A $10.5-million investment in the expansion of The Face Place Institute of Aesthetics, on the back of accreditation from the Switzerland-based Comité International d'Esthétique et de Cosmétologie (CIDESCO), has increased the school's capacity to produce more internationally certified professionals.
Following the expansion, the Carvalho Drive, St Andrew-based training facility now boasts a training room and two labs that can comfortably accommodate up to 12 students each. A total of 10 square feet was added to each lab as a result.
"It was a complete overhaul. We were actually closed in and we had to close the professional services we offered in the spa in the first week of January," proprietor of The Face Place Marie Hall Smith informed Jamaica Observer.
"Thankfully I had an amazing contractor who was able to turn the space around in 10 days. So we really worked night and day," she continued.
Founded in 1989 by Hall Smith's mother, Elima Hall, The Face Place Institute now offers six programmes that are certified by the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET). The school also earned CIDESCO accreditation last year, becoming the first and only in Jamaica.
The Swiss accreditation body has been in existence for 75 years, providing certifications in cosmetology and aesthetics. The Face Place offers four CIDESCO programmes: facial, manual facial, body massage and spa therapy, and spa management.
Achieving international certification was no easy task for the training facility; however, having the nationally recognised NCTVET certification helped to grandfather The Face Place Institute into CIDESCO accreditation.
Given the international accreditation, Hall Smith said the expansion of the facility also took into account hygiene, sanitation and safety protocols as well as global standards for a global training school.
"One of the most important things to me was retrofitting the space to ensure that ergonomically the students would be comfortable because, in the labs, if you don't practise good ergonomics you have complaints later on in life," Hall Smith explained.
"We benchmarked international best practices in terms of outfitting the lab for the services and training we offer," she added.
While the proprietor invested $7 million in the expansion and facelift of the facility, she spent an additional $3.5 million on new machines and equipment.
"It was really investing in the equipment and machines where we had to take a leap of faith in a year like 2021, not knowing or certain of what would happen but remaining faithful to our purpose, in terms of training and standards that are needed in our industry," Hall Smith told Sunday Finance.
During the pandemic, the school and spa implemented enhanced hygienic and sanitation standards to ensure business continuity. At the same time, it adopted a hybrid method of teaching, wherein theory was imparted virtually during the week and students attended practical lessons in person on weekends. Courses at The Face Place Institute can last up to four months, covering a minimum of 300 hours.
For the duration of each course, students get a kit consisting of The Face Place supplies and an international supply kit as, as Hall Smith pointed out, they learn "the fundamentals of aesthetics incorporated with luxury".
With the expansion of the school and purchase of new equipment, Hall Smith has also invested in human resources, particularly training personnel.
"How we facilitate training of the best kind is that all our trainers are employed part-time because they are already working full-time in the industry because all of the knowledge has to be current. So to maintain relevancy, all our trainers are trained trainers and professionals, and so we had to prepare new contracts with trainers in the industry to work part-time," The Face Place Institute principal explained.
Having the CIDESCO accreditation has gone a far way in boosting the prospects of The Face Place Institute's students. Smith Hall recounted that one successful candidate, who was a single mother with two boys, has been able to migrate with her family and find work in Canada.
When asked how the school has remained competitive given its location and similar institutions in the region — HEART/NSTA Trust, Pulse, La Marie Spa — Smith Hall credited the success to the support of "great trainers" and the competencies passed on from her mother.
"When you start to train from 1989 and in 2022 the doors are still open, then you're doing something right. So competition is great; we work in synergy with each other. But truth be told, it's when you focus and keep your eye on the prize and work with purpose — my mother always worked with purpose," Hall Smith shared.
And what does the future hold for The Face Place Institute of Aesthetics?
"We continue to grow with the tools that we have and the resources that are made available to us and the support we have from our international accreditation body. CIDESCO has helped in handholding with the curriculum, learner guides, and best practices. We have a wealth of knowledge to lean on," Hall Smith concluded.