A new Tennessee cosmetology law is good for beauty and good for business.
In fact it could boost the Mid-South economy.
The cosmetology board will now be able to create natural hair care schools after a Memphis lawmaker pushed the idea because the current law was too vague.
Natural hair means you don't use perms, or other chemicals to straighten or change the structure of your hair. It's a growing trend, particularly in the African American community.
MORE: Tennessee natural hair bill passes: http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/video?clipId=8825949&autostart=true
The law revamps Tennessee's cosmetology program to help provide a competitive edge. Students who want to pursue cosmetology may spend fewer dollars and enter the workforce more quickly. It's a much needed shape-up for a state which hopes to get ahead of a booming industry.
MORE: Natural hair and upward mobility in your job
Off Austin Peay Highway, inside Tangles Salon Anya Parker weaves her daughter's natural hair like a seamstress. Ten years ago, Parker received her certificate from a Tennessee cosmetology school.
"I learned how to do natural hair on my own 'cause I went to cosmetology school but they really didn't teach us how to do natural hair," she said. "So I kind of picked up watching videos, learning off other stylists."
Now, she handles about 200 natural hair customers a month. Within a couple years, Parker dreams of opening up a natural hair care school.
"I know a few people that have wanted to open up natural hair care schools and because there wasn't any laws for hair, they got discouraged," she said.
State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) sponsored a bill to allow the cosmetology board to create natural hair care schools. House Bill 39 passed unanimously and is now a law which will help provide technicians with necessary job skills, including more on-the-job training and optional tracks.
"People are looking for opportunities, and it's not always the four-year college," Rep. Parkinson said. "There's a lot of individuals doing hair in the kitchen right now. We want those individuals, if this is where your talent lies we want this legislation and this new law to be able to assist you.
"It also opens up the ability to create natural hair care schools, schools of esthetics and manicuring schools, as well as stand-alone entities, versus going through the cosmetology program; the whole cosmetology program to be licensed in these areas," he added.
The law helps speed up the certification process and offers mentors, Rep. Parkinson said. The law allows those who take the 1,500-hour full cosmetology program to receive half of their credits through an apprenticeship.
Tangles Salon owner Carlos Rodgers says some schools trim important tools, like building cliental and workforce preparation.
"If you invest time in a person you don't want to see them learn what you taught them just walk away," Rodgers said. "So I'm very much for the apprenticeship program. Once I got into a salon there are a lot of things I couldn't have learned in school. So in some ways it's like I had to start all over again with another class. Now you're dealing with people who are actually your clients and that's a bad time to learn on somebody's head."
Rep. Parkinson says trained natural hair stylists could help the Memphis secure big time dollars through hair conventions, like Atlanta's Bronner Brother's Convention. He says Memphis could draw thousands of stylists who want to finesse their trade.
"I remember when the Bronner Brothers themselves that do this convention used to deliver their product to my mother's beauty salon," Rep. Parkinson said. "Now they're drawing 60,000-90,000 stylists and salon owners to Georgia for the largest trade show twice a year. It's a huge economic impact."
Parker says a natural hair group held a local convention last year, yielding a few thousand people. She says the law could help this process naturally grow.
"I think it'll be affirmation that it's possible now and that I can go forth and go ahead and do it," she said.
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