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Grace Doran Francis- A Legend in Aesthetics

Grace Doran Francis- A Legend in Aesthetics

Jan/Feb 1988

Grace Doran Francis changes the face of beauty care and education with her progressive skin care and make-up techniques. Her trophies and awards attest to her immeasurable talent and sincere dedication within the esthetics field.

She is a multi-talented hair and skin care specialist who was by far one of the great pioneers in hair and skin care education. She has worked alongside the best in the industry, and throughout her long and prosperous career, Grace has shared her knowledge and keen insight with fellow students.

Grace began her career in Hollywood more than 40 years ago. At that time, she was primarily creating hair designs for many of the starlets and models in Hollywood. During this time, she was also busy developing curriculums and concepts to establish a formal system of hair design education. She eventually opened her own school in Hollywood - Comer - Doran.

However, with all her success in hair design, Grace wanted to learn more about make-up and skin care techniques. Hollywood make-up master Perc Westmore encouraged her to experiment with different make-up application techniques. He shared his time with her, as well as his personal tools, and brought her into his studio to show her how he applied make-up to the film and television stars.

With Westmore's assistance, Grace quickly mastered make-up techniques and applications that were high in demand. Soon she was not only doing hair for the stars but make-up as well.

She began traveling across the country to demonstrate her skills before large audiences. On stage, Grace particularly likes to create what is known as character make-up applications. She would transform a beautiful, high-fashion model into an 80-year old matron, and then quickly turn the models back to the audience to remove the make-up and old housecoat. Within seconds, the model would face the audience again, but this time she would be clad in a flowing gown and showing off the make-up trend for that season.

Word spread fast about Grace's talent with a make-up brush and soon she was asked to come to Las Vegas to design the make-up and hair for singers and dancers who were performing in the casinos. Once in a while, she would create "before" and "after" make-up transformations on stage with the girls.

Back home in California, Grace was asked to lead the first class in esthetics for the Nation Cosmetologist Association (NCA). Being a committee member for the NCA, Grace accepted and led a very challenging and creative class. Each participant received his own make-up kit and was encouraged to be creative with individual make-up applications.

To everyone's surprise, the number of participants reached a record-breaking 250 for the first class. This proved that people were interested in learning more about skin care and make-up applications and inspired Grace to write a book entitled, "Comer and Doran's Mystery of Make-up". it was published in California and distributed throughout the United States.

Grace's educational endeavors soon reached far outside the United States. Iko Yamano, who is highly respected in the skin care industry in Japan, invited Grace to Tokyo to teach specialized skin care and make-up workshops to Japanese skin care specialist. While she was there, Grace was also asked by top Japanese skin care specialist to share her skills in large industry shows.

Over the years, Grace and Mrs. Yamano have exchanges numerous skin care philosophies and regimens. For instance, when Mrs. Yamano visited Grace in the states, she demonstrated how the western culture could greatly benefit from the effects of acupressure, face and body massage and the Moma mudd pack, an earthy mixture of ingredients applied to the skin to keep it beautiful and younger looking.

Grace realized the benefits of these techniques, and eventually, Grace and Mrs. Yamano would work hand-in-hand in developing a student curriculum that included these topics.

In 1967, when grace was finishing her two-year stint as styles director for the NCA, she met Pivot Point president Leo Passage. Passage was so impressed with her educational credentials and solid school curriculums that he asked her and her husband, Buddy Francis, to join him in Chicago. Grace and Buddy accepted his offer, sold their two schools in Palm Springs, California and packed their bags for a new life in the Midwest.

At Pivot Point, Grace has worn many hats, but the one she is most proud of is Director of Esthetics. A long-time friend of Christine Valmy, Grace asked for her assistance in developing a top-notch esthetics program exclusively for Pivot Point. Together they traveled throughout the states to educate school owners and salon staffs on the importance and benefits of proper skin care techniques.

"It was difficult to get off the ground at first, because in the Unites States, no one gave much thought to skin care. Now of course, it is different story," says Grace.

During one of her many educational jaunts, Grace attended the thirty second CIIDESCO conference in Brighton, England, with her highly respected associate and friend, Louella Bailey. After the conference, the two traveled to London to visit the renowned Kenneth Morris School of Esthetics. They were pleased with what they saw. After seeing his school, their journey took them to nearly all the esthetic schools in London and surrounding suburbs.

"It was truly an educational time for both of us," reflects Grace. "We saw so much on that trip. When we returned home we had plenty of new ideas and worthwhile information o share with our colleagues."

Several years ago, Grace returned to the orient and visited Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong as guest make-up artist and esthetician trainer for a number of Asian cosmetology shows. She also presented the latest in skin care for many of the beauty schools in the area. Her daughter, Candice Francis, accompanied her on this trip and demonstrated the latest in machine-operated skin care and massage techniques. At that time, this was still fairly new to the industry and eastern estheticians were more than intrigued with this unique invention.

Over the years, Grace has trained a number of make-up artist and skin care specialist, many of whom are still active in Hollywood studios. Once such a student was Maurice Stein, who owns Cinema Secrets, a beauty supply and educational company that caters to the needs of Hollywood. Stein currently does the make-up for several of the cast member on the TV show "The Golden Girls."

Grace's eldest daughter, Joanne Phillips, followed in her mother's footsteps and has been a hair designer and make-up artist in the Hollywood studios for some time. Joanne has countless credits for her unique hair and make-up designs.

At Pivot Point, she has also trained some of the finest specialist in the felid, including successful salon owner and Chicago Cosmetologist Association's (CCA) chairperson of the skin care division Linda Burmeister and Chicago-based make-up artist Sher Kohr. Many Pivot Point graduates end up working as skin care specialists in the finer Michigan Avenue salons, such as Elizabeth Arden, Neiman-Marcus, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Marshall Field's.

As a matter of fact, officials for the city of Chicago, named Pivot Point the finest skin care training facility in the Midwest. This is largely due to Grace's strong commitment to education others in esthetics.

Recently creating and completing a 750-hour esthetics curriculum, a 320-hour nail curriculum and a 300-hour make-up curriculum for Pivot Point, Grace hopes these new programs will serve the needs of a fast-growing market.

Says Grace, "I couldn't have achieved the high goals I set for myself without all the support people have given me in esthetics over the years. Ron Renee and Robert Diemer have been a strong support for me and to the industry as a whole. They are to be admired for their many contributions to the esthetics field."

The industry does admire those who have accomplished goals and contributed to the field and that is why Grace Doran Francis was inducted into the NCA exclusive Hall of Renown and recently was inducted into Pivot Point International's Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame. She has also served as a judge for countless competition, and the International Beauty Show's Make-up/Total Look category.

Today Grace and Buddy are on the road again. This time they are en route to all the major hair and beauty trade shows, stopping off to visit as many Pivot Point member schools as possible.

After 20 years with Pivot Point, the couple is looking forward to "RV-ing" across the country. Their home on wheels is fully equipped with deluxe kitchen, full bath and enough room for their two small dogs to roam.

In November, they will attend the 1987 NAACS convention in Philadelphia, then head south and finally back-track to the west coast.

Back in Chicago, at Pivot Point International's world headquarters, Grace left the esthetics curriculums that she worked hard to create in the capable hands of Sylvia Robinson, who has worked alongside Grace for many years.

Grace feels that Pivot Point's esthetics program will successfully flourish because of the company's fine educational staff and also because Leo Passage realizes the need for quality esthetics education.

And if there's anything this industry leader knows, it quality esthetics education. Her professional history proves it.