August 26, 2021

Erin’s Non-Traditional Start

Erin Steinhart knew she wanted to do hair since she was a little girl

and at age 27 she finally decided to follow her passion. Like many of us who have passions that do not require a college degree, Erin was turned away from hers because of what society deems as the “right” way to do things. In Erin’s words, “Society tells us to go to college, get a degree, get a good-paying job, and make something of yourself.” But what if making something of yourself means following your passion? Erin later considered this but at the age of 18 she followed the rules and after graduating high school she attended the University of Iowa. Erin first went into business, but her creative mind was unsatisfied sitting through entry-level Accounting and Management classes. She switched her major to Event Management which allowed for more creative freedom, but after graduation, she realized Event Management was not something she was going to pursue passionately. Erin found a job at a staffing agency as an office manager and loved the people she worked with right away, which made her career enjoyable. And although at this point in her life Erin had technically succeeded in this accepted route, she knew something was missing. After 26 years she decided to take a step in the direction she was always meant to go.


Choosing the Aveda Institute Des Moines…

was not a hard decision for Erin.  She decided to start touring schools after being strongly encouraged by her co-worker. She watched Erin come to the office day in and day out talking about her DIY projects, her newest hairstyle, and her love for everything creative and finally asked the question “Why haven’t you gone to cosmetology school yet?” This sparked the creation of her infamous pros and cons list. Spoiler alert: the pros outweighed the cons. Erin had thought about this for years but needed this final nudge to bring clarity to the situation. Erin emailed the Aveda Institute Des Moines the next day. She recalls that on her tour the “overall vibe of wellness” sold her. She looked back at all the positive interactions she had with the educators and recalled that the owner, Doug Van Polen, chatted and welcomed her to the school. “That made me feel more at home, that the owner cared about me, a random girl, coming into their school,” Erin remembered.


“I thought school was going to be way less robust…

I had no idea how in-depth it was. It isn’t just hair, there are so many layers to this.” says Erin who is now midway through her program. Most do not realize how comprehensive cosmetology school is and how much work goes into learning the skills necessary to become a successful stylist. Erin, who is now in phase 3, gave a breakdown of her overall schedule of the program which starts with Intro and moves into different phases every 2 months ending with the salon life phase. Erin loves that school eases you into hands-on learning by letting you practice on mannequins, friends, and family to “get your hands in hair with people you are comfortable with first.” Erin’s weekly schedule changes with every phase, and she was surprised to see how quickly she was presented with opportunities and options she never thought possible. Erin knew she loved hair, but after hearing a presentation by Sam Watson (Serenity Couture Manager, Aveda educator/stylist, and NAHA nominee) about creating edgy looks for editorial photoshoots, her eyes and interests were open to a whole new world. She realized her passion also lies in creating out-of-the-box, non-traditional looks for shoots, which she thanked the Aveda Institute Des Moines because she was never aware of this possibility before school. Erin was chosen to be a part of the Edwin Neill Full Potential student photoshoot competition this year and her alongside two other students: Ashlie Jackson and Madison Pebsworth took home first place! She was also chosen to participate in the North American Hair Awards where she could become 1 of 5 students nominated in the entire United States. Erin realized these opportunities were vast once she was immersed in school, and that is something most people considering cosmetology are not aware of.


Aveda Culture and Wellness…

are two things Erin feels set this institute apart from other schools. Erin explained how she has personally dealt with mental health struggles and seeing how important mental health is to Aveda is what really makes a difference. To begin every day at the institute, each class has what they call “wellness,” and this can range from taking a walk outside, get-to-know-you activities, yoga sessions, etc. It really involves any activity to get the brain clear and full of positive, stress-free feelings to start the day; which Erin feels contributes to what the overall feeling is like on the clinic floor. When it comes to friendships within school, Erin assumed her age would set her apart and she’d be alone throughout most of the program. Erin was wrong. After being in the program for under half of a year, Erin has made friends with every person in her class. Which she attributes to the overall positive culture for creating such a friendly and supportive environment among the students. When asked to describe the culture of the Aveda Institute Des Moines in one word Erin said “Eudemonic.” When new students begin the cosmetology program, they all create an Instagram page for their cosmetology journey: Erin took time to research what name would be the most fitting for her and her brand. She found the word Eudemonic which means “conducive to happiness.” This fit her vision for what she feels the purpose of cosmetology services are and describes what she hopes her career will result in. The Aveda Institute Des Moines is about the overall experience and making others feel better about themselves. Which is perfectly consistent with Erin’s own brand she’s trying to build.


Balancing life…

as a non-traditional student is anything but easy yet somehow Erin makes it seem simple. At the age of 27, working is typically non-negotiable even if you are still in school. Luckily for Erin, the office job allowed her to continue working with a flexible schedule. Before school, Erin’s in the office for an hour or so, after school, back for 3 or 4 hours, and then works from home when she can. Rinse and repeat. This would be a daunting task for many, but Erin’s passion is what’s fueling this hardworking lifestyle. She is determined to succeed in this career and if working while attending school full-time is how to make it happen then game on. No matter how untraditional, Erin is showing that this lifestyle is possible. She told us her best piece of advice, “Spend time finding out what you love to do, when it comes to what you want to do in life, just do it. All other things can be figured out later.” It took her some time to realize this, but now that she is finally following her passion, she is unstoppable.


Life After Graduation…

looks exciting for Erin. She will finish school in the early months of 2022 and plans to get experience under her belt working in a salon. She has always had a bigger picture in mind when it comes to doing hair; Erin recalls a story she wrote back in 6th grade. A story where she had this dream to one day own her own salon. For years she assumed that story would never have any truth to it, but she is now on her way to making it come to fruition. Erin is following her passion, the one she has had since she was a little girl. She pushed through the standards and is making more of herself than she ever would’ve staying within comfortable societal boundaries. Erin’s eudemonic vision for her future is finally becoming reality.

If you’re interested in the wonderful world of beauty and wellness, call the Aveda Institute Des Moines and schedule your tour today! 515-200.1096

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6905 Mills Civic PKWY #120
West Des Moines, IA 50266


Monday: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Tuesday: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Wednesday: 8:30 am – 8 pm
Thursday: 8:30 am – 8 pm
Friday: 8:30 am – 5 pm
Saturday: 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Sunday: Closed