Students claim lack of instruction at popular Orange County cosmetology school

School says they are victim of ‘Great Resignation’

The school is the Be Aveda Institute in Winter Park, which is affiliated with the parent company Aveda.

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Students attending a popular hair and skincare school are speaking out, saying they are not getting the instruction they paid for.

The school is the Be Aveda Institute in Winter Park, which is affiliated with the parent company Aveda.

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Justin Miller and Javius Cunningham say they both paid about $20,000 for the 10-month course.

Aveda is not just a line of products, it’s also an institute where students can learn cosmetology and get hands-on experience cutting, coloring and barbering.

Miller says his time at the Be Aveda Institute has been less than stellar.

When asked if he felt he got his money’s worth, Miller was quick to respond.

“Not at all,” Justin Miller told News 6.

Miller says his first couple of months were great.

“When I had those two teachers at the beginning of the program, they were helping us out,” Miller said. “He was probably the best barber I’d ever met.”

But then there was a revolving door of instructors, according to Miller.

“We went a week or two without a teacher, and then we got another teacher. He stood for about 7 weeks,” Miller said. “He also resigned and then just recently, we had another teacher,” Miller said. “He was called into the office, and we’ve never seen him again.”

Javius Cunningham and Miller are classmates.

“My experience at Aveda [Be Aveda] has been kind of rocky,” Cunningham said. “Lots of things have changed. We went through lots of instructors.”

The two say during the turnover, there were days when there was no instructor and they would learn to cut hair from YouTube videos.

“We would turn on YouTube and watch haircut tutorials just to get something out of the day,” Cunningham said.

Paul Villeneuve is vice president of education and operations for “Be Aveda Florida,” which has six locations across the state.

“When we came back from COVID, the whole company kind of got hit with the ‘Great Resignation’,” Villeneuve said. “Our struggle had been with hiring people that show up for a day or two and then take off.”

Even though they were dealing with staffing shortages, they have always had two licensed barbers in the building, although they might have been in a different area from Miller and Cunningham, according to Villeneuve.

“The state asks us to have a ratio of one educator for every 25 students. We like to run one to 12, one to 14, because we’re much more hands-on, so we’ve always been in regulation,” Villeneuve said.

He says he has already hired more instructors and will make it right.

“This is unfortunate, and it is uncomfortable for us but we will have it fixed,” he said.

Villeneuve says he has been in the business for 40 years and has never dealt with staffing issues like this.

He sent an instructor from St. Pete to help in Winter Park and they have already hired two new instructors scheduled to start this week, according to Villeneuve.

He and his staff meet twice a week and spend 30 or 40 minutes on HR staffing to make sure they are up to speed and have instructors in the pipeline, he said.

Villeneuve says he will make sure all of the students in this class have the hours they need to complete the program on time.

About the Authors:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.

Emmy-nominated journalist Kristin Cason joined the News 6 team in June 2016.