Small Business

Crave Beauty Academy owner started as student and grew into leader

As a student at Xenon International Academy, Kim McIntosh never imagined she’d one day own the business, which she renamed Crave Beauty Academy late last year.
As a student at Xenon International Academy, Kim McIntosh never imagined she’d one day own the business, which she renamed Crave Beauty Academy late last year. The Wichita Eagle

When Kim McIntosh was a student in Xenon International Academy’s fifth graduating class in 1988, she didn’t have aspirations to one day own the company.

“I knew I liked the business aspect of the beauty industry,” she said. “I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit.”

She grew from a beauty school student to overseeing campuses within the academy.

McIntosh said founder Bob Peel Jr. “treated me so well, and he allowed me really to take ownership of the school. … There was no reason for me to leave and open my own school or salon.”

In 2013, McIntosh and her husband, Stan, bought Xenon’s Wichita and St. Louis campuses, and then renamed the business Crave Beauty Academy late last year.

“It’s been great,” she said. “Wow. It’s been a learning curve.”

McIntosh said that “honestly, I’ve never acquired a multimillion business. You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Peel, who used to have Peel’s Salon Services, started Xenon with platform artist Peter Franelli in 1986 and named the business for the name Franelli used on stage when giving beauty demonstrations.

The business grew to more than a dozen stores in 11 states.

“I have been with Xenon for over 20 years and was actually partners in three of our six campuses,” McIntosh said.

She said she carefully considered the decision to change the name of the business.

“I know it probably goes against best practices.”

McIntosh said in recent years, she realized that students didn’t know who Xenon was and couldn’t pronounce or spell the name.

“We were ready for some fresh energy and kind of a renewed commitment and some fresh changes that would move us forward,” she said.

With the new ownership, she said she had to wade through a lot of compliance issues.

“That’s 100 percent past us now,” McIntosh said. “We can focus on growing the business now.”

The Wichita campus is in 15,000 square feet near Douglas and West Street.

In addition to classrooms, the campus has a student salon and retail areas.

Services include such things as facials, microdermabrasion, light therapy, cellulite treatments, sunless tanning, makeup and nail care.

“We pretty much offer everything that a salon can offer,” McIntosh said. Customers “may sacrifice time because students are a little slower, but they do a good job.”

St. Louis has a similar campus but, at almost 19,000 square feet, it’s larger.

Wichita is the main campus with typically 125 students in a year. The St. Louis campus, which opened in 2007 in Ballwin, Mo., has about 75 a year.

McIntosh said she wants to expand both campuses. First, she said she plans to remodel the Wichita campus and then eventually move it.

“You know, we’re in an older area of Wichita, but it is centrally located,” McIntosh said. “We do need to have easy access for our students from all over Wichita.”

McIntosh opened the first Salon Crave at 119th and Maple in December and said she wants three salons in Wichita and one in St. Louis within the next couple of years.

She said serving the community, such as working with disadvantaged women, is a big part of Crave’s mission as well.

“Almost every month we have some type of event … promoting community involvement and giving back. That’s really important to me.”

McIntosh said students, and “helping them every way we can to be successful,” are her top priorities.

“We really treat the business as a family. I strongly feel that we’re only as good as the people inside the building. We’re lucky enough to have a talented team at both locations.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

Tier I

Name of Business: Crave Beauty Academy

Year Founded: 1986

Owners: Kim and Stan McIntosh

Address: 3804 W. Douglas

Phone number: 316-943-5516