Updated: October 1, 2022
A talk with Chad Clark of Artisan School of Cosmetology
Story by Meredith S. Jensen
makeover, a haircut, new nail polish, whatever it may be, when it comes to beauty, sometimes you need a change to mix things up. The same sentiment works in the business world—a truth Chad Clark, co-owner of the Artisan School of Cosmetology, knows well.
A native of Meigs County, Ohio, Clark always felt called to own a small business. Even with a background in health care, he has run a clothing store, a salon and spa, and more throughout the years.
“Owning your own business is a great thing,” he said. “I love being able to have the final say and being my own boss.”
When he found himself unsatisfied in a different field, Clark knew it was time for a career change. He teamed up with co-owner Mark Binegar six years ago to start a high-quality cosmetology institute for the Mid Ohio Valley. Binegar of Marietta, Ohio, has been in the cosmetology industry for years and is the design-and-style foil to Clark’s business role. “He’s the artist,” Clark said. “I can’t even draw a stick figure.”
With nearly 30 years of hands-on salon experience behind them, the pair opened their first Artisan School of Cosmetology in Parkersburg, W.Va. in October 2012. The 4,000 square-foot campus offers students a state-of-the-art workspace to grow and develop their skills. According to Clark, the first school was “crazy busy nonstop with tons of students and clients,” so he and Binegar added another location. In September 2016, they opened their second campus in Marietta, a 6,000 square-foot space devoted to turning up-and-coming talent into efficacious artists. Clark loves seeing what the students create every single day for their clients.
“We’re striving for success in this,” he said. “This industry as a whole is constantly changing. It’s never going away; there are so many possibilities. I have so much drive and excitement for our students. That’s what makes us go. It’s exciting for them, the instructors, and us.”
The top-notch education from the Artisan School of Cosmetology is well earned. The Parkersburg campus offers 1,800 hours in cosmetology training to get a cosmetology license in the state of West Virginia. Throughout the course, students learn the arts of hairdressing, esthetics, and nails. Or one can opt for the 1,000-hour hair stylist-licensing course or the 600-hour esthetician program. Marietta offers courses for licensing in the state of Ohio. That location’s programs include a 1,500-hour cosmology program, an additional 300 hours in advanced cosmetology, an additional 300 hours in advanced nail technology, and a 1,200-hour course in hairdressing. The classes also teach extensively on Ohio state law regarding human trafficking.
To Clark, the long hours of hands-on schooling are win-win. The students can get real world experience doing everything from first haircuts to senior perms, shampoos, facials, nails and eyebrow waxes. Clients, in turn, get to feel pampered. Customers come in just like any other salon for cuts, styles, color treatments, manicures, makeup sessions, and more.
The two locations are just the beginning for Clark and Binegar. At the time of publication, they were working on getting accreditation and funding to open eight to 10 additional schools throughout Ohio and West Virginia. Within the course of the next year, the Artisan School of Cosmetology will be well on its way to graduating even more successful stylists and estheticians — as long as they have the drive and motivation.
“This isn’t for everyone,” Clark said. “First and foremost you have to want to do it, to have constant drive. This is a cutthroat industry and you have to constantly be on your toes. We stress that from day one. It’s not an easy business, but the money is there. You just have to want it.”
Those who want it and make it to the end of the course really grow as budding cosmetologists, Clark said. Over 90 percent of their students have jobs in place before they even graduate from the program.
“I love it. From the day they sign up to the day they graduate, it’s a complete 180,” he said, “It’s like they’re growing up and you’re seeing your kids leave the house. We cry when they leave and they cry because we all become very close.”
Every graduate receives a copy of Dolly Parton’s book as a special gift to inspire them on their journey forward. But it’s not always a bad thing if the graduates return home now and then and share the joy of their accomplishments.
“The greatest thing ever is having them come back to say ‘oh my gosh, I love it. I am making such good money,’” Clark said. “Your success is our success. If you aren’t then we aren’t. It’s simple. So to see them doing well is so great and rewarding.”