Phone:  (954) 433-4442

Location:  Kaizen Beauty Academy8405 Pines Blvd., Pembroke Pines, FL 33024


Kaizen Beauty Academy: Built around a culture

by Bella Gonzalez

Kaizen Beauty Academy: Built around a culture.

In the winter of 2008, as the country was entering a stifling depression, a small unknown beauty school in Pembroke Pines Florida struggled to survive.  The students didn’t care and rarely attended class, the staff was disinterested and showed videos every day, the owner worked on personal clients all night.  Apathy ran rampant and failure was inevitable.  Accreditation was years away and financial aid even further down the road. The students that did finish were ill prepared for the State exam and even less ready for the real world.

All of that changed when Jackie Nepola took over, the first thing she did was revise  the culture because in her opinion without a strong,  positive culture success was impossible.  From the color the salon was painted to the curriculum taught in the classroom, nothing mattered until, everyone, student, staff and educators were all on the same page. The school’s name was immediately changed to Kaizen Beauty Academy, Kaizen being the Japanese word for “continuous improvement”.  Every day we all strive to be a little better than we were the day before.  Like a seed growing out of the ground ever so slightly, imperceptibly, until one day a tree stands on that spot.

Relying on her years of experience as a  Corporate Executive,  Jackie referenced her  well worn and thoroughly highlighted, autographed copy of  Jeffry Gitomers classic book Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude: How to find, build, and keep a YES! attitude for a lifetime of SUCCESS.   Yes, was the word of the day from day one.  Staff wants to try something new, YES.  Students have an idea for class, YES.  No idea was too big or too small to not be considered.  The answer may not always be yes immediately but the attitude of listening and openness is.  There is always a way to get to the yes, with the right attitude

One company that has served as both an inspiration and motivation to Jackie and the entire Kaizen Beauty Academy team is Zappos, famous for their amazing service and culture.  Zappos founder, Tony Hsieh, is quoted as saying “we want to build the company around the culture.”  Kaizen has taken this attitude to heart and tried to emulate some of what Zappos does.  In 2013 while attending the AACS convention in Las Vegas, Jackie even went so far as visiting the Zappos offices to learn firsthand how important a quality culture is to a company.  Always one to give back and work with others Jackie invited other school owners from around the country to tour Zappos with her.  The tour energized and inspired the visitors and they all brought something back to their school from that visit.

When Ms. Nepola decided it was time to put the schools core values on paper, she didn’t go it alone.  She brought in her entire team, staff, students, educators and alumni and together they came up with what would eventually be Kaizen Beauty Academy’s Core Values.  1) Be passionate 2)Positive team/family values 3)Be kaizen 4) Have compassion 5)Dream, Create, have fun.  These core values define exactly what the school stands for and because the entire school was involved in creating them everyone takes pride in implementing them.

One of Kaizen Beauty Academy’s proudest achievements is the institution of the M.I.M. program.  Motivate, Inspire, Mentor or M.I.M. was created in 2011 as a way for advanced students to help new students.  For the students to pass on the culture of Kaizen from one class to the next.  The M.I.M. program has grown well beyond that though.  Educators are reminded frequently that their number one duty is to M.I.M.  Students and staff have visited many local schools and charity organizations to speak and visit with people and M.I.M.  Kaizen has also brought in many speakers from successful business owners to celebrity stylists to inspirational figures to address the school and M.I.M.  On Constitution Day 2014 Kaizen Beauty Academy will welcome the Mayor of Pembroke Pines to visit and M.I.M.   The academy then recognizes when someone M.I.M.s, with a certificate.

A big part of the culture of Kaizen Beauty Academy is giving back to those less fortunate.  The school has always been very active in the community and doing charitable events.  From full scale day long fundraisers and cut-a- thons to raise money for Make a Wish of South Florida or Kids In Distress to school supply drives and pet rescue fundraisers.    When Super Storm Sandy hit  Mrs. Nepola’s hometown of Long Beach,  New York, she and the entire KBA family came together to gather hundreds of pounds of supplies and have them trucked up to the devastated area.

Another aspect of the Kaizen culture that we are very proud of is our reviews.  Although we love when clients come in and say how happy they were with the service, what truly inspires and motivates us is when they say how much they loved the person.  When clients form an attachment to students and hate to see them go.  More than once a client has brought gifts and cards to soon to be grads thanking them for all they have done.  When a student graduates and thanks the school and the teacher for all that was done for them, for all the opportunities they were given, for all they learned.  It is those reviews and thank yous that matter most to us and get us all up in the morning to continue doing what we do.

One hash tag that is found throughout Kaizen’s social media is #KBAfamily because we believe Kaizen Beauty Academy is a family.  A third of the current staff at Kaizen is comprised of former students and many more have come and gone through the years.  Like any family, we are there for each other through thick and thin.  We root for each other’s success and are a shoulder to lean on when times are hard.

A new program that Kaizen Beauty Academy is in the process of implementing is a rock garden.  Every time someone sees a student, staff member or educator displaying one of the schools core values, they write their name down on a small rock.  At the end of the week all the names are read off the rocks, the person is recognized for their positive contribution and they are awarded a prize.  The rock is then placed in a garden in front of the school where it will remain as a reminder of all those who follow of the good that those before them did.

A school’s culture is extremely difficult to describe but you know it when you see it.  At Kaizen Beauty Academy the culture is visible, you can see the difference.  Not in the salon or the classroom but in the people.  The culture of Kaizen is seen in the extra effort the staff gives, the charity work the students do and the our alumni do.  The culture of Kaizen is the #KBAfamily.



About Bella Gonzalez

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