A natural hairdressing school will open in Kings Mountain and is the first of its kind in Cleveland County.

The Free 2 B Natural Hair Academy, located at 104 N. Dilling St., will welcome new students this fall.

Yolanda Harris, owner and teacher, said the family business is the only such school in the county.

“We’re excited to be the pioneers,” she said.

She said that while the community college has a cosmetology program, it doesn’t deal extensively with natural hair care.

“Students want to learn more about the realm of natural hair,” she said.

The 2,000 square foot building is painted a crisp white, and Harris said a team from Charlotte completed the renovations and design.

The motto inscribed under the company name outside the buildings reads: “not a hairstyle, but a lifestyle”.

The academy offers the opportunity to acquire professional training and education leading to obtaining a license.

Harris has been a natural hairstylist for 15 years and has her own salon in Kings Mountain.

She said she has a passion for people who want to embrace their naturally textured hair without altering their natural curl pattern with chemicals.

No perms, dyes or chemicals are used. Students learn first and foremost about infection control, sanitation, sterilization of equipment, and exposure to blood.

“Before you can see clients, they have to go through this process,” Harris said.

The 16-week program is equivalent to 300 timed hours. Upon graduation, students will take a written state board exam and then a practical exam. During the practical exam, they will demonstrate braiding, twisting, hot thermal iron, silk pressing and adding hair.

“In addition to what is required by the state board, we offer locs and loc maintenance,” Harris said.

Locs is a popular hairstyle, which involves coiling, braiding, twisting or palm rolling the hair.

Once they have taken and passed the exam, they will apply for a Natural Hair Care Specialist License for North Carolina.

Harris said enrollment will begin Aug. 1 for the fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters.

They will accept 10-12 students and will have a waiting list.

The academy offers two disciplines. Natural Hair Care Specialist, 300 timed hours, and $3,775 tuition and Natural Hair Care Specialist Instructor Trainee, 320 timed hours, and $3,975 tuition.

Harris says that for the first year, classes will be held in the evenings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

After the first three weeks, students will begin serving community customers by appointment.

In addition to Harris, there will be a second instructor, Shanise Flott, who is a salon owner in Gaston County and a licensed instructor.

So far there has already been some interest, although they have yet to advertise.

“We haven’t really advertised yet, other than word of mouth,” Harris said.

A grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, July 30 at 5:30 p.m.

Interested students and community members can visit the school and pick up brochures and applications.

More information can also be found on the website, Free2BNaturalAcademy.com or interested students can call 704-750-6053. Anyone interested in receiving the stylists’ services can also call or visit the website to schedule an appointment.

Students will receive a kit including textbooks, supplies, uniform, and ID badge.

“Students will learn how to operate a full-service salon,” Harris said. “It teaches them to open their own business or rent a booth or a suite.”

Students must write a business plan and apply for a business license.

In addition to the administrative office, the laundry room and the classroom, is the clinic.

“That’s where the magic happens,” Harris said. “That’s the fun part.”

The clinic has a capacity of 12 students. There are stations with mirrors and chairs and two hair dryers and students will practice what they have learned in class.

The last two weeks of the semester, students prepare for State Boards and pack their bags with everything they will need for the practical exam.

“We want 100% state board pass for all students,” Harris said. “That’s the point.”

Rebecca Sitzes can be reached at [email protected]