This is the second story in a series on skilled trades.
When people think about skilled trades, construction work and factory jobs come to mind. But cosmetology is another universal, much-needed trade that employs more than 600,000 people in the U.S.
“Corporate jobs are good, but if that corporate job lays you off, everyone should have something they can fall back on, a hobby, a skill,” said Corinthian Carouthers, owner and founder of Creative Hair School of Cosmetology in Flint. “Beauty will never go out of business. Everyone needs their hair done.”
This beauty college offers four programs — cosmetology, natural hair, esthetics (makeup, facials, tanning, etc), and manicuring. This family run business has five instructors, and the program runs Tuesday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Carouthers even employs her son and daughter.
To study at Creative Hair, you have be at least 17 and have a high school diploma or a GED.
In the hair program, students learn styling, dyeing, braiding and more. In the esthetician program, students learn makeup, waxing, facials, how to do eyebrows, tanning and more. An individual who has completed the natural hair program, passed the state board exam and is licensed through the state is a Natural Hair Culturist.
Manicures and pedicures are taught in the nail program, which includes acrylics, learning how to apply nail tips, and more. These three programs are four months long and each cost $3,600.
The full-time cosmetology school is one year and tuition costs $14,700. The part-time school is 14 months. This school goes into each subcategory — natural hair, esthetics and manicuring, but not as deep as the specialized programs.
All programs follow guidelines set by the Department of Education and the State of Michigan Board of Cosmetology.
They regularly bring in guest speakers who are experts in their field, from stylists to manicurists and more.
Students learn anatomy of hair and nails, and basic chemistry for how hair products work, how to mix dyes and use bleach. They also learn about skin diseases, as well as life skills, such as communication.
To apply to Creative Hair, you have to register and go to the school to apply. Prospective students go through an interview and write an essay on why they want to attend the cosmetology program.
“We don’t want people to start and stop. We want to make sure they’re serious,” Carouthers said.
After they’re approved, they’re sent to the financial aid office where they figure out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) options.
“Once you graduate, you have to go to the state board to take a test and get your license,” she said. At the test, students may be asked to style hair, do a cut, a manicure, makeup, anything they learned in school.
Carouthers created the college in October 1999. “I used to get my hair done and I got so tired of the inconsistency,” she said. “My daughter wanted to get her hair done and instead of paying the money, I decided to go to school.”
Once she graduated from cosmetology school, she got licensed to become an instructor and opened the beauty institution. When asked about misconceptions, Carouthers said she hears, “it’s just hair.”
“You can make $100,000 per year depending on your professionalism and attitude. It’s been downplayed because everyone is trying to do hair without a license,” she said.
Carouthers recommends making sure your hairstylist or manicurist is licensed through the state.
Lisa Kildow, owner of Hair Play Salon in Fenton, has been a licensed cosmetologist for 30 years. She went to school at David Pressley in Royal Oak, and learned everything.
“Thirty years ago, they gave us so much more than they do now. They don’t spend as much time on nails or esthetician because they can specialize now,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to be able to specialize in one thing.”
Kildow ensures all of her stylists are licensed through the state. She’s also taken on apprentices who study under her. They still have to follow state guidelines and record the number of hours worked. It’s a two-year program under any cosmetologist. You have to have 10 years of experience to take on an apprentice.
“You need to know the basics before you get into the real world. It makes us professional,” she said. “I think it’s so important that they don’t just go to school. They should continue their education with all the classes that are offered.”
Cailin Elliott, cosmetologist at Salon 416 in Fenton, attended Douglas J Aveda Institute in East Lansing.
“They really get you prepared for state boards, which is a huge deal because if you don’t pass that, you can’t get your license,” she said. “I felt like I was really prepared.”
Elliott said there are people who don’t fully understand what’s taught at cosmetology school.
“We definitely go really deep into anatomy, and we have a ton of tests to make sure we really know what’s going on not only with your hair, but your skin and everything involved,” she said.
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