Black cosmetology professor fills the hair care gap


EASTON — Briana Brown, one of the first — if not the first — African-American cosmetology teacher at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, is finding new ways to bridge the hair care gap when it comes to serving clients.

Not only is Brown making history, but so is Massachusetts. Recently, the State Senate passed the CROWN Act banning discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles.

A 2021 study by Dove and the CROWN Coalition found that race-based hair discrimination begins as young as age 5 and persists into adulthood.

Brown wants the future hairstylist attending her classes to be familiar with the different wave patterns clients can have so they never feel bad about themselves once they leave a salon.

The same study surveyed 1,000 young female students and 32% of black female respondents said negative comments about their hair had a negative impact on their self-esteem.

In today’s society, the industry is becoming more diverse, Brown said, but frizzy, curly hair is often left on the back burner.

In many states, there is no requirement for curly or curly hair on state licensing exams, and some hairstylists are not required to be taught in school how to style, cut, or treat curly hair. curly or curly hair, Brown said.

“The state, for a long time, didn’t focus its energy on curly or kinky hair. It didn’t specify that you had to use curly or kinky hair in the program. So if you’re an educator, it was it’s your responsibility to figure that out to somehow incorporate it, but if you didn’t know how to do it, how would you be able to incorporate it?” said Brown.

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“I find there’s a gap, and people are very afraid to touch curly hair because they think it’s harder, but it’s not. That’s what you do. , only the technique changes. That’s why I do the blown boot camp,” Brown said.

The Explosive Boot Camp

Blow Boot Camp teaches students four methods of blow-drying on mannequins with different wave patterns. All blowouts should be smooth and straight, regardless of the wave pattern.

Four wave patterns are straight, wavy, curly, and coiled or kinky, giving students different ways to approach any wave pattern.

“I would like my students to embrace the idea that no one should ever be turned away from a service or hair salon because of a lack of knowledge. It is your responsibility to know how to do this. No one should never get fired or taken away from a salon because you didn’t understand the knowledge,” Brown said.

Briana Brown, cosmetology teacher at Southeast Regional Vocational Technical High School in Easton, stands with some of the school's models Friday, March 25, 2022.

In the southeast, the cosmetology department ensures that students are fully equipped with the knowledge and tools for every hair type.

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When Brown arrived at Southeastern, she was impressed with the school’s existing curriculum and its inclusion of curly, curly hair textures. Brown may be the first color cosmetology teacher in Southeastern history, but the school wasn’t sure.

“The program before I came here had everything they needed for training curls and curls. They had the dummies and the hot stove. They have everything I could use as a teacher to teach the techniques to my different students, and of course I could bring my flair and my experience,” Brown said.

A pioneer

In honor of Black History Month, the Cosmetology Department invited special guest, Sandra Bronson, who visited the school on Friday, February 25, 2022.

Bronson’s grandmother, Elizabeth Newton, founded the Newton School of Beauty Culture in 1949. It was the first black-owned business to open in Dorchester.

“Newton’s dedication and legacy helped pave the way for black cosmetology educators like Briana Brown, who is one of the first educators of color in Southeastern High School’s cosmetology department. Among the next generation of cosmetologists, Brown helps teach is sophomore Rhema Heywood, Bronson’s granddaughter,” Southeastern said in a press release.

A call

Ever since she was a teenager, Brown knew she wanted to be a cosmetologist and begged her mother to attend vocational school.

The Dorchester native attended Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Malden and in 2012 earned a bachelor’s degree in cosmetology.

Briana Brown is a cosmetology teacher at South East Regional Vocational Technical High School in Easton, seen here on Friday March 25, 2022.

After working in the industry for a few years, Brown decided to teach and also run a special event beauty business.

Currently, Brown is pursuing a degree in vocational education at Fitchburg University and runs a small business.

Teaching cosmetology at Southeastern is Brown’s livelihood, and she wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

“I love everything about teaching. It connects and shapes the minds of the next generation,” Brown said.

Alisha Saint-Ciel, corporate staff reporter, can be reached by email at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter at @alishaspeakss and Instagram at Alishaatv. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.


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