A salon owner in Dartmouth, N.S., is hoping to start her own apprenticeship program and private career college focusing on Black beauty culture and hair.
When Samantha Dixon Slawter saw a lack of equality and services when it comes to hair and cosmetics in the Black community, she decided to do something about it.
“When Viola Desmond started her hair dressing school, it was a change of culture. Meaning Black people were being taken care of,” explained Samantha.
Samantha learned her skills through an apprenticeship more than 35 years ago.
Now owning a business of her own, she wants to pass her skills on to the others.
“For this generation, for this generation, it would be the first,” said Samantha.
Applications to the province have been sent, the curriculum is being mapped out, and fundraising is underway.
“We want to offer more services but we can’t do that without education,” said Samantha.
In a statement from the Department of Labour and Advanced Learning, they say they did receive an application to designate Black beauty culture hair innovator as a trade in Nova Scotia, which they are reviewing.
“In order to determine industry interest and support, the Board has established a Trade Advisory Committee to review the application, consult with the industry, and make a recommendation to the Apprenticeship Board. This work is currently underway and we continue to update and work with Ms. Slawter as it progresses,” they said in an email to CTV News.
Brownen Trim-MacDonald knows all too well about the lack of experience, many times leaving her hair appointments disappointed.
“I’d like to see more acknowledgement of the fact that Black people of Nova Scotia are consumers,” said Trim-Macdonald.
The Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia says stylists do receive training in all types of hair but admits with textured hair, there is a gap.
“We do feel there is a bit more need to focus on it in the schools from the ground up, and to maybe also provide more training to members who currently maybe lost the confidence to do very curly hair,” said Dana Sharkey, with the Cosmetology Association of Nova Scotia.
Samantha believes her idea of an apprenticeship and career college prioritizing in black hair and beauty needs is a great solution.
“The Black community has been ignored by the industry, period. So, it’s necessary, it’s necessary,” said Samantha.