Esther Molfese was 14 when she began working in her sister-in-law’s salon.
“I worked as a shampoo girl for her, and on Sundays I helped her do hair for senior citizens,” she said. “It was a great way to gain hands-on experience.”
Molfese enrolled in classes at DAVEA (now the Technology Center of DuPage) and was in the first class taught by Sharon Krudel, who became her mentor. Molfese enjoyed participating in competitions, placing fourth in Skills USA and sixth in the Midwest Beauty Show, which was great for students from a new program.
“It gave me the hunger to keep on being more successful in the field,” she said.
After graduating, she landed a job doing hair and makeup at Continental Cable. Then she began freelancing for a variety of photographers, also doing hair and makeup, something she continues to this day. Her three sons also modeled, and one son – who ironically was in Krudel’s last cosmetology class at TCD – now owns a salon.
It was Krudel who called Molfese and asked if she would consider teaching. She agreed and has never stopped teaching.
What Molfese enjoys most is sharing her experiences, which includes managing two salons and taking classes around the world.
“I tell my students to always invest in their career,” she said. “Wherever they go, take a class. If you can’t find a class locally, broaden your search, take a vacation and enroll in a class there. Everything in their lives is a learning experience. And I want my students to feel like they have the same knowledge and hands-on experience I have that I’ve shared with them.
“Their success is so important to me. If they don’t have a job, I want to help them so they can support themselves. I want to show them that this field is like a big umbrella, under which there are a lot of places to find work.”
Former students are continually contacting Molfese, whether they are looking for models or want her to see their own salons, and she enjoys hearing about their successes.
“The reason I get up every morning and come to work is because I’m always asking myself, ‘How can I change someone’s life?’ The world has given me so much that I feel I have so much to share.”