PHOENIX -- Work stations are now idle. Shelves once lined with hair products are empty, all because the Brillare Hairdressing Academy went out of business, leaving dozens of students who paid their tuition in advance out of money and out of hope.
A promotional video found on YouTube shows a lot of energetic and excited students from Brillare.
Dianna Navarrete attended Brillare."We had fashion shows," she says. "We had a lot of products; people would come and promote their products."
But now all that excitement, they say, is gone. "You knew that house of cards was going to come tumbling down eventually," says Julie Nichols.
Students say signs of problems at Brillare slowly started to surface. "Our credit card machines did not work for the last three months so everything had to be paid in cash."
And suspicion continued, as academy students say phone lines were briefly disconnected. Then one day the electricity was unexpectedly shut off while clients were seated in chairs. Dianna recalled: “We were doing it with our flashlights on our iPhones and we were trying to finish the clients' hair that way."
And now the academy that showed so much energy is no more. Work stations are now idle. Shelves once lined with hair products are empty, all because the Brillare Hairdressing Academy went out of business leaving dozens of students who paid their tuition in advance, out of money and out of hope.
3 On Your Side obtained cell phone video from a recent meeting announcing Brillare was closing. Upset students were told that a competitor, another school, had agreed to accept the students to finish their degrees at no additional cost. But students say that just wasn't true, because the other school wants money too. Dianna says she can’t afford to pay anyone anymore. "$19,000 for Brillare and a little, about $3,200, to finish over at the new school."
Students say they're out big for supplies they bought, but never got because the school shut down. "I paid $3,200 for a kit I never got," one student tells us.
So, how can a school like Brillare Hair Academy take tuition money up front and then close down? 3 On Your Side got hold of the school's CEO, Christa Jones. She never explained why she shut down the school, but in an email explains: "We can understand the frustration of those affected by the closing of Brillare." She goes on to say: "Our sense of responsibility made sure no student lost money with Brillare."
But students maintain that's just not true. They say they paid to earn a degree and then never received one. However, further digging reveals Christa Jones is in a financial crisis of her own. Documents show she recently filed for bankruptcy, but Christa Jones claims that had nothing to do with the closing of Brillare. Still, students who are out money and a degree wonder. Julie Nichols added: "I love doing hair. And I couldn't wait, it's just been a nightmare."
There has been some progress, because 3 On Your Side has learned a few students were able to transfer to a competing school without having to pay out more money. However, some students say they have not been as lucky and have been asked to pay up for their remaining classes.