Featured Artist in Lividity Magazine, Jessica Watkins
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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.



Free Haircuts on Veterans Day

Posted on: October 25th, 2016

Tricoci University of Beauty Culture Offers Free Haircuts for Veterans, Active Military on Veterans Day, November 11

Armed services personnel are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety and security of our nation at home and abroad. That’s why all 14 Tricoci University of Beauty Culture campuses in Illinois and Indiana will provide free haircuts for male and female veterans and active military personnel on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11.

Male veterans can choose a haircut or shave at Tricoci University’s campuses that offer a Barber Program. Barbering is offered at six campuses, including Northwest Chicago/O’Hare, Northeast Chicago/Rogers Park, Libertyville and Bridgeview in the Chicago area.

“We can never do enough to say thank you to the brave men and women who protect and defend us. This is a way we can honor their sacrifice,” says Ross Bravo, CEO of Tricoci University of Beauty Culture. “We hope our students are busy all day. We are honored to observe Veterans Day in this way.”

WHO: Male and female veterans and active military personnel.

WHAT: Free haircuts provided by Tricoci University cosmetology and barber students.

WHEN: Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, during campus hours (hours vary by campus).

WHERE: All 14 Tricoci University of Beauty Culture campuses in Illinois and Indiana.

WHY: To thank veterans and active military personnel for their sacrifices to keep our nation safe and secure.

HOW: Walk-ins are welcome. Appointments are not required, but can be made by calling 877.286.0096.

Tricoci University provides the most current, technically precise and versatile education available in the beauty industry today. All services are provided by students under the supervision of a licensed instructor.

Next Gen Barber & Beauty Battle

Posted on: October 20th, 2016

Exclusive Event for Tricoci University of Beauty Culture Students!

Sunday, November 6, 2016 I 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM CST
Tricoci University of Beauty Culture – Chicago NW
5321 North Harlem Avenue, Chicago, IL 60656

Join us for our first ever live Barber and Beauty Battle. This live student competition is brought to you by Major League Barbers (MLB), and is open to ALL Tricoci University of Beauty Culture students enrolled in Barbering, Cosmetology, or Esthetics at ANY of our campuses.

I am excited beyond words for our University to be involved with developing the Next Generation of Barber professionals. Barbering is a discipline that is close to my heart.  Having fun childhood memories of sitting on a barber chair waiting for my turn to get a haircut. Good luck to all participants.” – Ross Bravo, CEO of Tricoci University

“My teachers and students inspire me to be the best that I can be everyday.  I am surrounded by the most talented and creative people in the industry, and I am so excited to bring all that talent under one roof. It’s time for our students to show up and take it all the way. Be strong, be confident, but most of all, be YOURSELF! Good luck to all the competitors!” – Amy Collazo, Campus Director of the Chicago Northwest & Northeast Campuses

“I’m super excited not only for Tricoci University and our students but for the barbering industry as a whole. This competition is going to mix barbering tradition with cosmetology professionalism, and the result is going to be the most progressive battle Chicago has ever seen. I can’t wait.” – Deana Boozer, Barber Teacher at the Chicago NW Campus

Clock hours will be awarded for all student attendees whether you come to watch or participate (drive time is not included). MLB will present awards and prizes for the winners of each category. Due to limited space, tickets are required for entry.

To register, visit: https://nextgenbarberbattle.eventbrite.com.

A Message from Ross Bravo, CEO

Posted on: October 18th, 2016

Statement from Ross Bravo, CEO of Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, Regarding TUBC’s Commitment to Students, Staff and High Standards of Conduct

We, at Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, are proud of our long track record of success, strength and stability. Our associates provide exceptional instruction and program delivery at all 14 Tricoci University campuses in Illinois and Indiana, along with great customer service to our students. In light of the recent closures of other beauty educational institutions across the country, we want to ensure the public that will continue to maintain the fidelity and integrity of our internal processes for our institution.

