50 Years of Creating Careers – A Family Success Story

marylee powell samantha nolte and linda loie and dianaDifferent generations, but a shared passion for beauty and helping people look their best. Mary Lee Powell and Samantha Nolte are not only grandmother and granddaughter; they are also both graduates of Capri College Cosmetology Program in Dubuque, where they both learned to Do What They LOVE!  This is the motto of Capri College’s four locations, led by two generations of the Fiegen family.

It took Sammy Nolte a little longer to recognize her dream, but Mary Lee Droessler Powell knew from her youth that Beauty was her passion in life. She had always experimented on hair styles and makeup, so when her cousin, Linda Droessler Schwinn, then the Director of Admissions at Dubuque Capri College, suggested the June Junior Cosmetology program at Capri, she jumped at the chance. Starting her Cosmetology education the summer after her junior year at Wahlert High School, Mary Lee continued her training during her senior year in high school.  Upon her high school graduation, she returned to Capri to complete her training and earn her Cosmetology diploma.

11 maryleeGraduating from Capri College in January 1973, she worked at two salons before receiving a phone call from Chuck Fiegen, the owner and founder of Capri College, asking her return to Capri as the Clinic Floor Supervisor.  “Passion for what you do is the most important goal in choosing your life’s work.  When I first started cosmetology, it was the ‘70s and hair was wrapped in rollers and dried under hair dryers. Up dos were the most popular styles, with the Beehive leading! The Nova, Farrah Fawcett and Dorothy Hamill each took turns as popular styles, and permanents were absolutely necessary. I wrapped perms in 15 minutes!” Mary Lee laughed.

“Chuck Fiegen and the Capri instructors were outstanding. I wrote him a letter thanking him for creating such a great school that had allowed me to go into a successful career doing what I truly loved. By the age of 24, I was able to own my own salon, ‘Country Charm Beauty Salon’ in Dickeyville, Wisconsin, and I hired a talented staff of stylists.”  She ran the shop up until 14 years ago, and then worked out of her home until three years ago. In all, she has been doing hair for 40 years! “In what other career could you do what you love for 40 years and then turn it into a part -time hobby that actually makes money and brings into your life clients who turn into friends? You make such good friends in this industry and they give so much back to you. I can’t imagine any other career that is so fulfilling!”

“Talking with people and trying to help them; that was the biggest interest I had when I was looking at career paths in my senior year in high school. “ Nolte added. “ I had also always liked doing hair and working with makeup, and as a kid, I would work at Mary Lee’s salon, sweeping up  hair, so I was always around cosmetologists and the Beauty industry. And, when I took a career interest survey in school, cosmetology came out as the top career for me!

I decided to try studying criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin, but when I started classes, I found them boring and not what I had expected. The classes were long and dull! I talked to Mary Lee and decided that as a cosmetologist, not only would I be able to meet and talk with people, but I could also use my creative side in hair and makeup, and help people feel good about them.  It was the perfect solution! And the program only took 16 months!” Sammy wasted no time.

sam nolte “I absolutely loved Capri,” Sammy said. “I loved hair color, cutting hair, extensions, makeup, nails- everything that went into the career. In addition, I enjoyed the business classes that prepared me to rent a chair and start running my own business. I loved going to class and learning not only the book information, but also the hands-on classes and the Clinic work that sharpened my skills. “The amazing thing about my career,” said Nolte, “is that Cosmetology brought together everything I was passionate about into one exciting career! I was fulfilling my passion for everything that was important to me.”

Thinking back on her college days, Nolte added,   “One of the things the other students and I loved when we were on the Clinic Floor was watching Mr. Fiegen when he would cut a client’s hair. I  learned so much just watching the fast, effortless way he cut.”  An independent young woman, Sammy wanted to be able to run her business her way, especially in creating interesting colors in hair that her clients loved. “She’s the Queen of Color! “ Mary Lee said, smiling.

Graduated from Capri College in 2014, at age 20, Sammy began work five days later at University Cut & Style, where she rented a chair and immediately started putting her newly learned business and creative skills to use.  By that summer, with her Capri background and help from Linda Field, the owner of her salon, she knew how to run a business. “It takes passion for what you love, along with dedication and hard work,” Nolte said.  “I love the challenge and creativity, meeting all sorts of interesting people and talking over their problems with them.”

A few weeks shy of her 23rd birthday, Sammy says she has everything she wants. She does her own taxes and helps cosmetology friends with answers about their taxes. “I’m independent, doing what I love and I’m happy,” Sammy said.

It’s all about passion and family!  Two women, following the careers they love, fulfilled and happy. Their school- Capri College, a family-owned and run business that understands the importance of  a solid education, combined with the passion of Doing What You LOVE! 50 years of Creating Careers!


