Styling a Career
Building trust is the secret to success for Cosmetology grad Lenny Murphy
Business is good for Lenny Murphy.
His salon, Murphy’s Family Barbershop and Salon in Appleton, opened in March 2021 and he has built a solid clientele. His customers even include a few athletes who play for the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Cubs and their families (just don’t ask Lenny to disclose their names).
He prides himself on building relationships. “I'm a fan of quality, not quantity, so in my salon I don't allow speed cutting,” he explains. “We take time to get to know our customers, and it goes a long way. I love it when people leave here with a smile on their face.”
This career isn’t Lenny’s first rodeo, however. After a 12-year military career ending in disability, various other jobs—plus some hard times—he decided it was time for a new start.
When the FVTC Cosmetology technical diploma program was added in 2019, Lenny was one of the first students to enroll. “I had to pull myself out of it, so I decided to come back to school,” he says. He had GI Bill benefits and he’d always loved cosmetology. And with the new program starting up, the timing was perfect. “I said, ‘sign me up. I’m ready for it.’ And I did it. I can’t say enough positive things about it. Fox Valley Tech really helped me through a lot.”
Students in the Cosmetology program have a full-service salon at their disposal. Trilogy Salon & Spa opened in 2019 and provides students with the resources needed to learn all aspects of the cosmetology industry. They have all the tools to provide most hair services from hair cutting, hair coloring, textures (keratin, relaxing or perming), braiding, styling for everyday or special occasions, facials, body waxing, makeup, and nail care services from basic manicures/pedicures, artificial nails, as well as nail art.
Lenny appreciated having this equipment at his disposal. “FVTC has the best of everything in the salon here. Some of the tools here haven’t even made it out into the industry yet.”
In addition to the hands-on training, it was the instructors who helped prepare Lenny and his classmates for the real world. “The instructors made it feel like home, plus they have so much real-world knowledge of the industry,” he explains.
In particular, he credits Cosmetology Instructor Suzi Bellman with showing him the ropes. “Suzi got me from zero to getting my own business,” he says. “When I started, I thought I knew it all and she just laughed. She took us through the whole process from start to finish and she was right—there was a lot I had to learn before I could just go in and start cutting. When we learned how to color, she took us on a walk through the nature trail to show us how shadows affect colors. Now I use that same concept with natural lighting in my salon.”
Suzi enjoyed having Lenny in class. “Lenny was a very passionate student. He had some major health issues while he was in school, but he loved every aspect of school and worked hard to master every skill.”
Early Life Lessons
Lenny’s interest in cosmetology started at a young age. He was raised in a small town in southern Georgia with his four sisters and brother in a close-knit family, and he began cutting his sisters' hair when he was just eight years old. As a teenager, he explains, “I wanted to be a little gangster.” But his aunt owned a salon and had other plans for him. “My auntie popped me upside the head, and said, ‘Give me another answer,’ and I gave her the same answer. She said, ‘Mr. Gangster, get back there and start shampooing some hair.’ So I did my first shampoo and the lady fell asleep. That’s how I found out that I had a talent for shampooing.”
He has since developed that talent into a successful career. And while he says his specialty is hair color, his true passion is in working with people. “I’m a people person, so I really like getting to know my clients. I make it fun for them.”
Classroom in the Salon
Trilogy Salon & Spa is a state-of-the-art salon and learning lab for FVTC students in the Cosmetology, Aesthetician and Therapeutic Massage programs. All services are performed by students and supervised by licensed instructors and is open to the public for appointments.
Cosmetology students have the tools to provide most hair services from hair cutting, hair coloring, textures (keratin, relaxing or perming), braiding, styling for everyday or special occasions, facials, body waxing, makeup, and nail care services from basic manicures/pedicures, artificial nails, as well as nail art.
Aesthetician students learn everything from the fundamental concepts to the latest techniques in skincare treatments and services including facial and body treatments, skin analysis, hair removal and makeup application. A new Master Aesthetician associate degree program has also been added.
Therapeutic Massage students gain a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy with specific attention focused on the musculoskeletal system and will receive a high degree of technical training with emphasis on massage techniques and therapy applications.