Education Team

ARAYA COURNOYER

ARAYA COURNOYER | Guest Services Team Educator

Araya is originally from Lake Andes, South Dakota. She moved to Minnesota in 2014 to pursue a passion in the beauty industry. Araya’s career at Simonson's began in 2014 when she joined the Guest Services Team. During this time, Araya also attended PCI Academy for cosmetology, graduating in 2015. In 2016, she was honored with the F.A.C.E.T.S. (Formidable Achievement Commendable Extraordinary Team Spirit) Award, a coveted honor received by three guest service team members each year.

In 2017, Araya accepted her role as Guest Services Educator. Araya is a natural leader by example, demonstrating the impact of a strong team member. Her joyful demeanor, work ethic, reliability, and professionalism are sincere and apparent to both guests and team members alike. Araya is passionate about sharing her wealth of knowledge, helping others improve their skillset and instilling drive in the Simonson’s Guest Services Team.

When not working, you can find Araya eating pho at her favorite restaurant, thrift shopping, or drinking coffee with her dog, Roxy, by her side.

ASHLEY SCHUMACHER

ASHLEY SCHUMACHER | Haircutting Educator

Ashley graduated from Josef’s School of Hair Design in Fargo, ND in 1998. She specialized in advanced haircutting and styling while working at Rocco Altobelli and grew this body of knowledge exponentially after incorporating Vidal Sassoon’s haircutting methodologies. Ashley’s skills were put to the real test in an internationally judged hair show completion where she placed in the top ten of one event and in the top 15 of another.

Ashley joined Simonson’s Salon & Spa in 2010 and expanded her cutting and styling repertoire to include color enhancement and texture services. A few short months later, she seized the opportunity to share with her peers and grow her own career by joining Simonson’s education team in the capacity of a Haircutting Educator. Her goal is to guide every stylist under her mentorship to appreciably further their haircutting knowledge and abilities. Ashley believes that the occasion to enrich our expertise exists in every head of hair - regardless of how much experience you may have.

CASSANDRA THOMPSON

CASSANDRA THOMPSON | Color Educator

Cassandra graduated from the Scot Lewis School of Cosmetology in 2001, worked at City Looks Salon and was an educator for Trucco Cosmetics. Cassandra joined Simonson’s Salon & Spa in 2006 and immediately recognized she had become part of a company that strives to be the best in the industry. Simonson's impressive education department was a perfect fit with Cassandra's ambition develop her skills and knowledge as a stylist.

Cassandra is well-suited for the Color Educator role she holds. Helping her peers perfect their color skills to create beautiful, masterful works of art comes naturally Cassandra. She knows that staying relevant in a fashion forward business means you must constantly challenge yourself to learn new things while never losing sight of the sound foundation of basics upon which they rest.

"We all encounter hair color situations from time to time that require a formulaic approach" Cassandra says. "My job is to make that process effortless. When I can help someone have an "ah-hah" moment, that is the best reward." Knowing that it's relatively rare to hear people say they love their job, Cassandra feels blessed to be able to say she truly LOVES HER JOB!

DARLENE BENHAM

DARLENE BENHAM | Body Contour Purifying Wrap Educator

Darlene graduated from Northwestern Health Sciences University with honors in August 2006 with a certification in Massage Therapy. Soon after graduation, she began her career as a Massage Therapist for Life Time Fitness. After a few short months, she was promoted to Massage Department Head and completed the rigorous training to become a LifeSpa Manger. During her management role, she was in charge of training all staff in daily operations and services including Hot Stone Massage and salt and sugar scrubs. "I enjoyed the training portion of my work, to teach my peers new modalities and see them grow more knowledgeable and confident and succeed."

Darlene has been with Simonson's Salon & Spa since August 2010. She specializes in shoulder and rotator cuff issues, helps guests manage migraines and other chronic pain concerns but still loves to perform relaxation massages for guests as well. She is particularly fond of the Body Contour Purifying Wraps, continually perfecting her skills in the service and taking continuing education from M'Lis and in lymphatic studies to better understand how the wraps work with the body. "The body wraps we offer at Simonson's have become a passion of mine and I am excited to have the opportunity to share that passion and knowledge with my peers as an educator."

Darlene resides in the greater northwest suburbs of Minneapolis with her husband of more than 22 years. They enjoy traveling, writing music and scoping-out new restaurants together.

HOLLY ERICKSON

HOLLY ERICKSON | Nails Educator

Licensed in both aesthetics and nails, Holly graduated from St. Cloud Beauty College in November 1990. She quickly found her passion and began her career exclusively in nails in 1991. In August of 2004, Holly joined the Simonson’s Salon & Spa team as a nail technician. As her experience grew, she identified that sharing her knowledge with others was a desire she needed to fulfill. In summer of 2014, Holly embraced the opportunity to join Simonson’s education team in a role that helps support, promote and grow the nail department.

