Originally published in December 2017
The owners of Evergreen Beauty College have thought for years that they might like to open a new location east of the Cascades. They just didn’t know where.
All it took was a visit to Yakima a couple years ago and the Trieu family was sold.
“We went out to Miner’s and saw a bunch of families eating together, which you don’t see very much on the west side,” said company president Joe Trieu, who runs the business with help from his two brothers, his sister and their mom.
“We started thinking that our culture fits well with the family culture in Yakima, and my mom said, ‘we should open a school here.’ So we started looking around at some possible locations and finally found the right one.”
Evergreen Beauty College’s fourth school at 401 N. First St. is well known to local residents, both because of its central location and because it has been home to two other beauty schools over the years.
The Evergreen team started redeveloping the site in early September and plan to start offering classes Feb. 1.
“There’s a lot of history in that spot, and Yakima is accustomed to it being a beauty school,” Trieu said. “We decided to give it a face lift and set it up the way we know how. But the fact that it used to be a beauty school did play in to our decision to locate there.”
Aside from finding the ideal location, the Trieus are equally excited about becoming active members of the Yakima business community.
They pride themselves on a holistic approach to their training, combining business knowledge and competency with an intensive training curriculum that covers the latest hair and makeup techniques.
“When my siblings and I started running the business about 10 years ago, we saw a huge opportunity to help people develop business skills that will help them start a career,” Trieu said. “The people we train are mostly artistic, creative types who don’t always think about the business side of things. We decided that we could help elevate our students more, and that model has really taken off.”
A Trieu Family Business
Evergreen Beauty College was started in 1996 by Trieu’s parents, Hoa and Thi, both immigrants from Vietnam.
The original location in Lynnwood is no longer in operation, but the family has three successful schools in Everett, Bellevue and Renton. The original school moved to Everett in 2002, while the Bellevue school opened in 2009 and the Renton location was introduced in 2012.
Three of their children — Joe Trieu, Frank Trieu and Theresa Tran — got involved in the business in 2006 when their father was battling cancer. He died in 2007, and his children decided to leave their corporate jobs to help their mom continue the successful venture.
Frank Trieu, a former real estate appraiser, is the vice president of business development. Theresa Tran left Goldman Sachs to become the VP of finance, while Joe Trieu was in pharmaceutical sales before becoming president of the company.
A fourth sibling, Paul Trieu, joined the team as the VP of information technology in 2016, leaving his post at Google.
“At first, we weren’t sure how long we would do it, but we wanted to help our mom with the transition,” Joe Trieu said. “It was a small school with a lot of potential, and we didn’t want to see it go away. So we stuck with it for six months and it ended up being a lot of fun. None of us ever went back to corporate America.”
What the family has found is that they can make a real difference in people’s lives, giving them an opportunity to better themselves and learn the skills to run their own business someday.
The Trieus have gained so much satisfaction from helping young stylists and makeup artists that they don’t want to do anything else.
“Seeing our students succeed is an amazing feeling, and we continue to turn out more success stories every year,” Trieu said. “I don’t know if we’ve found the silver bullet, but it’s been great to see so many people attracted to our philosophy.”
A Strong Reputation
Evergreen Beauty College has been named one of the best companies to work for by Seattle Magazine in each of the past four years. The school has become one of the top job placement schools in North America and is consistently lauded for its company culture.
Modern Salon Magazine recently named Evergreen as its Top Beauty School, recognizing its excellence in education.
“We’ve earned a lot of praise in the industry, and I think that comes back to our family values,” Trieu said. “We saw how hard our parents worked to get it started, and we thought it was important to keep it going. But we also want to help people make better lives for themselves. That’s what really drives us.”
Evergreen currently has about 55 employees, not including the staff it will employ in the Yakima school. Three teachers and three support staff will be on board to get the school off the ground and more positions could be added eventually, Trieu said.
Evergreen offers two different tracks — cosmetology takes about 11 months and hair design requires about nine months. The school will also offer an intensive makeup artistry course that Trieu believes will help set Evergreen apart.
“Makeup artistry is typically just a small component at most beauty schools, but we require 84 hours of training instead of just a couple hours,” Trieu said. “We want our students to understand all the details about lighting, contours, shading and so on. Lighting plays a huge role in makeup artistry and we take it very seriously.”
Teaching the business side is equally important to the owners, and those aspects have become a primary focus for the school in recent years.
Trieu says the school doesn’t want to graduate students who aren’t ready for the real world, and they don’t want to send out people who are unprepared.
The school takes an active role in helping its students reach their potential, scheduling monthly one-on-one sessions and teaching them business basics. The Trieus don’t want to see anyone fail, so they provide every opportunity they can for their students to succeed.
“We work with our students on a 90-day plan after they graduate so they will stick with it,” Trieu said. “We teach them how to find a job, how to interview, how to create a portfolio. But we also show them how to create revenue for a potential employer. Our students don’t just walk away with a beautician’s license; they also get a business certificate. That aspect of our business plan has been the most important.”