Capri Student Wins Again!

kelsey IBSY 2015 contest winner
Capri College is proud to announce that Kelsey Simeons, recent Capri College, Cedar Rapids, graduate was the recipient of the
2015 Nuts and Bolts International Business Student of the Year Award.

Each year, thousands of students from hundreds of schools across North America and Australia enter this competition. As a first place winner of this competition, Kelsey walks away with over $3000 in cash and prizes, in addition to a paid trip to the International Salon and Spa convention in Long Beach.

IBSY 2015 winners jim chuck matt chris Competition is sponsored by Nuts and Bolts Business Training Company, provider of education and training materials for students and salon professionals.  Capri College includes this training as part of their curriculum. This year was the 8th annual N&B IBSY competition. In the past five years, Capri College students have taken two first place awards, one second, one third, and two top ten awards.

kelsey IBSY est winner familyPast winner and Capri College Graduate, Nikki Hynek, a professional makeup artist, went on to invent and patent a unique makeup case (Dollup Case, www.dollupbeauty.com) and most recently a makeup line.  She has become very successful in her venture and her products are now carried in Von Maur department stores and through Alcone Corp.


50 Years of Creating Careers!


Capri50th_HOR_SCOTT-PRINTINGFebruary, 1966; Chuck Fiegen and Ed Bisenius purchase Mr. Terry’s Beauty Academy in Dubuque, Iowa Capri Cosmetology College is decided as a name and a new legacy had begun.

This year we celebrate Capri’s 50th (Golden) Anniversary as Capri College continues to set the Gold Standard for excellence in beauty and wellness education!

Chuck Fiegen and his exceptional staff have devoted their lives to bringing “educational gold” to their students. Our courses are designed to be contemporary, relevant, and forward thinking, and our philosophy of putting students first is demonstrated in many ways. Capri students are offered a solid basic education before transitioning to our practical training.  They also learn advanced techniques and specialized business skills throughout their training.  Opportunities to become involved in our community round out the Capri experience. We reach out to help those in need or make someone’s day better with fund raisers, service trips to nursing homes, donations to shelters, food-drives, toy-drives, and Random Acts of Kindness. Exposed while they are students to helping others in need, Capri graduates carry on that tradition within their own communities after graduation.

OLD THEORY PIC (2)The cornerstone of Capri’s educational excellence is our team of instructors who are chosen not only for their expertise, but also for their passion and ability to ‘coach’ students to great success! The desire to develop successful graduates is paramount among the instructing staff. Capri has created a family atmosphere where we are all dedicated to the same goal.

To hone their skills, Cosmetology students are encouraged to compete in local, state and national competitions, just like Mr. Fiegen did in his early years. As a result, many students have received awards with national and state recognition, which helps to build their resumes and confidence.

Being leaders in the industry has always has been one of our goals.  Whether it is pioneering educational media back in the sixties and seventies, or iPads included in student equipment today, technology that enhances our offerings, Capri is always on the “cutting edge”.  Our “Nuts & Bolts” business program, adopted years ago by Fiegen and his staff, added outstanding preparation for the business side of the industry.

Friday, February 19th, in honor of our 50 years, the students and staff at each of our 4 Iowa locations – Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, & Waterloo went out into their communities to perform 200 Random Acts Of Kindness! We hope these acts fill our students with pride & fill the community with joy!

Come join us on April 2, 2016 for our 50th Anniversary Celebration! We will be offering FREE Continuing Education for Cosmetology, Esthetics, & Massage Therapy in the afternoon. An Open House from 5-7pm will feature food, drinks, and tours of our beautifully updated Dubuque facility. We will cap off the evening with a graduates only reunion party at the Diamond Jo Casino from 7-11pm where there will be food, drinks, dancing, nostalgia, prizes, and lots of good friends.

DIANA BONIFAS, 40 Years of Beauty


As a young girl, from the first time she back combed and braided a cow’s tail, Diana knew she had found her passion and her life’s work! Graduating from styling her favorite cow to styling her mother’s hair when her Mom first missed a hair appointment, Diana decided that she was destined to go into the World of Beauty.

diana (1)Diana Berthel Bonifas, Director of Capri College Student Salon & Spa, hits a beautiful milestone of 40 years as an educator and outstanding team member at  Capri College.  For 40 years Diana has supervised and guided the work of aspiring Cosmetologists at Capri.  She has taught and touched the lives of hundreds of cosmetology students and countless Capri customers.  Diana also shares her knowledge and her talent through the Continuing Education programs for cosmetology licensees where she demonstrates the latest in hair and fashion trends. During her ‘free time,’ Diana is involved with her church and community in LaMotte.  She gives generously of her other creative talents by playing piano and singing for a multitude of funerals, weddings, anniversaries, and various nursing home events.  For 40 years, Diana’s laughter, passion for people and positive attitude is proof she is truly “Doing what she Loves”.

