By Leah Fletcher
The Divine Beauty School of Esther
5524 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19144
The practice of Cosmetology can be traced back as far as the Ancient Egyptians, who were known for their magnificent beauty, exotic perfumes, stylish clothing, flamboyant style, and ornate hairstyles. Women of Ancient Egypt, depending on the time period they lived in, wore their hair short or long, which was braided or curled. Some wore elaborate wigs. Wealthy women adorned their elaborately curled hair with jewelry, gold strands, flowers, beads, ribbons and hair bands.
Regardless of how Egyptian women adorned themselves, it’s highly unlikely they accomplished the task without the help of a trusted hair stylist, who was a trained cosmetologist. .
Fast forward to the present; The beauty industry has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry and is in need of highly trained professionals. “The demand for cosmetologists is high and is expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future; according to Darice Fleming, founder and owner of the Divine Beauty School of Esther, which is the only operational: Black –owned beauty culture training school in the Philadelphia region.
The school, located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, offers a full cosmetology program that instructs students how to cut and style hair, color it, give manicures, apply artificial nails and learn how to beautify skin through the use of facials and body wraps. The full program can take anywhere from nine to 24 months, depending on whether a student takes classes on a part-time or full-time basis.
Divine Beauty School offers flexible hours and payment plans that allow students to pay as they attend. “The average student pays $20 per day and is asked to attend at least three out of the five days the school operates,” explained Fleming. “I instituted the model in hopes of touching and fortifying the hopes and dreams of those who are genuinely seeking to better themselves in spite of their ability to pay,” Fleming said.
The state-of-the art facility is staffed with expert instructors, such as Joyce Anderson, who also serves as Chief Operating Officer. Anderson, who has 44 years of cosmetology teaching experience, explains that in addition to the technical training requirements, staff works to develop students in the areas of “virtue-based life skills” that encompass character and wisdom, as well as the tenets of good customer service.
Areas of Study
Divine Beauty School is the first and only school able to offer the State of Pennsylvania’s newly required natural braiding certification, Fleming says. Students are required to complete a specified number of course hours before becoming certified in any program area. Here is a list of the school’s program offerings:
Washing, drying, weaving, braiding, wrapping and coloring are part of a hair stylist’s repertoire. Licensed hairdressers can work from a salon, from their homes or even make house calls. Each state has different licensing procedures, but many require hairdressers to complete a state board exam to become certified. In Pennsylvania students are certified by the State Board of Cosmetology
Licensed manicurist clean, shape and polish fingernails, message hands. Most states require manicurist or nail techs to have a license, which can be obtained with coursework and a written exam. Some states also require classroom and hands-on- training as a condition of licensure. For example Pennsylvania requires manicurist to complete training from an approved cosmetology arts school and pass a mandatory exam. The Divine Beauty program offers instruction in this area and is currently formulating a certificate program.
An esthetician specializes in cleaning, toning and messaging the skin with lotions, creams, tonics and other cosmetic preparations. Additionally, licensed estheticians can apply makeup and trim eyelashes and eyebrows, as well as apply permanent makeup. A licensed esthetician is also knowledgeable about skin disorders, skin analysis and the microscopic layers of the dermis. “One of the most unique fields in cosmetology is the field of esthetics, Fleming says. “Facial treatments, body wraps, and even hair removal treatments are all part of esthetics, however, estheticians are limited to doing skin procedures that are not of a medical nature,” she explained.
Those aspiring to be braiders are provided with step-by-step instruction on how to braid hair. They will become expert in the creation of different hairstyles, with an emphasis on the art and skill of the African style of braiding. “The trend has lead to most states requiring braiders to become certified,” said Fleming. Under Pennsylvania state law, braiders are required to complete 300 hours of training to become certified by the State’s Board of Cosmetology. “Braiders engaged in the profession before the passage of the law are given time to earn the certificate,” explained Fleming, who noted that the Divine Beauty School also offers the curriculum in French for the large pool of braiders from French-speaking West Africa.
For those licensed cosmetologists wishing to further their careers in the field, while sharing their talents with others, a Cosmetology Instructor Certification program is an option. “The curriculum emphasizes student skills such as student counseling, evaluation, safety measures, and other career-related concepts, explained Anderson. ” Students in the program will learn both practical and theoretical procedures while assisting a licensed instructor and a specified number of classroom hours,” she said. Advanced training and refresher courses also are offered.
Divine Beauty School offers students an affordable pay structure. “Our payment plan does not exclude students from beginning a career,” said Fleming. She is seeking Title IV accreditation, which will allow the school to offer federal student aid. Students enrolled in the full program can expect to pay as low pay between $1,200 and $6,200 for tuition, depending on the program. According to the American Association of Cosmetology School s the average cost of cosmetology school is $10,000 and escalates to $19,000 in some areas of the country.
After graduating from Divine Beauty school, which is a licensed cosmetology school, students must pass an examination administered by the state they reside in. In Pennsylvania student must be certified by the State Board of Cosmetology.
Future for Employment
According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the job outlook for hair stylist is expected to increase by 12 percent by 2016 in that same time frame; 34 percent for estheticians; and 28 percent for nail technicians.
“Students income’s can exceed six figures if they do not limit themselves,” explained Anderson, who pointed to endless opportunities in the industry that include product creation and service to an array of industries. “Hairstylists or make-up artist don’t just beautify clients for special events or to look pretty. They are also needed in films, theater, and entertainment productions.” said Anderson. She believes the sky is really the limit for today’s cosmetology professionals.