“Everyone has a story to tell, a lesson to teach or wisdom to share. Life is a beautiful masterpiece bound together by experiences. Open up and share your story; become an inspiration to others, you can make a difference because you matter. Live your life with intention, go out there and make a difference by being the difference” (Melanie Koulris). Holly lives and breathes these words each and every day, making her an inspiration to everyone on the Simonson’s team.

HOLLY KLESCHOLD

HOLLY KLESCHOLD | Haircutting and Styling Educator

Holly started her career at Simonson's in 2013 and has quickly become a leader in her field of expertise. She grew up in the salon industry watching her mother become an expert in nails, therefore it was only natural she followed in her mother’s footsteps and joined the beauty industry attending the Minnesota School of Cosmetology to peruse the art of making people look and feel beautiful.

Holly has an eye for modern, unique and trending looks; she pushes the boundaries of beautiful with her specialization and artistry in women's haircuts and styles. As a part of the Simonson’s Education Team, Holly’s expertise and passion for helping others work in synergy making learning something new fun and enjoyable to all. Her approachable demeanor and upbeat, playful attitude allow her to connect and build strong relationships with those around her.

Holly resides in Minneapolis with her boyfriend Marcel and enjoys being active, singing, and volunteering. One of Holly's favorite quotes is "you have to want it more than you’re afraid of it."

JANUARY BRANDT

JANUARY BRANDT | Aesthetics Educator

January is a 2002 graduate of the Aveda institute in Minneapolis. Upon graduation, she began her career at the Anoka Simonson's Salon and Spa. January excels in every area of aesthetics which is why she was the natural choice for promotion to the Aesthetics Educator position in 2006.

January has been around theatre and music her whole life. She enjoys the "creative side of life" and is the quintessential authority on things pop culture. She adores working with people and sharing her knowledge with others. January's role as the Aesthetics Educator allows her to educate and empower new aestheticians by helping them learn, understand and apply the fundamental knowledge of skin care treatments, products, cosmetics and waxing services. Mastery of these skills prepares aestheticians to deliver great results for the guests they serve and take pleasure in a thriving career at Simonson’s.

JENNIFER FREDRICHS

JENNIFER FREDRICHS | Micro-Current Educator

Jennifer has been a licensed aesthetician since 1996. She is a graduate of the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis and started her career at Simonson’s Salon and Spa in Maple Grove following her graduation. After a brief leave to raise her family, she rejoined the team in August of 2005. Jennifer is a ‘natural’ as she has always had an organic fascination with health and beauty subject matter. She especially enjoys helping guests discover their own beauty quotient through proper skincare and makeup artistry. Jennifer has a vast knowledge of cosmetic ingredients and specializes in acne treatments and Micro-Current.

As a seasoned aesthetician, Jennifer supports the development of her peers by sharing her powerful understanding of the skin and the role cosmetic ingredients play in obtaining sought after results. As a highly regarded expert in Micro-Current, she is a lauded addition to Simonson’s educator team. Jennifer enjoys working at Simonson's and looks forward to many more years.

JENNIFER PUUMALA

JENNIFER PUUMALA | Guest Service Representative Educator

Jenni graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Psychology. Her coursework emphasized discovering how relationships and interactions between people and the environment influence our behaviors and the community. Her most memorable and rewarding experience at school was completing a field study as a child mentor for emotionally and physically abused children through a local shelter.

Jenni has been in the customer service field since 2004. In her previous role as Merchandising Team Leader with JoAnn Stores, she discovered a passion for identifying team member strengths and facilitating their professional growth. She enjoyed the creativity of resolving merchandising challenges within the store and energizing the team to rise above the challenge. In her role as a GSR Educator, Jenni enjoys fostering a sense of collaboration with her peers while applying her education and experience to better understand the team at both the individual and group level.

Jenni currently resides in Maple Grove. In her free time you can find her shopping the local boutiques or out walking one of the many trails around the metro area. In the winter, you might find her with family at their favorite escape in the south Pacific – Hawaii!

JENNY BAKER

JENNY BAKER | Stone Massage Educator

Jenny graduated with honors from Minneapolis school of Massage and bodyworks in October 1997 with a certificate in Massage Therapy. She began her career with Lifetime fitness, and a few years later in April of 1999, she joined the Simonson’s Salon and Spa Massage Team in Maple Grove. Jenny furthered her education and acquired Hot Stone certification with La Stone in 2000, and quickly became fond of providing hot stone modality within her services. “Stones are an extension of my hands, a Therapy that is equally helpful for the therapist as well as the guests. Massage is not a job to me; it is a passion and a career that I love!”

Within her craft, Jenny focuses on chronic pain and migraine management, while specializing in the use of Hot Stone Therapy massage within her discipline.
In November 2017, Jenny’s love of Hot Stone Therapy created an opportunity to become a Massage Educator and utilize that strength and passion to train and mentor our newest talent, as well, she hopes to use her positivity and enthusiasm to inspire her team with the love of Hot Stone Therapy.

