Instructor Spotlight: Darlene Ray, Esthetics Lead Instructor
At Brillare, we’re dedicated to our craft, just like our students. Our staff and instructors lead by example inside and outside the classroom. Darlene Ray, the Eshestics Lead Instructor, has a lifetime of experience under her belt—still, she’s not showing any signs of slowing down.
The Condensed Career Timeline of Brillare’s Nail and Skin Care Extraordinaire
Darlene Ray is no amateur within the esthetician and cosmetology fields. This Chattanooga local has been in the beauty industry for 40 years and counting. After she came, saw, and conquered her hairstyling career, Darlene switched gears to become a nail tech and educator for various cosmetic manufacturers. During a manufacturer’s show, Darlene met a woman named Jan McCormick, who was an expert in the nail and esthetician arena. Jan graciously took Darlene under her wing and taught her everything she knew about nails and skincare.
Soon, Darlene acquired so much knowledge, she was well suited to become a teacher herself. In 2003, Darlene started her first Job at Brillare’s Cleveland, Tennessee location. Darlene educated students on nails and cosmetology for two years until Miller-Motte, a technical and tradeskill college, opened much closer to her home in Chattanooga. Darlene went from Brillare’s Cleveland campus to Miller-Motte, where she served as the program director for esthetics and nails.
Fast-forward to April of 2020, when Miller-Motte’s nail and esthetics programs were shut down due to COVID-19, and Darlene was in search of a new job. Around the same time, Brillare opened its Chattanooga, Tennessee campus. Darlene toured Brillare’s facility and said she “fell in love” with the location. Darlene also loved the vision for the school and shared her colleague’s passion and enthusiasm for the great things that were in store. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Helping Students Have Fun and Keep Their Focus
Since relocating to the Brillare Chattanooga campus, Darlene’s students know her to be quite structured and diligent. She’s mastered the balancing act of grace and fairness, in addition to accountability and discipline. Darlene is serious about her craft, but she also tries to make classes as fun as possible, to keep students informed and engaged. Still focusing on esthetics, Darlene has an affinity for the beginners’ program. She feeds off their excitement and enjoys teaching them the basics. Darlene says she and her students learn something new every day.
Fulfilling Her Purpose On- and Off-Campus
To her students, Darlene is a nail and skin aficionado. But at home, she’s an animal rehabber. She admits, “If I see an animal on the side of the road, I have to help it.” Because of her soft spot for animals, she has a rescue dog, a rescue cat, and she’s even rescued a guinea pig!
Darlene also loves to garden and has grown various herbs, which she uses to her educational advantage. She’s developed an interest in natural skincare and uses the herbs as an enhancement to her routine. Her healing herbs are instrumental in helping revitalize the skin.
Darlene appreciates Brillare’s culture of growth and progression. Our students are accustomed to hard work and professionalism as they earn their certifications. We’re committed to our students from start to finish, and we see potential in all they could be from day one. Darlene believes it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to pursue different positions through Brillare—whether you’re interested in skin or hair, the possibilities are endless.
Another advantage is our two locations. Each campus is conveniently located to provide extra opportunities for people across the region and beyond. Students can network with seasoned professionals and instructors at either campus while learning and connecting with their peers on an interpersonal level. Brillare also encourages them to leverage relationships with program and campus administration, our world-renown affiliates, and so on.
For Darlene, it’s simple: Teaching allows her to contribute to industry improvement. The rewarding career she has at Brillare brings her joy and makes her feel right at home. Darlene holds firm to the idea that you don’t work a day in your life if you enjoy what you do. It’s safe to say after 40 years of having fun, she’s nowhere near done.