A Preeminent Leader in the Beauty & Wellness Education Sector
When Michael Halmon skyrocketed up Florida’s commercial banking ladder in the late 1980s, he joined together with fellow minorities in his field to create the Tampa Bay Urban Bankers Association.
There were six members.
“It was a time, however, that banks were recognizing they had to diversify,” Halmon said.
Black History Month provides a chance for Halmon to reflect on not just his achievements and the hard work he put into establishing a career in the banking industry and then excelling in the beauty industry but also the time he has spent delivering on his school’s motto: “Changing lives one student at a time.”
“We built the school from ground up. It was a way to impact individuals lives,” Halmon said of his Clearwater location, which just celebrated 20 years. “We opened up with one student walking in the school the first day.”
Halmon grew up in the notoriously tough Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. His mom wanted him to head to Jamaica, where they had family. But Halmon had a different plan: The Marine Corps became his ticket out.
While in the Marines, Halmon traveled the world. He ping-ponged between Okinawa, South Korea, and eventually Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It was there, in the early 1980s, that he met a local woman. He and Esther soon married and had two sons together.
Halmon earned a degree in finance and then an MBA from the University of South Florida. He went into commercial banking and then opened a beauty supply business.
It was then he realized he could build something himself – from the ground up.
“Coming from where I came from in New York, I saw a lot of people who did not recognize the opportunities in life. You can be whatever you want to be in this country,” Halmon said.
Halmon opened his Clearwater school and eventually a second school in St. Petersburg. And almost immediately, Halmon joined the American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) – a membership that has lasted two decades.
During his time as an AACS member, including a term as board chair, Halmon has taken it upon himself to mentor other minority school owners and encourage them to be part of the AACS community.
“There are lot of owners who have never done anything like this before and aren’t sure where to start,” he said. “I believe in making connections. I believe in networking. There are a number of minority school owners out there, but they are not connected. AACS is a tool to increase our networking opportunities and to learn from and help each other.”
Cecil Kidd, AACS Executive Director, watched Halmon make an impact at the organization.
“Michael Halmon is always a consummate professional. Michael is a true leader bringing out the best in people with his leadership style. He is skilled in developing consensus even during challenging situations,” Kidd said.
At 61, Halmon already has a succession plan for his schools in St. Petersburg and Clearwater. His son Mike is starting to take over the business with hopes for future expansion.
But Halmon cautioned he’s not slowing down just yet. He wants to continue being an advocate for beauty schools and minority-owned businesses. He wants to start a minority caucus of school owners to create resources and to impart his knowledge on a new generation of owners. And most importantly, he wants to continue pushing students to succeed.