After graduation, Diana was drawn to Cosmetology and began studying the program that would ultimately become her life’s vocation.  She was fascinated by the way different hairstyles were created and how a change in makeup and hairstyle could completely transform someone.   Diana decided to enter the instructor’s program after Capri graduation and rose rapidly in the management ranks of Capri.   Her passion for hair and her boundless energy she quickly impressed not only the students she taught, but also the staff and guests of Capri College. To add to her credibility and maintain her high level styling skill, in addition to teaching, Diana has simultaneously worked as a stylist, first at the ‘Silver Comb’ in Zwingle, Iowa and ultimately opening her own salon.

diana108 (1)Her Capri career path began as a Cosmetology instructor at Capri College in Dubuque, quickly followed by being named the Dubuque Cosmetology Curriculum Director. Her path shifted a bit when Diana moved to Cedar Rapids to teach at a new Capri College campus.  After leaving her mark in the Cedar Rapids Cosmetology community, Diana returned to Dubuque where she continued her upward climb as a leader, being appointed school director of a small Capri branch then appointed as Director of Admissions at Dubuque Capri in June 1985, where she enthusiastically enrolled students and introduced them to the joys of a career in Beauty!   March 1991 brought another upward move as Diana was named the Clinic Director for the Dubuque Capri location, a position she still holds today. At the same time Diana still owns her own salon in LaMotte, ‘Sunset Styling,” where she works after leaving Capri. She said she “likes to keep her hands in!”

Along the years in her Capri career, Diana’s accomplishments included taking First Place in the 1985 Iowa Cup Haircutting Competition for the National Hair Dressers and Cosmetology Association in Des Moines; studying with top national and international stylists, such as Trevor Sorbie, “Zenon” and Wayne Grund in Canada; along with multiple visits to the International Hair Show in New York and annually shepherding Capri students to the Chicago Midwest Beauty Show.  Diana had the opportunity to travel with the Capri Fashion Merchandising and Cosmetology students to London, England and Paris, France in the early ‘90s, and assisted in touring the cosmetology students through selected salons. She trains the newly hired cosmetology instructors on clinical supervision, and visits all the other Capri College locations to share her expertise and enthusiasm with their staffs.

diana105 (1)Her whole- hearted enthusiasm and complete passion for the Beauty industry has inspired hundreds of students and every staff member at Capri. One of the students she inspired from childhood on is her daughter, Kristen Bonifas, who studied cosmetology at Capri before attending Iowa State University to major in chemical engineering. Kristen’s love for Cosmetology has kept her active in a variety of cosmetology careers, as her engineering career has moved her from Ohio to Pennsylvania to Alabama. As Diana mentioned, one of the huge benefits of cosmetology is that the career can move with you. Having worked as a cosmetologist in each of her adopted states, even while she is a full time engineer, Kristen is also currently an editorial photographer for Cosmetology, working out of her home in her ‘free time!’

Lois Leytem, the Director of Dubuque Capri College, said that Diana is ‘passion personified’ in her love of the beauty industry! She said that in every annual student evaluation of cosmetology instructors, Diana Bonifas has hands- down received the highest evaluation.   Evaluations range from students stating that initially they were a little intimidated by Diana, because of the exacting standards she has for their craft. But by the time they had been on the Clinic Floor under her wing, she had become their favorite instructor! Chuck Fiegen, CEO and owner of the Capri Colleges, said, “Diana has the world’s best smile and the greatest level of energy I have ever seen!  Capri students, staff and guests have been blessed to have had Diana in our lives for the last forty years!”

Comments on Diana range from graduate Monica Brehm’s stating that “Diana has taught her so manydiana111 things, not only hair related, but also lessons she will use the rest of her life;” to graduate Shelby Weber’s congratulating Diana on her “amazing forty year milestone,” and thanking her for her guidance; to graduate Marlena Cady’s description of Diana as a’ little Fireball!’ Marlena said she was ‘afraid of Diana’ when she first started on the Clinic Floor, but ended up loving going to her for advice and inspiration! Lois Leytem described Diana’s life code of “Work hard, Play Harder” as typical of her zeal about her career and her untiring work ethic and ability to have fun. Her strong principles and high ideals brought to the workplace encourage kindness, honesty and high performance, and inspire both staff and students to emulate her. She is looked up to professionally by all the staff and admired, but above all else, when she is with the staff socially, she is the “Life of the Party!” Her decorative and highly useful “drinking glove’, appears with her at parties, and she has presented gloves to many friends. I am proud to say that I have a Diana Bonifas drinking glove, which I treasure, just as I treasure her friendship and her totally optimistic outlook on life!

