Santa Monica
academy team

Ashley Berryhill

Academy Director

Describe the moment you knew your future was in the beauty industry:

I knew my future was in the beauty industry the minute I walked into TONI&GUY. I had been looking at other salons for months and nothing was clicking. On a friend's recommendation, I decided to go check out TONI&GUY and immediately felt like it was my new home.

Where did you go to school? When did you graduate?

I went to school in Orange County. It was a beauty school experience I feel could've been better.

For what skill(s), service(s) and technique(s) do you consider yourself an expert?

I consider myself an expert in hairdressing and educating.

What is the best industry- or technique-related advice you have ever been given?

Without risk there is no reward.

What is the best industry- or technique-related tip you can offer students?

Allow yourself to make mistakes in order to grow from them. Don't trap yourself by being a perfectionist.

What is your favorite part of working at TONI&GUY?

The culture. We truly are a family, and it feels good knowing everyone is on the same page.

What is your fondest memory of your time as a beauty school director?

My fondest memory is actually from our Student Soiree this year — seeing everyone just running around like crazy during prep. It always seems like it will never get done and the tension runs high, but once the show starts it is amazing to look around and see the looks of pride on everyone's faces. The students realize they can do things they felt were impossible just hours before. It feels pretty good.

Robina Smith

Education Director

Describe the moment you knew your future was in the beauty industry:

Before I became a cosmetologist, I had been an esthetician for about 10 years. I have always been interested and inspired by the beauty industry, but knew after I graduated from college I wanted to do more! That's when I decided to go back and add my cosmetology license, and I've loved it ever since.

Where did you go to school? When did you graduate?

I went to Salon Success Academy in Upland, CA, and graduated in 2008.

For what skill(s), service(s) and technique(s) do you consider yourself an expert?

I love color! Whether its highlighting, coloring, specialty/dimensional, it all excites me. But what I also love and I think I excel at is customer service. It's such an important part of what we do every day — and it's a big part of TONI&GUY's spotlight culture, which I love!

What is the best industry- or technique-related advice you have ever been given?

Always be open to change and growth. Everyone has something to teach you if you are open to it.

What is the best industry- or technique-related tip you can offer students?

Never stop learning! This industry constantly evolves, so you have to evolve with it!

What is your favorite part of working at TONI&GUY?

The spotlight culture and the people I've had the privilege to work with!

What is your fondest memory of your time as a beauty school director?

All of them. Whether as a Director or as an instructor, my favorite part has always been the students. I have so many memories of students that I will cherish. My goal is always to impact their lives as much as they've impacted mine.

Louis Espinoza

Cosmetology Instructor

Describe the moment you knew your future was in the beauty industry:

At the age of 7, hanging out at my father's salon. It was such an energetic environment, and everyone was having a good time doing hair.

Where did you go to school? When did you graduate?

The school of hard knocks!

For what skill(s), service(s) and technique(s) do you consider yourself an expert?

Cutting has been a passion of mine since day one. I've made it my top priority to continue my Advanced Education classes and to constantly practice my skills.

What is the best industry- or technique-related advice you have ever been given?

Never stop with your education in this industry! Always strive to perfect your skills even though you will never reach perfection as an artist.

What is the best industry- or technique-related tip you can offer students?

Never stop practicing your skills! Do the same haircut a 100 times!

What is(are) your go-to teaching style(s)?

I like to show the students an example of the technique I'm working on (for visuals) and then let them repeat it on their own (for kinesthetic).

What is your favorite part of instructing?

Just being a mentor for the students and seeing them develop their skills as they advance through our cosmetology school.

What is your fondest memory of your time as a beauty school student?

Looking back at all the mistakes I made and eventually learning from them! I messed up many cuts and colors well before I was in school, but they're learning experiences to help you grow! I was horrified back then of making clients cry in the chair, but now I can laugh at all those crazy experiences.

What is your fondest memory of your time as a beauty school instructor?

There are so many. It's just seeing the students have those "ah-ha! moments" at the academy when practicing their skills.

Shraddha Mamtora

Cosmetology Instructor

Describe the moment you knew your future was in the beauty industry:

I always had a desire to be in the fashion industry. I had an opportunity to walk the ramp for L'Oreal. I found my biggest inspiration backstage when I saw all the hairdressers work their magic. That was when I knew I wanted to become a hairdresser.

Where did you go to school? When did you graduate?

I went to L'Oreal International Hairdressing Academy in India and graduated in 2008.

For what skill(s), service(s) and technique(s) do you consider yourself an expert?

I am passionate about teaching cut and color. I have my expertise in haircutting and styling.

What is the best industry- or technique-related advice you have ever been given?

Never think you have learned everything. The day you think you know it all is the end of your successful hairdressing career. Keep learning!

What is the best industry- or technique-related tip you can offer students?

Same as above. Keep learning!

What is(are) your go-to teaching style(s)?

I believe in teaching the student the way they learn the best. I like to involve students and make it an interactive class for better learning. I also like to brainstorm with the students so that they know what they are doing and why they are doing it.

What is your favorite part of instructing?

My favorite part of instructing is the constant learning while I teach. When I have to explain the "what" and "why" behind what we're doing, it makes me think about it and gives me a better understanding of my work.

What is your fondest memory of your time as a beauty school student?

My graduation day has topped the list as my fondest memory from my time as a cosmetology student.

What is your fondest memory of your time as a beauty school instructor?

Every single day as an instructor adds to the list of my fond memories. I am unable to pick one!

Tracie VanderLinden

Cosmetology Instructor

Describe the moment you knew your future was in the beauty industry:

I knew I'd be doing hair when I passed the State Board!

Where did you go to school? When did you graduate?

Empire Beauty School in Hyannis, MA. Graduated in 2008.

For what skill(s), service(s) and technique(s) do you consider yourself an expert?

Cutting, coloring, and customer service.

What is the best industry- or technique-related advice you have ever been given?

Get good before you get fast.

What is the best industry- or technique-related tip you can offer students?

The same advice (above) that was given to me!

What is(are) your go-to teaching style(s)?

Go with the flow.

What is your favorite part of instructing?

Lightbulb moments my cosmetology school students have.

What is your fondest memory of your time as a beauty school instructor?

Watching someone succeed who thought they never would!