Iowa inmates can learn barbering skills through apprenticeships | national news
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Trent Keller cut Donshey Reed’s hair when Reed was a teenager growing up in Waterloo.
Now Keller, 48, is teaching Reed, 38, how to cut hair as part of the Iowa Department of Corrections’ barber apprenticeship program.
Keller drives more than two hours twice a month from Waterloo to Mount Pleasant to coach Reed in practical haircutting skills, as well as the business skills Keller has learned as the owner of the Hairport barbershop for over 20 years. year.
“Every client you do, you want them to come away looking like Denzel Washington. You want them to look like Magnum PI,” Keller said recently during a session with Reed.
The Department of Corrections, which launched its barber apprenticeship program in 2018, has seven graduates and half a dozen other men in training at state prisons, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
While prisons have had the program for several years, barbershops in Iowa are launching their own apprenticeship programs under a change in Iowa law last year that allows would-be barbers to be paid while they learn from other barbers and through a state-approved program.
While apprenticeship fees are only a fraction of barber school tuition – which may allow more people to enter the profession – some barbers say the state needs to give more guidance to these nascent programs to ensure that apprentices receive sufficient training.
When Keller decided in 1992 that he wanted to be a barber, his job at Pizza Hut wasn’t enough to pay for his education. He won Pell grants to pay for his tuition at the College of Hair Design and Young’s Cosmetology School, both in Waterloo.
Today, Iowa has only one barber school, the Salon Professional Academy, in Cedar Falls. Marc Nalls plans to open the Clippernomics Academy of Hairstyling in Des Moines later this year.
The Clippernomics website lists a special $6,000 entry for a program that includes lessons in haircutting, styling and coloring, as well as facial and nail techniques, safety and chemistry and the laws and the ethics of being a professional barber/stylist.
Nalls has been cutting hair for 25 years, but to open Clippernomics he had to get an instructor certification. His school must also be bonded, which means money is set aside in case a consumer files a complaint.
“It takes a lot of guidance and teaching to get a person to go from A to Z,” Nalls said of the instruction. “Before you even start cutting hair, you have to go through sanitation laws and rules. Then there are the nerves, muscles, and arteries (and learning) of the barber’s story.
Iowa has several cosmetology schools, which offer training in other beauty services in addition to haircutting, including Capri College, in Cedar Rapids, and PCI Academy, in Iowa City and Ames.
LaJames International College, with campuses in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Waterloo, Fort Dodge and Johnston, is facing a class action lawsuit from former students who claim the cosmetology school mishandled their student loan money, reported the Des Moines Register on January 3.
The state Department of Corrections barber apprenticeship requires 2,000 hours of hands-on work and several months of book work that includes 12 written tests. All prison apprenticeships, certified by the US Department of Labor, are tied to necessary jobs in the corrections system.
In 2020, Mitchell Stites became the first person to complete the program. When he was released in March 2020, he had to pass the state written test and a two-hour proctored test which includes cutting hair with scissors, clippers and a straight razor as well as highlighting and perming a model’s hair.
“I passed this practical test using YouTube,” Stites told The Gazette in October. “I went through a lot of stress and anxiety about it.” Stites opened his own barber shop, Barber House, in Urbandale last June.
To improve the program, the corrections department is working to bring seasoned barbers, like Keller, into prisons to help with practical skills and share their business expertise.
You need to know when to speak and when to listen. Work fast – more heads mean more money – but don’t make the workshop look like an assembly line. Take care of your gear and your body, because if you can’t stand for eight to 10 hours a day, you’ll be out of a job.
Keller shared these nuggets with Reed during a recent meeting at Mount Pleasant Correctional Institution. Reed had scheduled a dozen haircuts for Keller to help with technique, but due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the prison, hands-on training was put on hold.
Reed offered some of his own hard-won wisdom.
“I started wrestling when I was 4,” he said. “I was very hyperactive”
If Reed’s grades weren’t high enough in high school, his parents wouldn’t let him go to practices or wrestling meets. This structure motivated him to continue his studies on the right path, he said.
Reed has been incarcerated several times for selling marijuana, with this latest trip to prison following a parole violation, he said. But Reed now feels like learning to be a barber has given him the structure he needs and the skills to make money without dealing drugs.
“A lot of people want to be entrepreneurs, but they’re selling the wrong product,” Keller said. As a barber, the product is competent and caring service, he said.
Reed’s plan is to return to Waterloo when he is released later this year. He will work another job to earn money, but will get tutoring from Keller to prepare for state exams. Once fired, Reed wants to rent a chair to start building a clientele.
In May, Governor Kim Reynolds signed Senate Docket 424, which requires state licensing boards, such as the Board of Barbering, to license individuals who have completed Department of Labor-certified apprenticeships, to provided that they have also passed the required examinations and paid fees.
When the board met Aug. 30, three Iowa hair salons had requested to have apprenticeship programs, according to meeting minutes.
Council director Venus Vendoures Walsh said the council would accept certified apprenticeships as a means of obtaining a licence. These programs must include 2,000 hours of in-person and hands-on training and 380 hours of classroom instruction in the Milady Barber Program.
Teono and Kristin Smith, owners of Tru All-American Barbershop in Des Moines, launched an apprenticeship program Oct. 5 and now have six apprentices, Teono Smith told The Gazette.
“When you have school, you go eight or nine hours a day and you don’t get paid,” he said. “In apprenticeship, you get paid and it’s cheaper.”
Apprentices pay $500 at the start of the program, which is expected to last 12 to 14 months, Smith said. They observe licensed barbers and possibly perform their own services, including haircuts and facials. Apprentices earn an hourly wage to start; later, their salary will be based on commission.
Nalls, of Clippernomics, said he thinks a barbership apprenticeship is a good path for someone with years of experience cutting the hair of friends and family. But he would like the state to structure learning more.
“The State of Iowa and the Barbering Board are going to have to come up with more rules,” he said.
Stan Yoder, owner of Stan’s Barber Stylists in Iowa City, graduated from Cedar Rapids Barber School and became a licensed barber in 1966. At that time, there were 8,000 barbers in Iowa. When it was last certified in July, there were 1,200.
Yoder thinks the apprenticeships are a step backwards.
“If a store is busy, I have no idea how the person working the chair would have time to teach someone,” he said. And not all barbers are made to teach. “I could probably show you how to do it, but if you didn’t get it, I wouldn’t have the patience to show you over and over and over again.”
Yoder would like to see training in hairdressing and cosmetology taken over by community colleges, which could offer training in cuts, highlights, safety and hygiene, while offering business courses.