Yellow Strawberry Hair Salon’s Fashion Focus Academy is killing it in the locks department for our mini-metropolitan community—creating “Big City” opportunities for Gulf Coast’s aspiring hair stylists. The school takes training to another level, ensuring that students graduate “salon-ready,” as they say. Recently hosting one of the most prestigious local styling conferences featuring special guest Cole Thompson, former Vidal Sassoon educator and international creative director for Elevation H, and reps from Hattori Hanzo—maker of top-of-the-line shears used by prestigious celebrity stylists for Vogue, New York Fashion week and Broadway—the Academy stays a cut above. Thompson’s global presence roughly equates to the Gordon Ramsey for hair salons worldwide. Elevation H is a Beverly Hills-based education company working with salons to develop business structure and build creative strategies, as well as helping stylists with their technical skills, proficiency and ingenuity. The beautiful, newly renovated Fashion Focus studio buzzed with energy and excitement to soak up Thompson’s tutorials and to mirror his hands-on expertise. “Luckily these guys are already working to a very high standard,” says Thompson. “They’re already a great salon with a solid structure and brand.” He has nothing but praise for Fashion Focus Academy’s progressive business savvy and genuine care for clients. “We’re not focusing on the newest, craziest trends on the runway,” he continues. “We realize clients are not catwalk models, they’re everyday people, so we’re educating the students on approaches/techniques that’ll make their clients happy long-term.”