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Ruby Polanco President/Founder of the Ruby Makeup Academy

Makeup academy founder makes Hollywood dreams come true

By Matthew Davis
Published on LatinoLA: October 16, 2015


Ruby Polanco President/Founder of the Ruby Makeup Academy


[b]Ruby Polanco is the President/Founder of the Ruby Makeup Academy, with four locations in the Southern California area including the Inland Empire. The academy offers its students courses in personal makeup, character makeup, airbrushing, beauty, fashion, and special effects, opening its first doors in 2006.[b]

Polanco was one of the executives featured in Professional Women's Magazine, 2015 Best of the Best Issue, the 2014 Profiles in Diversity Journal, Women Worth Watching Issue, and Inc. Magazine highlighted the academy in its 2015 Inc. 5000 and in 2014 as one of the 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America Issue. Before becoming a successful executive, she learned much about conquering hardships. As a 17-year-old single mother, she prioritized her education, acquiring her bachelor's and several certifications after dropping out of high school. With a turbulent economy around the 2008 financial crises, she was forced to shift endeavors, but found success largely because of her passion and willingness to learn.

She would tell her younger self, not to pay attention to what people say. She has said one of her biggest mistakes was listening to what people said about her or her business. For someone looking to switch careers, her advice is to take professional courses to enhance your acumen, build your portfolio, learn how to network and prove yourself. Learn from your mistakes, they will be "the best experience in your life."

In growing from one location to four, the most difficult factors were creating the positions to run multiple branches, knowing who to hire, and building the team. When choosing a new location, she looks at mid-level socioeconomic communities that are somewhat overpopulated by minorities. 90% of the schools' demographic is young Latina women, and she wants to continue allowing the opportunity/training to be accessible to all.

When the academy first opened there were not many makeup schools around; their brand did not have much competition. Today however there are many schools, particularly in Southern California, and the challenges involve trying to stay on top by constantly evolving. The academy provides models for others to copy, and continues to grow, looking to expand to other parts of the country. Students are given programs that best suit their career intentions, and a sense of community that they can often return to in the way of internships or employment. There are support system mentorships and sponsorships, and opportunities to return and refresh on the newest trends.

Looking back, Ruby has said the biggest change for her today in terms of management, is that she now has systems in place to make sure the business is growing and ways to hold those systems accountable. In the beginning she was unable tell if the business was doing better or worse, but by applying goals and a map to get there she was able to better track her growth.

What she loves most about running this business, is selling dreams instead of products. She sells a career, a lifestyle, and receives a lot from the students in return.

"The feeling of seeing them achieve is very fulfilling. I sell a career that can change their life, it's not a routine. It's not pushing paper, it's not answering phones ÔÇô it's fun."

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