As a child, Lucia DeBartolo watched her cousin go through beauty school. But when she chose the same path, DeBartolo discovered her parents were less than thrilled with her career choice.
"I was so intrigued watching my cousin work on manikins and models. In the later years I would often visit her in her very busy Park Ridge salon, and she was also my hairdresser," she said. "At that point, I knew I wanted to be in the beauty industry. Against my parents' wishes, I was enrolled during my senior year in high school through a vocational work program."
Cosmetology has turned into a rewarding career for DeBartolo. She opened a full-service salon called Lucia DeBartolo Salon in downtown DesPlaines, which she owned for nearly 13 years before selling it. She also has loved teaching, something she began doing as soon as she graduated from beauty school.
"My first teaching job was actually at the beauty school I graduated from, Ippolito School of Cosmetology, which is no longer in existence," she said. "I always found myself teaching something to one of my peers or coworkers. In school, I was often approached by instructors and administrators, giving me recommendations to go into teaching, that I had a talent for teaching, and it felt very natural to me -- after I got over my jitters of public speaking."
DeBartolo then taught for Pivot Point International, where she worked as an Artistic Team Member, Platform Artist, and taught advanced education to licensed hairdressers.
"This was one of the best experiences I had as an instructor, especially when I got to travel to different parts of the U.S. teaching and working with other hairdressers who wanted to advance their education," she said. "I also taught at Tricoci University of Beauty Culture and now at College of DuPage. I just love COD's program, where wonderful opportunities are available for cosmetology students to earn an associate's degree while attending cosmetology classes. How awesome is that? I wish I could have done this when I was back in school.
"The field of cosmetology itself has so many possibilities in the workforce. That continually educating yourself will keep you abreast in this ever-changing industry. I hope I can inspire my students in some small way so they can seek out their achievements and dreams."
In addition to inspiring her students, DeBartolo is inspired by many things around her, from well-known hair designers at a class she took to people she worked with in the past.
"I also find it reviving when I attend beauty trade shows and observe future leaders in the hair industry," she said. "I'm always seeking out new trends that I can bring back to the classroom."