believe in attending the ABS show. It’s one commitment that every stylist, colorist, and specialist should prioritize. We all get stuck at times and it’s amazing to be around like-minded people who have the same passion. With that, I challenge people to ask questions. I’ve learned that life is all about asking the right questions because without asking you’ll never know the answers that you’re looking for. In addition, if you have money saved, I encourage you to attend a hair show like NAHA. Man, oh man, the energy there is on fire! It’s probably one of my favorites. The location is typically in Las vegas but it can change from year to year.”

In a previous interview, you had said “The ‘worst hair’ label falls on Chelsea Handler. I love her, but I’d love to give her a real blowout.” What some tips and tricks to a GREAT blowout?

*He laughs out loud* “Well, talk about ‘sipping from the truth fountain’! Three tips and trick everyone should follow for an amazing blow out are tension, brush size, and the cooling of the hair – not the heating it.”

Who are your top 5 favorite Instagramers to follow?


You have a very successful Instagram account. What tips would you give our students in making their own Instagram pages more successful? How do you feel about filters? Do you have any lighting techniques that you use?

“Thank you! I have a very selective eye when it comes to my Instagram vision. I like to post different looks that I haven’t yet posted on IG. I’m also drawn to soft beautiful hair, it’s my favorite personal style to showcase. I’d say that because of my key demographic, I also try to target brides. But again, that’s just my personal strategy. Also, when it comes to lighting, I try and stay consistent throughout my pictures to create a mood for my overall IG. I love using white walls and natural light for the best pictures. Obviously, if you work with a professional photographer, use those images since they’ll always have the best impact on your following.”

And if you don’t follow David on INSTAGRAM, here’s why you should

Contact David garcia

Are you interested in working with David? Have questions, or just want to say “hi?” Go for it!

David Garcia
Mario Tricoci Salon and Day Spa (Arlington Heights)
p: 847.292.1900
IG: @davidgstylistmt
“Let’s collaborate on the next big thing”