Protégé Academy /ENSO/Hair & Body Elements
Two businesses are growing and one is being “right-sized” in the 10-year-old Chandler Crossings Plaza, 16800 Chandler Road in East Lansing. The big winner here is Protégé Academy, a 7-year-old cosmetology school that is swapping suites with ENSO, the Mediterranean-themed restaurant that never quite took off after its 2009 debut. This shuffle will put Protégé in the highly visible anchor position on the shopping strip’s south end.
“I wanted to create a school where students would receive the type of training that could get them recognized nationally and internationally,” said Lynn Seegraves, Protégé founder and CEO. “I’m thrilled about this move. It’s so exciting to see my vision becoming a reality.”
Shortly after it opened in Chandler Crossings in 2005, Protégé expanded into the space next door and grew from 2,400 square feet to 4,200 square feet. This latest move gives aspiring cosmetologists 6,400 square feet of scissor-slinging elbow room. Seegraves says that students will still have one-on-one attention from instructors, and the school will hire additional teachers as the student population grows. She declined to give exact numbers, but said that the new space allows her to double the size of the student body. Additionally, Hair and Body Elements, the hair salon she also owns and operates in one of the other Chandler Crossings suites, will also be expanding when it relocates in the adjacent slot next month.
Seegraves has been a hair stylist for 34 years, receiving her license at age 17 from the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Toronto. She established Protégé as a TIGI Creative School, which is internationally recognized for its advanced educational academies and extensive product branding. One of Protégé’s more dynamic features is its study abroad program: Only a few cosmetology schools in the country offer this type of curriculum.
“We try to impart a feeling of global community into our students so they’ll never want to be just cosmetologists,” Seegraves said. “We try to make them hungry for more, to always want to be furthering their education. I mean, once you really open the truth about something, do you ever want to go back to that narrow state?”
Meanwhile, contrary to popular belief, ENSO is not closing. Instead, it’s being scaled down and retooled as a more intimate tapas bar. The new incarnation is expected to re-open later this summer in Protégé’s former (smaller) spot.