Mario Tricoci was committed to offering a fresh and innovative cosmetology and beauty school curriculum when he founded Tricoci University in 2004. He was passionate about developing students who would become leaders in the beauty industry. Year after year, that vision is realized and Tricoci University graduates have gone on to become salon owners, beauty consultants, educators and more. Our impact on the industry is felt in our local communities, across the nation and beyond.

We are committed to continuing our tradition of providing quality education programming for our students, to the retention and recruitment of high-performing associates, and to integrity in the management of our campuses. We look forward to many more years of graduating new leaders in the beauty industry.

Mentor of the Month: Dan Johnson

Posted on: September 1st, 2016

Senior Hair Color Specialist at Mario Tricoci Hair Salon and Wella Platform Artist

Dan has been doing hair color for over 30 years and is a world-renowned Hair Color Specialist. He started his career in beauty at Rocco Altobelli Salon in Minneapolis, MN however since then, Dan has been very involved with Wella Professionals, worked as a platform artist, and received several prestigious awards for his work with color.

“I thought going into this industry I’d do a couple heads of hair and go home, but you can make or break a person’s ego. It’s a difficult job. Some people won’t go to work the next day because of what you’ve done to their hair. You have to remember that what you do is important.”

Dan Johnson creates “orbit lights” hair color using Pravana’s magenta, pastel pink, and pastel coral at Tricoci University’s Chicago NW campus.

Dan was recruited to Illinois by Mario Tricoci to be the Director of Hair Color for his salons. During that role, he helped develop the talents of more than 200 color technicians. Currently, Dan is a Senior Hair Color Specialist at Mario Tricoci’s Hair Salon and Day Spa in Oak Brook, IL. Dan believes there is always more to learn so he recently studied abroad in London and Paris to stay at the forefront of color trends and techniques.

Interested in a free consultation by Dan Johnson or to see when he’ll be at a campus near you? Follow him on Facebook at Dan Johnson TUBC.

Fully Remodeled Elgin Campus

Posted on: August 15th, 2016

Tricoci University of Beauty Culture Cuts Ribbon at Fully Remodeled Campus, Elgin

August 12, 2016, Elgin, Ill. – The grand re-opening of Tricoci University of Beauty Culture’s Elgin Campus meets an important need in the beauty industry, according to the school’s founder.

“We know that if a student comes to us, we can help develop them into true professionals,” said Mario Tricoci, founder of Tricoci University and internationally acclaimed beauty industry icon, to the audience gathered for the grand re-opening and ribbon cutting. “The industry doesn’t need just another hairdresser, facialist, manicurist or colorist. What the industry needs is more professionals.”

He added: “we are very excited to be part of the Elgin community and have felt very welcomed over the past year and a half.”

Tricoci was very involved in the design phase of what became a total transformation at Elgin. An esthetics wing was added to the campus, and the interior renovations have significantly improved the flow from the classrooms to the salon floor.

“This is a state of the art facility,” said Ross Bravo, CEO for Tricoci University of Beauty Culture. “We have created an environment where our students will graduate and enter the workforce salon-ready.”

More than 60 people, including salon owners from around the area, attended the grand re-opening and ribbon cutting of the Elgin campus on Monday, August 8.

Transformation of the Elgin Campus is part of a refresh to all 14 Tricoci University campuses in Illinois and Indiana, which began in late 2014 and will continue through 2017. The three campuses that were acquired earlier this year — in Bloomington, Ind., Danville, Ill. and Urbana, Ill. — will see transformations similar to that at Elgin in the future.

Forty-one students have graduated from the Elgin campus since Tricoci University began offering classes in January 2015, and 51 active students were enrolled as of the end of June. Enrollment is expected to grow to approximately 70 to 75 students when fall classes begin. The campus employs 10 associates, including four cosmetology teachers and two esthetics teachers.

