When Flavia Leal, the founder of the Flavia Leal Beauty School, entered the beauty field nearly 20 years ago, she hoped it would help to better her family’s situation.
Not only did it do that — the entrepreneur is now the owner of several locations in Massachusetts, a cosmetics company, and speaks at events around the world — but her success has also allowed her to uplift other women along the way.
The Brazilian transplant has been on a long journey of inspiring women, teaching them to rely on themselves, providing daily motivation, and improving their lives through education that, many graduates say, changes them inside and out.
Today, Flavia Leal Beauty School is the leader in the beauty education space, often compared to other top-rated, independent beauty schools like Pennsylvania’s Empire Beauty School and Illinois’ Pivot Point Academy. But Leal believes that beauty isn’t only about appearances, gorgeous hair, and great makeup — it’s about how women choose to show up in the world.
“I went through many hard times in my life, from dealing with poverty and working two full-time jobs to losing my parents and addressing family health problems. I also dealt with prejudice because I was not from a privileged background. But I always showed up and did my very best, and that’s how you can become a success. Now, I get to teach that to other women every day. I can’t think of anything better,” she said.
From the day she opened her first school in 2010, she knew she wanted to have an open-door policy and say ‘yes’ to women who had suffered as she had.
She had seen firsthand how women from underprivileged backgrounds — including non-English-speaking immigrants, dropouts, and people without funds for proper interview clothes — were passed over for opportunities. She wanted to welcome these women and teach them that they control their own destinies and are worthy and capable of success.
“Rather than see these women as unemployable or unteachable, I think the opposite. I know what I’ve been through; it makes me resilient and a better worker than many others. I see that in these women. They have survived so much, and they have so much to give,” said Leal.
She’s been a great success at helping women entrepreneurs bloom, develop their unique skills, and find their ways to triumph. Many of her students say that the motivational messages and affirmative lessons that Leal mixes in with her expertise in hair highlighting and makeup application have helped them as much as the core classes.
“Life makes sense when you are helping others. No one has the right to tell people they are not good enough. I opened my school to help all aspiring beauty technicians, regardless of where they are from,” said Leal.
Even while still students, women say they have taken what Leal has taught them and begun applying it at home and work. They report standing up for themselves, feeling in control, and being hopeful about their lives and futures for the first time in years.
Leal describes this as her well-rounded curriculum that is equally skill-focused and mindset-focused. After all, she likes to say that you can’t succeed in the world if you don’t believe in yourself. She knows that many of these women have never been taught self-confidence and it’s her personal joy to watch them develop it.
“Anyone can pick up a bottle of nail polish or a makeup brush and get good if they practice enough,” Leal explained. “And aside from the obvious fact that beauty schools teach required sanitation techniques, I take it a step further. I want the women I teach to graduate from my courses feeling prepared for whatever life throws them — because life will throw curveballs no matter what we do.”
Today, Leal is an in-demand public speaker, and multi-award-winning businesswoman, earning accolades from international business associations.
Her hundreds of graduates have become girl beauty bosses as well. This shows her every day that she’s doing the right thing with her life. She strives to imprint on each student that “No matter where you came from, what you wear, when you were born — none of that matters. It depends on you. Whoever you want to be, you can,” she shared.
Looking back on the last few decades, Leal is humble about her successes, saying that she hopes to continue being the type of mentor to women she wishes she had when she was starting out.
About Flavia Leal
Flavia Leal, Founder of the Flavia Leal Beauty School, is an award-winning instructor, serial entrepreneur and motivational speaker. For more information, please visit: https://www.flavialeal.com/