March 19, 2019

1979-2019: 40 Years of Beauty

This June, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of our first class at Hair Professionals Career College. Now, we’re looking back at the beginnings of Hair Pros and how much we have grown since 1979.

The Beginnings

Before opening Hair Pros, Wanda Zachary was working as a stylist in a salon. She found herself spending a lot of her time training new stylists.

“We were training stylists in the salon, working seven days a week,” she says. “They weren’t coming out of school with the skills they needed.”

Wanda realized she enjoyed the training and that there was a need for it, so she decided to open a school. Hair Pros welcomed its first class of 100 students in June of 1979, at what is now the Oswego campus.

The school started to grow quickly as more and more students signed up.

“We enjoyed it very much. I ended up quitting the salon in the first year because we were so busy,” Wanda says. “I enjoyed the educational aspect of it and it was what I was doing in the salon anyways.”

A Growing School

In the beginning, the school started growing by participating in competitions. Wanda and the other instructors traveled with students to competitions across the country, helping both the students and the school get out of a small town and be recognized. Today, students are still encouraged to look beyond their town and put their talent out there using tools like social media.

In about 1985, Hair Pros students won 1st place at America’s Beauty Show, a national beauty competition. A student also competed in the Hair Olympics and traveled to Germany. During this time students were professionally sponsored to travel and compete at well-known industry events.

In the late 1980s Hair Pros competed at an Illinois state competition against over 100 other schools and took all 5 places, first through fifth. Wanda says this is one of her most memorable moments of Hair Pros history.

During this time, the school grew even more as the Sycamore location opened in 1983 and the Palos Hills campus opened in 1998.

How Hair Pros is Different


Hair Pros has grown throughout the decades by teaching students in a different way from other beauty schools.

“We try to mimic the salon atmosphere in the school,” Wanda says. “One of the comments I hear is that this school looks like a salon.”

Our focus on hands-on learning sets us apart from other schools. Wanda makes sure that students at Hair Pros have their hands in hair their first day of school. While some schools focus on theory for the first several weeks or months of a student’s training, our students get to combine their theory with practical training.

Students like this approach because after finishing school, they will be doing hands-on work with hair rather than reading books or taking tests. Many beauty students are hands-on learners, so a curriculum designed to fit their learning needs can set them up for success.

“It’s on the job training. They know what they will be doing and they get training,” she says.

Learn More About Hair Pros

If hands-on learning in a salon atmosphere appeals to you, Hair Pros could be the right school for you. To learn more about becoming a student at Hair Pros, please get in touch!

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