Not only is she a poised professional in the world of Beauty and Fashion, Diana consistently maintains the image by looking the part. Always beautifully dressed, perfectly coiffed and made up, lips perfectly lined and ever-present lipstick that she is famous for.  You can easily find her on the Capri Clinic Floor by following the laughter she inspires – and the love!

Happy 40th Anniversary Diana! I am so proud to call you my friend!

Gretchen Breitbach, Capri College Massage Therapy Graduate

The SEARCH for SUCCESS: Do What You Love!

Success is finding the path meant for you that allows you to live life to the fullest, successfully combining your personal life with a career that is rewarding on every level. Sound pretty hard to achieve?

That was what Gretchen Breitbach thought at the end of her freshman year at Iowa State University. With an interest in learning more about volcanoes, she had decided to major in geology, but, as she attended her classes, she felt something was missing. The excitement she had expected wasn’t there.  She decided to take the summer off and re-evaluate her future. That summer, she spoke with a cousin in Utah who had begun studying at a massage therapy college.  Her cousin loved the program and urged Gretchen to look into it. Thinking it would be a good means to an end by providing her with a career that could supplement her financially when she returned to Iowa State, she decided to apply to Dubuque Capri College and take the Massage Therapy program. It was a short program and when she got her license, she could work as a Massage Therapist while continuing her education. She enrolled and started class that fall.

gretchen1 (1)
Gretchen Breitbach, Capri College Massage Therapy Graduate

Then everything changed for her! As she studied Anatomy & Physiology, Kinesiology and hands- on techniques, she discovered the holistic healing powers of Massage Therapy. It opened her eyes and she saw something she had never seen before. She learned that through her interaction with people, by helping to heal with her touch, she also healed herself! The combination of her book studies, along with massage and energy work, allowed an all- over connection to the client and showed her what was truly valuable to her in life.  She discovered that working with the human body as a tool toward healing helped her to feel fulfilled. “Some people just need to be touched and felt cared for,” Gretchen said. “Massage Therapy allows the therapist to be connected to the client.” She discovered that she felt called to this career path.  Massage Therapy changed her life. It helped her to assist in healing and allowed her to find out what was truly important to her in life. It inspired her to interact with other people and guided her in finding out who she was, and finally placed her on the career path meant for her.

Her clients feel relaxed and happy after she has given them a healing massage, and she loves going to work! Her career has allowed her the flexibility to take the time to enjoy life and spend time with her young sons, while continuing more in-depth studies in the field she loves. After her 2002 Capri graduation, she went to work for chiropractor, Dr. Mary Belmont, as a Massage Therapist, and eventually also added massage work in the salon, Open Impressions. In the fall of 2003, she began studying at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), while continuing to hold both jobs! She took a year off from college after NICC graduation, and then the next year she started at the University of Dubuque, where she majored in Biology, and was graduated from in 2005 with a Bachelor’s Degree. She added a year of Massage Therapy work at the Captain Merry Salon in East Dubuque, Illinois, then deciding that she wanted the freedom of her own practice; she rented a Massage Therapy space at Salon 150 in East Dubuque, Illinois, where she continues today. Wanting to add to her knowledge in Massage Therapy, she studied Reiki, during her free time, which aided her in ‘grounding’ herself as she worked to remove pain from her clients, but needed to avoid taking it onto herself.  Continuing on later, she studied with a Reiki Master, who inspired her and helped her to move to a higher level of healing. She learned understanding and awareness that helped both in her Massage Therapy practice and in life. Her plans for the future include possibly teaching Anatomy & Physiology in addition to her personal Massage Therapy practice. She loves going to Continuing Education classes for Massage Therapy, and she is interested in learning more about Guided Imagery for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Myofascial massage and medical massage. ”There is so much to do in life,” she stated, “and my education in Massage Therapy has allowed me to do many things. My career in Massage Therapy has helped me to grow as a body worker and as a person and has taught me to take the time to learn and experience life.”

“Deciding to go to Capri College completely changed my life,” said Gretchen. “I wasn’t on the right career track. The Capri program in Massage Therapy corrected my career track and changed my life. It opened my eyes to see something I hadn’t seen before. It helped me to become the best person I could be, and gave me the ability to focus on what is important. There is so much to life, and with Massage Therapy, I can have a career I love and still have the time to live life fully!  I recommend Capri College whole heartedly. Capri’s motto, “Do What You LOVE!” is the perfect guidepost to a fulfilling life!”

Gretchen works three days a week and alternate Saturdays at Salon 150 in East Dubuque, Illinois, where she shares her expertise with her clients.

Her advice to students unsure of the career they should study, is to “Do What You LOVE!”

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