GREENWOOD, Ind. --After more than fifty years, Regency Beauty Institute is abruptly shutting its doors, leaving hundreds of central Indiana students in the lurch.
Dozens of teachers are also out of a job.
The school’s website redirects you from any page to a statement explaining the reason for the permanent closure. In short, it says the business simply ran out of money.
They gave multiple reasons for the declining cash reserves, stating, “declining numbers of cosmetology students nationwide, a negative characterization of for-profit education by regulators and politicians that continues to worsen and, in light of these factors, an inability to obtain continued financing” all played a role in the closure.
Seventy-nine campuses in all are affected, including locations in Greenwood, Avon, Castleton, as well as Evansville, Merrillville and South Bend.
Aspiring cosmetologists and their teachers at the Greenwood campus had just hours to pack up their styling tools and products.
“We’ve cried with each other,” said former student Cheyenne Mockobee. “We’ve shed blood, sweat and tears in this place and it feels like it was ripped away from us. And it’s hard.”
Mockobee and her classmates are still in shock that their school is closed.
“I told everybody last night, it feels like we had a death because we went through the shock, we went through the anger, we went through the sadness,” said Mockobee. “We’re all still grieving because this is a huge loss.”
Mockobee was halfway through her cosmetology courses when she found out it may have all been time wasted.
Despite the heartbreaking news, the group is trying to stay positive. It’s a challenge made easier, students say by a selfless staff, steered by their campus manager Ashley Sorrell.
“They’re all here to help us make sure that we’ve got it together and that we’re going where we can,” said Mockobee’s former classmate, Deborah Ryker.
One of their former educators, Dexter Payne, says even though Payne and dozens of other teachers just lost their jobs, meeting them with smiles and positive attitudes came naturally.
“These are like our babies,” said former Regency educator Dexter Payne. “We don’t want to see anything go wrong with them. We want them to finish out their career.”
The students celebrated their bittersweet last meeting together.
Many worried figuring out the next step might be more difficult than finding a school the first time.
“You don’t want to go someplace and end up having it where it’s the same thing happening a couple months down the road,” says Ryker. “It’s like, ‘Oh we’re here, we’ve signed our papers, we’re all good now’ and it’s like, ‘Oh, we’re closing too.’”
About ten minutes away from the Greenwood campus, Empire Beauty School already has former Regency students touring to see if their course is a good fit.
Angela Watson from Empire’s corporate office tells FOX59 that they’re working with the Department of Education and Regency to make “teach out agreements.”
Watson says they’re extremely sympathetic and want to help the students, but aren’t sure what the final result will look like.
Tricoci University of Beauty Culture has also reached out to FOX59 saying they’re working to determine how they might help students finish their educations. They have locations in Indianapolis and Bloomington and are already encouraging Regency students to apply to attend Tricoci, with scholarships possible.
Regency’s website says they plant to post a list of schools eager to accept Regency students on October 3 when they make transcripts available. Students say they’re not sure whether the schools will just take them or take their credits too.
Mockobee says in the meantime, they’ll lean on each other and wait.
“We all lean on each other,” says Mockobee. “We have relied on each other, we’ve spent 40 hours a week together, so what else can we do. When I say that we’re a family, it’s not just a façade. We argue like sisters, but we also come together like sisters.”