Geneva Wyatt is a charter member of EstheticsAmerica of NCA and a 25-year member of Hair America of NCA. Geneva's Beauty College has been a leading training institute for hair, skin, and nails for twenty years. As a cosmetologist, aesthetician, businesswoman, and educator, Geneva has enjoyed 51 years in the beauty industry and her career encompasses the full range of the cosmetology and aesthetics professions.
Her career began as a teenager selling Avon cosmetics and styling her friends' and teachers' hair while in high school. At the Shreveport Beauty School, Geneva was offered the chance to take a special facial course as w ell as the regular cosmetology course since she had sales experience with Avon.
An educator for Contoure' Cosmetics came from New York City to teach Geneva how to use the imported French line. After graduation in 1937, she continued to market the Contoure' line for several years. In 1983 she opened her first beauty salon at the Kickapoo Motel and Restaurant on the corner of Benton Road and U.S. Highway 80. Little did she know that she would own businesses within a block of that original location for the next half century!
In 1940 she bought land in the cotton field across the street from her salon in order to build a house with a four operator salon in front. It became the home for her and her new husband Hershel in 1941.
Her beauty shop outgrew her house, and Geneva moved her business to the new shopping center built next door to her home in 1953. This salon offered facials in a completely separate skin care room designed to accommodate two facial clients at once. Geneva used Glendora Stringer Cosmetics from California. It was the first hot facial mask on the market. There was a brown crème with much healing power that was used under the wax as an acne treatment. There was also a crème to hydrate the skin under the wax as a treatment for dry mature skin. Clients of all ages were offered this "revolutionary" esthetic treatment in her full service salon.
Geneva's Madison Park Beauty Salon and Geneva's Centenary Beauty Salon began serving Shreveport clients in 1954. The Centenary location had a facial room equipped with facial machinery that stimulated the facial muscles. Along with this "modern" approach to skin care, a face life treatment was given. Geneva Wyatt had already taken a leadership position for offering skin care treatments to her salon's clientele. Geneva's Broadmoor Beauty Salon opened din 1955. She opened two salons on Barksdale Air Force Base in 1959. At the height of her career as a salon owner, she employed 72 stylist in all 6 locations combined.
Geneva achieved membership in the Louisiana Hair Fashion Committee in 1959, and her professional career began to revolve around NCA activities. She served as Chairman for two years and as Styles Director for two different two - year terms for LHFC. In 1962, she took the examination for the Official Hair Fashion Committee (now Hair America) and passed the first time to become Louisiana's second OHFC member.
As Assistant Styles Director, she developed the makeup trend releases. She did all of the photography makeup for the trend publications and press releases during the season of Mamie Scott. Geneva remembers how much she learned about makeup from these two legends in the cosmetology industry.
Geneva has only missed one OHFC meeting in the 25 years she has been a member!
Hairstyling competition was her love for many years. After winning many first place trophies for styling, hair cutting, and make up, her initiation into OHFC placed her on "the other side of the fence" as a judge and as a trainer. She judges countless NCA competitions, including three times for the gold Cup in New York City and the National at the NCA national conventions. Geneva was the national chairman for the selection of the 1976 Olympic Team. Her competition classes were very popular at many beauty shows, and she was the guest artist for the New York International Show five years in a row. A trainer for contest winners all across the country, Geneva also trained her son Johnny. She said "It was the hardest training I had ever undertaken, but he won a house full of trophies."
According to Geneva, the year 1964 was a highlight in her life. She went to adult education classes at night and graduated from high school in cap and gown the same month as her son Johnny graduated from Bossier High School.
This sparked her love of learning, and she returned to beauty school to earn her instructors'' license. After teaching on Vera Rogers' faculty, she bought her Shreveport Beauty School in 1966. She sold her last beauty salon the next year and purchased the Curtis Park Methodist Church buildings in Bossier City for a school location.
