As an entrepreneur, educator, stylist, and administrator, Genia Church has worn multiple hats throughout her 25-year career in the beauty industry.
"I coach and mentor hairstylists on how to evolve in their career, and not just as a hairstylist because we're more than hairstylists," Church says. "I think you should never get too complacent; you should always expand your knowledge and further your education."
Church was one of just five finalists in the nation in the 31st annual North American Hairstyling Awards in the hair color category in January.
"Competition work is a great way to promote yourself, but that exposure is usually not my end goal," Church says. "When I enter a competition, my goal is to push my creative limits and become a more well-rounded hairstylist."
After graduating from Marion County High School in 1993, Church moved to Chattanooga and enrolled in Chattanooga State Community College's cosmetology program. Following the completion of her degree, she worked in salons in the Chattanooga area and eventually moved into a management role at Epiphany Day Spa.
Church's career evolved even further in 2008 when she purchased Epiphany, and under her leadership, Salon by Epiphany has expanded into a second location, the Color and Blowdry Bar by Epiphany. Prior to COVID-19, Salon by Epiphany saw roughly 200 clients a week, with service prices ranging from $65 for a haircut to $150 or more for color treatments.
When she isn't behind the chair or running her businesses, she is educating future stylists and entrepreneurs. Church was recognized by Chattanooga Urban League Young Professionals as one of the top female entrepreneurs in 2013, and has served on the advisory board for the Hamilton County Department of Education's cosmetology programs. She is currently the executive director of the cosmetology program at Chattanooga College.
* Roles: Has owned Salon by Epiphany since 2008, and has been the executive director of the cosmetology program at Chattanooga College since 2017.
* Honors: Was one of just five finalists in the North American Hairstyling Awards in the color category in January.
* Personal: Married to Robert Church, who works for McKee Foods. Their son, Jaylen Church, is a mechanical engineering student at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.
By applying similar business practices from her entrepreneurial career, Church grew the Chattanooga College cosmetology program's enrollment from 12 students when she started in 2017 to over 100 students today, making it the largest program of its nature in the area.
Her role as an educator goes well beyond Hamilton County, as well, with her experiences on the Schwarzkopf Professional National Artistic Team, a beauty company that sells products and provides educational sessions for people within that industry.
Church also developed the "Embrace Texture" curriculum, which is an educational program geared toward manipulating a wide variety of hair textures or fabrics. She travels the country teaching at salons upon request.
Church credits her ability to balance all of her responsibilities to her support system, including her husband and assistant, who help her compartmentalize her work to focus on one job at a time.
"Throughout my entire career, I've been about pushing my limits and trying to always be innovative in my approach to designing a career that I'll always love and never work a day in my life," Church says.