Located in Sarasota, Florida, Fashion Focus Hair Academy recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. Founded in 1988 by siblings Richard and Byron Weintraub, the brothers built one of the leading hair academies in the United States.
When they started their venture, there were very few teaching programs that were designed specifically for beauty schools. The first offering with international recognition was Leo Passage and his Pivot Point method of teaching. With curriculum customized for Fashion Focus and their local market, this training method was designed to elevate a hairdresser's skills to the highest level of artistic creativity. It was also organized to teach future salon professionals to see, think, create, and adapt to any client or situation. Since opening, the academy has produced thousands of highly skilled hair professionals and currently boasts an impressive State Board pass rate that is in the top five percent in the state of Florida.
Now co-owned by Richard and Byron's son, Aaron, the academy marked their successful three-decade milestone by making over the facility. The plan was a long time in the making. It took two years from when the initial decision was made before the Weintraub duo pulled the trigger on the complete slab-to-sky redesign. To complete the mission they enlisted Seibert Architects for the plans and partnered with Leon Alexander of Eurisko Design to help with the overall design and source the furniture, fixtures, etc. The team had big ideas for the facility and no small task ahead of them but were committed to seeing the plan through.
The New Look
Once unveiled, the new spacious facility boasts a modern edge with clean lines, splashes of warmth, and well-lit points of interest throughout. Two podium check-in centers and a set of three six-foot-high model images within the retail space greet all who enter the academy. The sleek lines of the shelving and their contents are accented with modern LED lighting.
Inside of the workspaces, angular workstations and squared mirrors are offset with rounded chairs and vertical bars for task lighting. The barber section is accented with dark wood cabinets and LED-framed mirrors for a more masculine appeal. Throughout the facility, environmentally friendly features, Eco-designed furniture, and LEED lighting add to the academy’s green commitment to replanting a tree for each one cut for the buildout.
In addition to the ground-up revamp, the academy also grew by 700-square feet, adding two new rooms to accommodate the school’s growth. By expanding the 4,800-square-foot building to 5,500-square-feet, the new space houses a break room, bathroom for employees, and storage while on the other side, a locker room and laundry facility were added.
When asked about the construction process, the senior Weintraub said, "Nothing's perfect in a perfect world. It would have been wonderful if we were building something new that we were not living in, but that was not the case. We had to move out and then move back in, and of course, nothing ran on time. Every time we undid something, we'd find something unexpected – but that’s just the nature of construction. To top it off, Sarasota’s construction boom made it hard to get services and quality people, not to mention the supplies. And then there were the two hurricanes that caused two-week delays each. We ended up going from the slab and adding all new electrical, all new plumbing, all new everything. However, in the end, the effort was all worth it, and we ended up with an amazing facility. We’re extremely very proud of how everything turned out.”
The facility makeover has earned the Fashion Focus team a North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) nomination for best salon/academy design for 2018. The facility also earned a spot on Salon Today magazine’s 2018 Salons of Distinctions list. Both top honors for which the Weintraubs and the entire crew at Fashion Focus are very proud.
Photography by Madelyn Alexander
Photos Courtesy of Professional Beauty Association