Creative Demo to End Domestic Violence

Posted on: July 21st, 2016

Tricoci University Creative Event Seeks to End Domestic Violence with the Deep Blue Summer Demo

Students Will Create Blue Hair, Nails and Makeup Designs Thursday, July 21

Blue: a color that denotes water, sky and peacefulness.

At Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, blue will raise awareness of domestic violence on Thursday, July 21. During the “Deep Blue Summer” Creative Demo, students will use blue in their creative hair, nail and makeup designs in support of The NO MORE Project to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

The public is invited to be part of the demo, which begins at 6 pm on Thursday, July 21, at all 14 Tricoci University locations in Illinois and Indiana.

Our students love doing something that hones their skills while benefitting the community at the same time. We all probably know someone who has been the victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, whether we know it or not. Supporting the NO MORE campaign is a great way for all of us to give back and help raise awareness of this silent epidemic,” says Ross Bravo, CEO of Tricoci University. “We hope many people will come join us and get their ‘blue’ on.”

NO MORE was conceived to amplify and support the anti-domestic violence and sexual assault movement by becoming a unifying symbol to drive awareness and break down the barriers of stigma, silence and shame that keep people from talking about these issues and taking action to prevent them. Co-founded as a public/private partnership, NO MORE was created as a platform for those working to end domestic violence/sexual assault, in the belief that greater dialogue will fuel enhanced funding for direct service, advocacy and prevention.

Mentor of the Month: Chris Baran

Posted on: July 1st, 2016

Redken Education Artistic Director and a NAHA Master Stylist Winner

Chris has created Redken’s vision for trend shoots, styling and finishing techniques. He helps develops the core curriculum taught across the country and around the world in Principle Based Design and Finishing, Redken education and fashion’s hottest trends. And he is a key facilitator for Redken’s train-the-trainer programs, both internationally and domestically. So he’s pretty good at what he does.

Alongside his work as Education Artistic Director, Exchange Facilitator, and training coach, Chris makes time for major trade shows, hands-on workshops with schools like Tricoci University, and as a stylist for New York Fashion Week. He is also the owner and president of Fuel Productions, a company dedicated to creating easy to understand technical training systems and problem-solving for salon stylists.

Fuel Education System

Chris Baran has been cutting hair for 45 years, training hundreds of thousands of hairdressers in 26 countries to understand the Principles of Design and the Principles of Finishing, developed in cooperation with Redken 5th Ave. Everyone has heard the expression, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This is the truth at the heart of the Fuel for Education System. If you understand hair, you’ll never need to learn another haircut. You will know, just by looking at it, how to recreate any design out there.  You will have the understanding that unlocks your creativity, paving the way for you to go from good to Great. Chris’ promise: Any cut, any style, any time. And it’s all yours for less than the cost of a good pair of shears.

Chris breaks his massive experience down into easy to absorb bites with clear lessons in a See-Do format. First you watch, and then you do it yourself. Then Chris explores the most common mistakes with you. The DVDs, in conjunction with the Manual, Workbook, and Lesson Plan, create a fast, efficient highway for learning.

Awards and Achievements

Chris Baran’s accolades include Canadian Hairdresser of the Year, an ABBIE for Best Educational Program, and the prestigious Master Stylist title at the NAHA Awards. Chris was recognized at the Mirror Awards as International Stylist of the Year, and received its Lifetime Achievement Award. Twice named Avant Garde Hairdresser of the Year and Educator of the Year in Canada and in the US, Chris is in worldwide demand. A lot.

Whether in the US or in the 30 plus countries seeking his expertise, his relaxed teaching style, sense of humour and easy how-to approach make his sessions fly by, and they pay off with increased technical and creative skills that grow client demand. Kaboom.

Mentor of the Month: Sam Villa

Posted on: June 1st, 2016

Redken’s Education Artistic Director and Founder and Chairman of Allvus LLC

Growing up in his Dad’s barbershop, Sam never considered the hair industry as a career choice until he saw his first hair show — and changed his mind. Sam went on to open Avant Hair Studio, an award-winning salon in the San Francisco Bay area, which he called home for 20 years.

