Young entrepreneur follows through on a critical business practice, in re-investing significantly into her company. It’s already begun to pay off.
What once began as a studio built for private one-on-one classes, has now manifested into a nationally-accredited esthetic and makeup artistry school on track to surpass a major sales milestone this year. Just as impressive: the school's founder, Dolly Monroe, has become a jobs-creating machine for hundreds of graduates.
The Dolly Monroe Beauty Academy got its start in 2015, originally known as Dolly Monroe Beauty Studios. In its second year, the Tampa-based Black-owned academy posted revenue in the low six figures. By 2020 it had grown to around $350,000 in revenue. For 2021, Dolly Monroe, the 27-year-old founder, projects she will surpass another milestone, with at least $1 million in revenue — up almost 567% since 2019.
With an astute entrepreneurial mindset that belies her youth, is taking that money and putting it right back where it came from: the academy. “I renovated the academy to be more inviting and exciting,” she says, starting with a flower wall and custom mural designed by local muralist Rachel Scholer.
Monroe also spent time upgrading the lighting and tools used in the academy. In light of COVID-19 and remote learning, she’s also investing in making improvements to the virtual classes offered.
Monroe’s background includes time as an artist and product specialist at Mac Cosmetics. While there, she had a hand in the sales, artistry, education, customer service and client recommendations. In 2015, she graduated from the University of South Florida and went on to obtain her esthetician license. This process is what led her to pursue establishing the academy.
The school is made up of five classrooms and a main building with a storefront and makeup room area. The academy also plans to release its own line of cosmetic makeup products later this year.
Out of the 267 students it has supported since 2018, meanwhile, 266 have earned esthetics licenses. The academy program provides job placement assistance, which has seemingly paid off with a 98% placement rate. “That was very important especially during COVID-19,” says Monroe.
"My goal is that other Black entrepreneurs see themselves in me." — Dolly Monroe, Dolly Monroe Beauty Academy
The programming offered takes seven and a half weeks to complete. Monroe and her staff of 15 take the time to come up with a strategy for students to figure out what direction they want to go in their career.
The possibilities are nearly endless with an esthetics license. Students can find work from oncology to cruise lines. That’s why Monroe stresses the importance of students not putting themselves in a box and limiting their career options — good advice for any field.
“We help find a student’s niche and spend time making sure it's compatible with their destination,” she says. “They still have to do all the work.”
Monroe recently was able to check off a goal of her own with the unveiling of the Natasha Morris Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship was named in memory of Monroe’s aunt Natasha Morris, who lost her battle with breast cancer.
The academy is offering the $12,900 scholarship to a selected applicant. It will be received in the form of waived administration fees, a school uniform, textbooks and free enrollment in the academy’s 600-hour advanced esthetics and makeup artistry program. The deadline for the essay scholarship is Dec. 14. Shortly after, top candidates will be invited in to be interviewed by executive staff members and to take a tour of the academy. The winner will be announced Dec. 23.
The courses offered through the academy are interactive for a range of topics, including esthetics, makeup, lash and microblading. Instructors provide guidance on building a student’s portfolio. All of the classes begin with demonstrations before students participate in hands-on training sessions to showcase what they’ve learned on models. The academy is located in North Tampa at 10359 Cross Creek Blvd.
The next goal of the school? Secure federal Title IV funding so students can have access to financial aid. “I’m hoping to open that doorway by the end of this year,” says Monroe.
All in all, Monroe says the most important aspect of the academy is that it's minority-led with a diverse group of students. The students are taught by and learn with people who look like them, she adds. “It’s really inspirational to see that on a daily basis.”
While many of her goals involve moving the academy forward in tangible ways, her ultimate goal is priceless.
“My goal,” she says, “is that other Black entrepreneurs see themselves in me.”