Jenny resides in Andover, MN with her husband of 20 years and their two children Chase and Paige. They enjoy camping and hiking the great state of Minnesota.

JEN RETTKE

JEN RETTKE | Haircutting and Color Educator

A 2004 Regency Beauty Institute graduate, Jen began her career as a stylist working in Central Minnesota. In 2010 she joined the Simonsons Salon and Spa team. Jen has more than a decade of experience in the beauty industry. She believes the best part of her job is helping guests emanate their best selves through delivering an experience of perpetual renewal every time they visit Simonson’s. Jen creatively inspires change and personal development through the artistry of beauty, particularly hair color.

As a passionate and deliberate person with a zealous approach, Jen is able to communicate the importance of the foundations of hair color in an innovative and effective manner. She finds fulfillment in helping others master their craft, while encouraging them to be authentic and find individualism within the art of their work.

JESSICA SAVOREN

JESSICA SAVOREN | Haircutting Educator

A 2003 Regency Beauty graduate, Jessica began her career specializing in advanced haircutting and styling at Rocco Altobelli’s and continued her advanced haircutting education through Vidal Sassoon. She joined the Simonson's Salon and Spa team in 2005, servicing guests in all aspects of hair artistry. The knowledge she acquired from her specialized training helped prepare her advancement to Haircutting Educator in 2006.

Jessica believes that hair is a science; understanding that no one person can have the same hair style as someone else without first understanding their hair. Developing a stylist’s precision haircutting skills is at the heart of the curriculum Jessica teaches. These are the skills that help stylists discover and execute hairstyles that complement an individual’s facial features and hair texture by understanding shape, balance, cutting techniques and fashion trends.

MERCEDES ELSEN

MERCEDES ELSEN | Consultation Educator

Mercedes, a 2009 graduate of the Aveda Institute, joined Plymouth Simonson’s Salon and Spa team after graduation. She enjoys attending continuing education classes believing that the most important aspect of her job is to discover and share the services, products and advice that will best serve Simonson’s guests.

In her role as an educator, Mercedes teaches new stylists how detailed, comprehensive consultations can make the difference between missing, meeting or exceeding a guest’s expectations. She’s an advocate for the lost art of communication; asking the right questions, reading between the lines, identifying challenges and proposing solutions. Mastering this proficiency can play a pivotal role in the success of a new hire.

NOI PHOMMASAK

NOI PHOMMASAK | Natural Nail Educator

Licensed in Nails, Noi graduated with honors from the Minnesota School of Cosmetology in 2007. Immediately after graduating she joined the Simonson’s Salon and Spa Maple Grove team. As an advocate for continuing education, Noi obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Global Studies with a minor in Geography, where she was able to study and work in Paris and Sydney. As Noi completed her coursework, she realized that her true passion was in the beauty industry and returned to Simonson’s in August 2011.

In her role as educator, Noi utilizes her diverse skillset and expertise to mentor developing talent. Noi approaches her craft with positivity and enthusiasm and hopes to inspire team members to do the same every day.

SARAH KRIENKE

SARAH KRIENKE | Guest Service Representative Educator

Sarah started her career with Simonson’s as a Guest Service Representative (GSR) in 2003. Prior to joining the team, her work experience in the beauty industry included professional product sales and service sales education at an area cosmetology school. Sarah is a seasoned customer service expert who deftly navigates the competing demands of the GSR position with ease and grace, and she is also a member of the Safety Committee whose chief goal is to ensure an environment that’s safe for everyone.

Sarah was promoted to the position of a GSR educator in 2014. In this role, she’s responsible for training and mentoring members of the GSR team to become key players in the “perpetual renewal” guest experience. Sarah defines successful GSR development as maintaining a keen understanding of the industry’s services and products, acquiring proficient communication skills and always fanning the flames of passion to keep things fresh and exciting.

When not working, you can find Sarah reading and collecting real books, no kindle or nooks, crocheting and seeking out local bands to listen to with friends and family. She also loves spending time with her pride and joy, Cody, her Golden Retriever.

SHELLEY WILLIAMS

SHELLEY WILLIAMS | Microdermabrasion Educator

Shelley has been a licensed aesthetician since 1993. Immediately after graduating from Model College in St. Cloud, she joined the Simonson’s Anoka team (presently known as Coon Rapids). When Simonson’s Maple Grove opened in 1995, Shelley transferred to the new location as key contributor to the aesthetics team. She is a true testament to the Simonson’s creed, “if there is a better way, we’ll strive to find it”. Her resilient demeanor and expert knowledge have been an integral part of the growth and development of the Simonson’s spa department. Shelley’s commitment to excellence and support of her colleagues has allowed her to work in many leadership capacities throughout her career; making her a highly regarded expert in all aspects of the aesthetics business, especially Microdermabrasion.