Yvonne Berg- Learning with a Legend
Minnesota Cosmetologist of the Year, Yvonne Berg, credits education as the key to her success.
When you are talking about a “Legend,” where should the recap begin?
When it is Yvonne Berg, of Minneapolis, it begins with a sense of gratitude.
“My mother started it all,” she says, “and showed by example the truly committed spirit. She was a cosmetologist and continues with hair styling until she was 82 years old. And then there was my husband, Bill, who never offered a discouraging word. He was my helpmate, my partner, and he kept me going in everything that I did.”
Yvonne’s involvement in the cosmetics industry began with many hours spent in her mother’s salon. Cosmetology seemed a natural career choice for Yvonne. She graduated from Francis Nystrom Beauty School and paved a direct path to a lifetime career. Well, it was almost a direct path.
“Skin care always interested me, even back when Pond’s was the only ‘professional’ skin cream available,” Yvonne says. “Throughout my experiences in styling salons, I always felt that something was missing or that I was missing out on something.”
Yvonne later spent five years at Maxim’s in the old St. Paul Emporium, where she advanced from assistant manager to manager to supervisor. The next nine years found her at the Dayton/Hudson Corporation’s landmark salon, the South dale Looking Glass.
There she was introduced to Dion’s Electro Therapy, a manufacturer of electrical therapy machines for hospitals. Dion’s had developed a skin care machine, rather like a vacuum, and had a limited product line including cleaner, tonic, mask, and creams called Facial Firm. The company wanted Yvonne to move to Huntington Beach and teach skin care using their products.
But a move to California was not in her plans, so Dion’s suggested she open her own salon and represent their products in Minneapolis. While Yvonne analyzed her options, Bill encouraged her. Whenever she said, “Maybe not,” he would respond, “Why not?” Finally they both asked, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and mortgaged their house to launch Yvonne’s Skin Care Spa. It was the only salon geared exclusively for skin care in the Midwest. She went from managing more than 40 employees to working alone.
She then began working with Minneapolis television programs such as “Tin Cities Today”, “PM Magazine”, and “Good Company”, hosted by Sharon Anderson and Steve Adelman.
“I did everything on those shows, even pedicures,” recalls Yvonne. “More than covering local news, this type of television program wanted to be on the advent of something new.” While skin care in Europe had been in place forever, in 1973 a salon dedicated to skin care in Minnesota was relatively new.
Traveling to California in 1974 for an advanced aesthetics class with Anita of Denmark, Yvonne wondered what she was doing there. Her limited knowledge didn’t fit the term “advanced.” it was then she realized that education would be the key to her success, and she began training with some of the nation’s and the world’s best skin care experts. By 1975 she had studied aesthetics in New York; taught classes for Faial Firm; and taken classes in makeup, advanced aesthetics, massage, and paper wrap for nails --- another first in Minnesota.
After weighing the pros and cons for six months Yvonne moved her salon to Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis. The salon had 12 employees and was known as the Midwest’s first full special services salon. With two rooms in her salon, Yvonne offered all skin care services in the front and massage therapy, steam room and shower, manicuring, and waxing the back. She continued her education in New York, California, Canada, Florida, and Georgia. During that time she met, and was influenced by beauty experts including Robert Diemer, Mark Traynor, and Dr. James Fulton.
As Yvonne’s business continued to grow, she realized there were few educational opportunities in the Midwest for those who wanted to study skin care. By 1980, her salon was revamped again to include a professional training center, called Yvonne’s Esthetic Concepts. Serving only licensed aestheticians and cosmetologists, the training center became known as a post-graduate facility.
Yvonne’s Esthetic Concepts promoted a clinical atmosphere where aestheticians could improve their image, as well as their education. In addition to skin care methods, the courses included intensive study in cosmetic chemistry, promotion, sales, and therapeutic psychology.
“I have so much pride in my profession,” Yvonne says, “and I know that caring for people, clients or peers, brings many rewards. I feel so good to know that I have made a difference in someone’s life.”
Her caring and willingness to share her knowledge is evident through her many professional affiliations. In Minnesota, Yvonne worked diligently with the Department of Commerce to structure aesthetics education fro licensing and the state’s rules and regulations that would govern the license. She motivated the Minnesota Cosmetology Association to expand its educational committee to include an aesthetics sections, and she was appointed the section’s first director.
She was also instrumental in forming the National Cosmetology Association’s EstheticsAmerica and expanding the educational committee, Hair America, to include skin care professionals. The formation of EstheticsAmerica lead to a 15,000 member increase for the NCA, as many other professional skin care associations recognized the value of joining forces. Beyond her local, state, and national memberships, Yvonne is also a member of Aesthetician’s International, Esthetician’s Pharmacology Institute., and the Para Medical Skin Care Association. She has attended conferences around the world, including the CIDESCO International Congress.
Product development has been of special interest to Yvonne since the early ‘80s when she began testing products for Robert Diemer and the American Institute of Esthetics. She also worked with Dr. Fulton to develop products for Clinical Formula, many of which are still being used today. Through her own company, she developed a variety of aloe and Vitamin A hydrating moisture products, and her newest venture is the creation of a line of liposome products called Merod. With her product knowledge, paramedical skin care education, and experiences, Yvonne works with many of Minnesota’s cosmetic surgeons, acting as the on going skin care specialist for recovering patients.
Yvonne’s daughter, Judy, now owns Yvonne’s Esthetic Concepts. But the sale of Y.E.C. did not meant he end of Yvonne Berg. Along with developing products, she remains on the teaching staff at the educational center, now located in Bloomington, Indiana, and gives skin care lectures throughout the country. And once again, she ahs returned to the salon.
“People would not let me quit,” she says laughing. “So a little over two years ago, Loretta Leaf, Denise Ormberg, and I decided to combine our specialties in a smaller salon, and the result is Yvonne Plus Two.”
Many accolades adorn the walls at Yvonne’s Esthetic Concepts and Yvonne Plus Two. The American Institute of Esthetics awarded Yvonne with Clinic of the Year, the Directors Award of Excellence, and Regional Director for 1982, ‘84, and ‘86. She was named Minnesota’s Cosmetologist of the Year in 1986 for leadership in the community and the advancement of the skin care industry, and in 1989 she received Dermascope’s Certificate of Accomplishment.
This September, Yvonne was recognized by the Minnesota Cosmetology Association with its highest award, the Vera Slater Medallion. The medallion is awarded to those who have exhibited the greatest contribution to the success of the industry.
“Education kept me going and growing,” she says. “My respect for others makes me want to share the knowledge I have gained, and my successes are shared with everyone who has shared with me. This award belongs to many people.”