Sam has more than 30 years teaching experience and is currently at the top of his game as Redken’s Education Artistic Director and Chairman of his own digital education and styling tools company. As part of the Redken family for the past 16 years, Sam is in constant demand at international and domestic trade shows where his progressive teaching approach enables stylists to absorb new techniques quickly and for practical use in the salon. In addition, Sam is a lead Facilitator at the Redken Exchange in New York City where he teaches design and trend sessions to salon professionals from around the world.

Sam is known for doing things differently to challenge, inspire and motivate change. His encouragement to stylists is unrivaled, as he genuinely wants each one of them to reach deep to identify how they can make a change to promote their own growth. His talents stretch far beyond his brilliant cutting and finishing skills; he has a plethora of business skills that enliven stylists to think about how they speak to their guests to add value behind the chair. 

“Sharing is the greatest gift we can give one another…to help each other grow and prosper, we all need to pay it forward,” says Sam.

Consistent research, along with a respect for the fundamentals, Sam is always on the move for new and unconventional ways of cutting and finishing hair – like using a flat iron for versatility, texturizing iron to create hidden volume and using disconnection to create styles that look blended and can be worn in multiple ways. He is a true messenger sharing his knowledge with stylists in hopes that they too will share with others to enrich the industry…upgrade the industry by respecting and supporting one another – #ArtistsSupportingArtists.

Sam is in his glory and most comfortable when teaching – a natural transition from his early coaching days in sports. Practice, practice, practice, until you master the craft and then share with others, so they too can become successful! Whether facilitating an in-salon class or on a stage at a major event, there is always something to be discovered and learned.

“Stylists need a good understanding of the fundamentals of basic techniques, once mastered, they can be manipulated to create modern silhouettes and textures,” explains Sam.“It’s time to SHOUT IT OUT! The way for us to BE better is to COME TOGETHER as an industry, and the SHOUT begins here with Sam Villa and Redken!” adds Sam.

Professional Accolades

Behindthechair.com Favorite Overall Educator of the Year in 2015
Favorite New Company Under 7 Years Old 2014
Favorite Platform Artist and Educator 2007, 2011 and 2012
Favorite top-five finalist from 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014
Redken Platform Artist of the Year 1998
2014 American Salon Professional’s Choice Awards/Platform Artist
“Master of the Craft” Award from the Art & Fashion Group 1992
Finalist in the North American Hairdressing Awards — Classic Category 1991

Free Services for Cancer Survivors

Posted on: May 26th, 2016

Tricoci University of Beauty Culture Students Offer Complimentary Services on Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day

Students at all 14 Tricoci University of Beauty Culture campuses in Illinois and Indiana will support the 14th Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day (CSBSD), a national effort to pamper cancer survivors and patients with complimentary hair, makeup or spa services.

This year’s Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day is Tuesday, June 7. Cancer survivors and patients can call 888.286.0096 to make a complimentary appointment.

CSBSD is a day when those in the beauty and related industries in all 50 states volunteer to offer complimentary services to all men, women and children cancer survivors, regardless of cancer type or date of diagnosis. The event was started by Barbara Paget of Highland Park in 2003 after learning about a salon in California that offered complimentary salon services to cancer survivors and patients.

“We are proud to invite all cancer survivors to participate in our Cancer Survivor Beauty and Support Day activities,” said Ross Bravo, CEO of Tricoci University. “This is a great way for us to give something back to the cancer survivors in our communities who experienced so much fighting their respective illnesses. CSBSD gives our students the opportunity to provide a little personal kindness and pampering.”

Each Tricoci University of Beauty Culture campus will offer different services to cancer patients. To learn about the services offered at the Tricoci University campus nearest you, and to make a complimentary appointment, call 877.286.0096.