A Rich History
A look back through 100+ years of the beauty, barber, and wellness education sector:
1893: The first barber school in the United States is founded by A.B. Moler in Chicago, IL.
1920s and 1930s: The beauty industry begins to thrive in conjunction with the increasing popularity of Hollywood films and beauty culture. As a result, cosmetology schools begin to surface across the country, offering training in hairdressing, makeup, and other beauty services.
1924: All American Beauty School Association (now known as AACS) is founded as a national non-profit association open to all privately owned schools in the cosmetology arts & sciences. The association was formed to bring together all facets of the cosmetology industry; to further the education of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences; and to represent the interest of cosmetology institutions and students before Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, and state legislatures.
1930s: Electrical tools make their first appearance and aid stylists to work more efficiently and creatively, and to see more clients during their workday.
1940s and 1950s: Demand for cosmetologists continued to grow during the middle of the 20th century. Short haircuts became the standard with WWII, and cosmetologists were charged with the duty of giving women a perfect bob haircut. In shops, cosmetologists were the first people with ready access to beauty products. Stylists were in high demand during this era and in turn started earning better wages.
1953: During the 1953 International Beauty Show, N.F. (Nick) Cimaglia (pictured at right) brings together representatives of all segments of the beauty industry to seek ways of overcoming the operator shortage that existed at that time. The result of this meeting was the formation of the Beauty Career Council (BCC), financed by the NBBMA, BBSI, NHCA, All American and Cimaglia himself. The program came under the leadership of Cimaglia in 1957 when he was Executive Secretary of the NACS. It was then under the auspices of the National Association of Cosmetology Schools (NACS), but still financed by Cimaglia.
1957: The National Association of Cosmetology Schools (NACS) evolves from the originally named organization, under the leadership of its first president, F.W. (Bill) Lorrick and Executive Secretary N.F. (Nick) Cimaglia. Cimaglia organizes the Teachers’ Education Council (TEC), the educational arm of NACS, which at a later date becomes the Career Educators Alliance (CEA).
1958: A charter member of NACS, Benedict (Ben) Gripaldi serves as officer and Director from 1958 until his election to the presidency of NACS (1962-1964).
1963: Cimaglia joins Sam Napers, then President of NACS, in the organization of the National Association of Accredited Cosmetology Schools (NAACS). Cimaglia serves as commission consultant until AACS merges with ACCE in 1969 to form the Cosmetology Accrediting Commission (CAC).
1960s and 1970s: Hair color became for widely accessible and common. Cosmetologists helped women perfect the do’s of the era influenced by starts like Twiggy and Cher.
1964: NACS President Ben Gripaldi (pictured in newspaper clipping, left), formerly director of Park Beauty School, becomes Executive Director, and goes on to serve in this role for 20 years.
1969: The Cosmetology Accrediting Commission (now known as NACCAS) is created; an independent accrediting body for postsecondary schools and departments of cosmetology arts and sciences, including specialized schools.
1974: Cimaglia organizes, as part of the Teachers’ Educational Council (TEC, now CEA), the Teachers’ Achievement Program (TAP). This program, sponsored and operated by TEC, was designed to further the education and the training of licensed and practicing teachers of cosmetology. Cimaglia’s activities in the cosmetology school field continued unabated until he died in 1984.
1975: The AACS Past Presidents’ Club establishes the N.F. Cimaglia Award in honor of N. F. Cimaglia’s Contributions to Cosmetology Education. N. F. (Nick) Cimaglia was deeply involved in association affairs beginning in 1939 when he attended the All American Convention and right up to his death on November 4, 1984. In 1949, he published, without charge, the All American Bulletin, and continued to publish the bulletin until August, 1956, when he resigned.
1980: CAC’s name is changed to the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences (NACCAS), which would later change to the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences. NACCAS now offers quarterly accreditation workshops, at which AACS presents an exhibitor hall.
1986: NACS changes its name to NAACS (National Association of Accredited Cosmetology Schools).
1990-1992: NAACS President Art Resso leads the organization through a difficult time as many schools were dealing with increased and difficult regulations. A remark at the 1991 Annual Conference declared “An era is ending and the old ways are no longer adequate to meet the demands of the 1990’s. Only through a collective and coordinated effort can school owners and their students be heard in Washington and their state capitols.”
1991: NAACS changes its name to AACS (Association of Accredited Cosmetology Schools).
1994: The organization makes a final name change to American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS). This change was meant to reflect and be inclusive of all members served, not just schools with accreditation.
2009: “Beauty Changes Lives” campaign created, included a launch event during the 2009 Annual Convention, featuring 12 industry icons sharing the message, “I am a beauty school graduate and it has changed my life.”
2020: The Covid-19 pandemic delivers a devastating effect on the beauty and wellness industry (among many other industries). AACS pivots operating procedures to keep staff and members safe during this uncertain time, without missing a beat in advocacy efforts. Via Zoom, AACS met with 84 members of Congress during the pandemic, and continued to build relationships with those in Washington, D.C. Through all the challenges of the pandemic, AACS continues to advocate for the sector and protect for-profit beauty, barber, and wellness schools.
2021: The Golden School Awards is introduced at the AACS Annual Conference. The Golden School Awards recognize the leaders in industry in the following categories: Community Involvement, Facilities, Marketing Innovation, Legacy Alumni, Placement, School Culture, Advocacy, School of the Year, and Student Salon & Spa.
2023: Mike Vanacore, Jr., and an icon in the cosmetology school industry, passes away peacefully on Friday December 22, 2023. Mike was instrumental in the leadership of AACS throughout the years, serving on the Board of Directors and as an active AACS member. Mike was recipient of the AACS Director of the Year Award and the Cimaglia Lifetime Achievement Award.
2024: AACS reaches its centennial anniversary and celebrates the milestone with Members and Partners throughout the year.