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Beyoncé Investing In One Of America's Oldest Black-Owned Beauty Schools

Updated: May 6

As reported by CBS News, for over a century, beauty salons and barber shops have served as sacred spaces for Black women and men to connect, commune, and build community. One such space, the Franklin Institute, has been a cornerstone of Houston, Texas for 109 years.

Madam Nobia Franklin,

Founded in 1915 by Madam Nobia Franklin, the Franklin Institute has a rich history of nurturing the next generation of hair stylists and barbers. The institute has evolved and expanded over the decades, moving from San Antonio to Fort Worth to its current location in Houston.

In 2024, fourth-generation owner Ron Jemison Jr. is carrying on the legacy of the Franklin Institute with his own vision. He has expanded the curriculum to include barbering and has diversified the student body, welcoming students of all backgrounds.

Jemison's approach to education is grounded in a deep respect for the craft and a commitment to excellence. "The Franklin way is the right way," he asserts, emphasizing the institute's unwavering standards. "You're actually putting chemicals on their hair that could actually have a reverse [effect] and all the hair falls out. So, that's why it's so important to go to school. We call them doctors, they're hair doctors."

Ronald Jemison Jr. and Family

At the heart of the Franklin Institute's success is a sense of family and community. "It's that family love and feel that we give. It's how we know our students by name, not by number," Jemison explains. This personal touch creates a nurturing environment that empowers students to thrive.

One notable alumna of the Franklin Institute is Ms. Tina Knowles, who graduated in the 1980s and went on to establish the iconic Headliners Salon in Houston. Her daughter, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, performed for customers in the salon as a young girl, marking the beginning of her own music career.

Now, Beyoncé is giving back to the community that nurtured her. Through her new haircare line, Cécred, and her philanthropic organization BeyGOOD, she is investing $500,000 in the Franklin Institute and four other historically significant cosmetology schools across the United States.

Beyonce with Ivy McGregor, BeyGOOD Director of Social Responsibility

Ivy McGregor, executive director of BeyGOOD, grew up in the sacred space of a beauty salon and understands firsthand the importance of these community hubs. "It's where you will hear anything talked about. It's the conversation where you've got somebody that's hilarious and making everybody laugh. You've got some woman that's the tenured woman in the community that's offering everybody wisdom, right? You have all of these stories and everybody's in a safe space to share," she shares.

The $10,000 scholarships and grants from the Cécred x BeyGOOD fund will be a game-changer for many aspiring hair stylists and salon owners. The financial burden of becoming a licensed cosmetologist can be steep, with average costs exceeding $14,000 in Texas and $20,000 nationally. This investment from Beyoncé will open doors and create opportunities for a new generation of talent.

As McGregor points out, cosmetology is an industry that has been overlooked despite its vital role in communities of color.

The impact of Beyoncé's generosity will be felt for years to come. "In her hometown of Houston, her commitment has never wavered, right? Every opportunity to give, first on her list is home. And so we're super excited to have this opportunity to really make an impact that will be sustainable," McGregor emphasizes.

The Franklin Institute is poised to be a major beneficiary of this investment. With its rich history and commitment to excellence, it is the perfect institution to tell the story of how cosmetology has been a mainstay of Black culture.

As McGregor puts it, "When you think about loans and things that are salvaging industries that have had challenges, we've never heard of there being this attention specifically to cosmetology and so we are excited to do be able to do that through Mrs. Carter's heart, to uplift this entire industry."

This investment from Beyoncé is a testament to the enduring importance of beauty salons and barber shops as sacred spaces for Black communities. It is a recognition of the legacy of institutions like the Franklin Institute and a commitment to ensuring their continued success. As Jemison reflects, "It's the foundation. You're talented but you have to know the rules and regulations. You have to pass this test to move forward because you have people in your hands. You're actually putting chemicals on their hair that could actually have a reverse [effect] and all the hair falls out. So, that's why it's so important to go to school. We call them doctors, they're hair doctors."

With the support of visionary leaders like Beyoncé and committed educators like Ron Jemison Jr., the future of Black beauty culture looks bright. The Franklin Institute and institutions like it will continue to be the foundation upon which the next generation of hair stylists and cosmetologists build their careers and contribute to their communities. 

"I think the scholarship will definitely help motivate the young lady that's been dreaming of being a cosmetologist but just didn't know the steps to take," Jemison said. "And so to see somebody that they might idolize, somebody that comes from the same hometown as they do, that has made it, has used their platform to give back to the community and also show a statement of, 'You can do it!'"

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