Natural Hair Academy Opening In Kings Mountain

Yolanda Harris, owner and instructor, and daughter Michelle Hopper pose at Free 2 B Natural Hair Academy on Dilling Street in Kings Mountain, N.C., Friday, July 15, 2022. The natural hair school will be opening this fall and is the first of its kind in Cleveland County. “Students will be learning how to operate a full service salon,” Harris said. “This teaches them to open their own business or rent a booth or suite.” (Mike Hensdill/The Star via AP)
Yolanda Harris, owner and instructor, and daughter Michelle Hopper pose at Free 2 B Natural Hair Academy on Dilling Street in Kings Mountain, N.C., Friday, July 15, 2022. The natural hair school will be opening this fall and is the first of its kind in Cleveland County. “Students will be learning how to operate a full service salon,” Harris said. “This teaches them to open their own business or rent a booth or suite.” (Mike Hensdill/The Star via AP)
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KINGS MOUNTAIN, N.C. (AP) — A natural hair school will be opening in Kings Mountain and is the first of its kind in Cleveland County.

Free 2 B Natural Hair Academy will welcome new students this fall.

Yolanda Harris, owner and instructor, said the family-run business is the only school of its kind in the county.

“We’re excited to be the trailblazers,” she said.

She said although the community college has a cosmetology program, it doesn’t touch on natural hair care in great length.

“Students want to know more about the natural hair field,” she said.

The 2,000-square-foot building is painted a crisp white, and Harris said a Charlotte team completed the renovations and design.

The motto inscribed beneath the name of the business on the outside of the buildings reads, “not a hairstyle, but a lifestyle.”

The academy offers the opportunity to gain professional training and teaching that leads to licensure.

Harris has been a natural hair stylist for 15 years and owns her own salon in Kings Mountain.

She said she has a passion for people wanting to embrace their naturally textured hair without altering their natural curl pattern with chemicals.

No perms, dye or chemicals are used. Students learn first and foremost infection control, sanitation, sterilization of equipment and blood exposure.

“Before they can see clients, they have to go through that process,” Harris said.

The 16-week program is equal to 300 clocked hours. Once they graduate, students will take a state board written exam and then a practical exam. During the practical exam, they will demonstrate braiding, twisting, hot thermal iron, silk pressing and adding in hair.

“In addition to what is required by the state board, we are offering locs and loc maintenance,” Harris said.

Locs is a popular hairstyle, which involves coiling, braiding, twisting or palm rolling hair.

Once they take and pass the exam, they will apply for a natural hair care specialist license for North Carolina.

Harris said enrollment starts in August for both the fall 2022 semester and spring 2023.

They will accept 10 to 12 students and will have a wait list.

The academy offers two disciplines. Natural hair care specialist, which is 300 clocked hours, and tuition of $3,775 and natural hair care specialist instructor trainee, which is 320 clocked hours and $3,975 tuition.

Harris said for the first year, classes will be held at night on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

After the first three weeks, students will start servicing clients in the community by appointment.

In addition to Harris, there will be a second instructor, Shanise Flott, who is a salon owner in Gaston County and licensed instructor.

So far, there’s already been interest, even though they haven’t yet advertised.

“We haven’t really advertised yet, other than word of mouth,” Harris said.

Interested students and community members can take a tour of the school and pick up brochures and applications.

Students will be given a kit, which includes textbooks, supplies, uniform and ID badge.

“Students will be learning how to operate a full service salon,” Harris said. “This teaches them to open their own business or rent a booth or suite.”

Students are required to write a business plan and apply for a business license.

In addition to the administrative office, laundry room and classroom, is the clinic.

“This is where the magic happens,” Harris said. “This is the fun part.”

The clinic has capacity for 12 students. There are stations with mirrors and chairs and two hair dryers and students will put into practice what they’ve learned in the classroom.

The last two weeks of the semester, students prepare for state boards and pack their bags with everything they’ll need for the practical exam.

“We want 100% pass for state boards for all students,” Harris said. “That’s the goal.”