Hershel Wyatt has remodeled, decorated, and even built the fixtures for all of Geneva's salons. His woodworking skills made him a much sought after designer of beauty salons throughout the South. From Hershel Wyatt's Cabinet Shop came the show place of Geneva's career - Geneva's Beauty College. This year of 1988 will be the school's 21st enrollment of over 100 students; it is a family operation like all Geneva's professional endeavors have been. Her son Jonny and her daughter Patricia hold management positions and serve as instructors at Geneva's Beauty College. Geneva claims "I cannot give myself all the credit for my success. My family has played a big part in my life and my work." Hershel has been her best friend and favorite business partner. His salon equipment building and traveling with her to shows occurred while working as full-time carpenter foreman in construction and owning his own business, Wyatt's Cabinet Shop. He now manages the Jhirmach of North Louisiana distributorship and serves on the board of directors for Geneva's Beauty College. "Behind every successful woman is a successful man," Geneva's favorite adage.
Education has been a driving force in Mrs. Wyatt's work. She has taught 37 continuing education programs at colleges and universities in ten states. One of her first continuing education jobs was in Hattiesburg in the sixties where she taught new fashion in hairstyles and make up for three consecutive summers with Buddy Walton, then Styles Director of OHFC (HairAmerica). She returned in the summer of 1987 to teach Skin Care for the University of Southern Mississippi. She has worked with Louisiana's Continuing Education seminars since classes were held at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge with Rufus Hays in 1961 and the late Vera Slater in 1962. She has served as guest artist and teacher for seminars in Louisiana and throughout the country. Geneva served as Louisiana's chairman of Continuing Education for seven years, starting in 1979 at Bossier Parish Community College. Ron Renee', founder of Aesthetics International Association, appeared twice during that time to benefit LAAC, the state association.
In 1981, Geneva began to lobby the Louisiana Legislature for a separate 750 hour esthetics course. The next year Representative Robert Adley authored her bill for the 750 clock hours of training. After two years of unselfish dedication, her bill for aesthetics licensing passed.
Geneva's attributes an important turning point in her career to Ron Renee'.
Although her work in skin care began while a student in beauty school, Ron's influence shaped her attitude toward modern aesthetics as a separate profession. Ron came to Geneva's Beauty College on several weekend trips to train Geneva and her teachers about European cosmetics and the latest techniques in skin care. Thanks to Ron's encouragement, Geneva has pursed her first love- skin care- along a successful and rewarding career path. "Ron has given me the strength I need to continue working for what I believe in and what I enjoy. It is good to have a friend like Ron who is never too busy when you call on him for advice," says Geneva. "I think Ron Renee' has worked harder than any other professional to keep skin care alive in the United States. Our entire industry has benefited from his tireless efforts for our aesthetic associations to be successful."
Ron helped her establish her first line of imported products. Today, she teaches three complete lines from France, Austria, and Spain in her aesthetics school, and carries several other brands as well. Geneva says a "hard-sell" approach is not required if the cosmetic line meets her quality standards and produces results during the aesthetic procedures. Aesthetics is very relaxing work because of the personal interaction with each client, and Geneva claims there is no comparison between the art of esthetics and the stressful pressures associated with other aspects of cosmetology.
Retirement is out f the question for Geneva. She does hope to spend more time with her grandchildren. Jeff (age 21) and Gena Helen (age 17) are Jonny's children and Patricia's daughter Alice Helen is 15 months old.
Geneva and Hershel are planning to enjoy more traveling, but they are both actively involved and planning for more career projects in the near future.
Geneva's most recent projects revolve around her love of aesthetics. Geneva considers a seminar she held in May of 1987 to be one of the highest compliments she ever received. The entire Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology came for aesthetics training in order to improve their evaluation and grading procedures for Esthetician licensing applicant in Mississippi.
She has taught many special classes in skin care, and now has the largest aesthetician department in the state of her school, Geneva's Beauty College.
Geneva's Beauty College offers four different courses, each of which lead to state licensing. The Aesthetician Course (750 hours), the Manicuring Course (600 hours), and Teacher's Training (750 hours) each have their own curriculum and instructors. Geneva sincerely believes the future of the beauty industry lies with the full service salon, and this philosophy is reflected in her unique curriculum for the Full Cosmetology Course. Along with their hair styling classes, each student receives one month of training in aesthetics and one month of training in nail sciences. Geneva's has many graduates who are full time aestheticians and many who have earned licenses in more than one field.
Although Geneva's career has been an exciting one, she says, "I haven't had a bed of roses. I've had many interferences and obstacles, but they did not hurt me. They just made me stronger and made me want to work harder."