Where are they now? 2000 Barrett grad Erika “Rikki” Kusy founder of international company and member of Sun Devil 100 Class of 2021
Erika “Rikki” Kusy is among 12 alumni of Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University named to the ASU Sun Devil 100 Class of 2021.
The Sun Devil 100, presented by the ASU Alumni Association, recognizes the top 100 fastest-growing alumni-owned or –led organizations.
The Class of 2021 features 100 organizations represented by 133 ASU alumni. Companies range from individually-owned businesses to large corporations from over two dozen industries, including architecture, construction, education, food and beverage, legal, nonprofit, technology and transportation. The organizations that make up this year’s class have combined total revenues of $6.67 billion for the last year, employ more than 8,400 people and have locations in 11 states.
Kusy, who received a bachelor’s degree in education in 2000, founded DermaplanePro, Inc. in 2010. She is CEO of the international company that provides certification courses in dermaplaning, along with treatment products, tools, supplies and support to professionals in the beauty industry. The company has 46 trainers in the U.S. and six international distributors.
We caught up with Kusy to get her thoughts on making the 2021 Sun Devil 100 list, how ASU and Barrett, The Honors College influenced her, and advice for current honors students. Here’s what she had to say.
How do you feel about being selected for the 2021 Sun Devil 100 list? How significant is this designation?
It’s a great honor to be selected for the Sun Devil 100 and I’m so happy to make the list. If someone told me I was going to make this list when I was a student, I wouldn’t have believed them. I think recognition for one’s accomplishments is one of the greatest rewards for all of the time, dedication, risk and fortitude it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.
Sun Devil 100 recognizes alums for their entrepreneurial spirit, the growth of alumni-owned or alumni-run businesses, and the contributions those alums and businesses make to the community. How do you think you and your business meet this criteria?
DermaplanePro serves a global community of skincare professionals. There was a strong need in our field for a company to provide this level of education and support and I was able to answer that call just by starting with my own network of industry professionals, listening to them, meeting their needs and growing from there.
We hire entrepreneurs to train for us across the U.S. and bring in distributors internationally who share our passion and we help them build their businesses as they help me grow the company.
How did you decide to attend ASU and Barrett, The Honors College?
My parents first met while attending ASU and are both graduates (Class of 1961). Being raised in a military family with grandparents living in Phoenix, we always thought of Phoenix as home.
When I decided to finish my degree, ASU was my first choice. Once I was enrolled and had achieved a level of academic success, I was invited to join Barrett, The Honors College.
I was really enjoying my experience at ASU so decided to take it to the next level. Knowing I would have mentors was really important to me. I knew if I had mentors I would be far more successful in my undergrad.
How did being an honors student enhance your undergraduate experience? Was being an honors student beneficial?
The Honors College was a game-changer for my undergrad. By being a member of the Honors College I was able to really shine as a leader as I honed my leadership skills. It gave me the opportunity to work closely and mentor with several professors and members of faculty which made a significant difference in my success as a student and later as a professional.
The Honor’s College student lounge was a huge bonus with work space, printers and copiers available to us. I was able to finish projects so much faster and get more done in less time. These are probably standard now but in 1999 technology wasn’t nearly as advanced.
What is a favorite recollection of your years at ASU and the honors college?
Being invited to speak at a teaching conference in San Antonio, Texas. I traveled with two of my professors to attend the conference and speak to teachers working in the field. It was a great honor and experience.
How did your experience at ASU and the honors college help you get to where you are now?
The Honors College helped me learn how to create comprehensive learning modules that appeal to all learning styles, are discovery-based, experiential, allow the student to achieve success along the way, are interactive and fun. This is the basis for my success with our Certification Courses, so much so that we are CE providers for several state boards.
I also had the experience of preparing a presentation and speaking in front of an audience of professionals who were above my peer level since they were working professionals and I was still a student.
Leadership was modeled for me as I worked with my mentors. Leadership is an important part of running a company. Being a good leader makes the difference between success and failure. I enjoy my role as a leader and am proud that we are a company that people want to work for.
If you were to give advice to a current Barrett student, what would you tell them?
I would advise them to fully commit to the work and mentors that are there for you. Barrett, The Honors College provides mentors to help you achieve successes that will last far beyond graduation.
Find a mentor or two and really learn from them, ask them questions about their experience and what that would look like in today’s world. Stay in touch after graduation and let them know how you’re doing. Your success is their success too and they want to know the positive impact you’ve made based on what they taught you.