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Beyoncé Investing in One of America’s Oldest Black-Owned Beauty Schools Her Mother Attended

Beyoncé is investing in the next generation of barbers and hairstylists with her newly launched Cécred x BeyGOOD Student Scholarship Fund.

For 109 years, one family has been investing in that space through the Franklin Institute, a barber and cosmetology school in Houston, Texas.

“‘The Franklin way is the right way,'” says fourth-generation owner Ron Jemison Jr.

The institute’s roots date back to 1915, making it one of the country’s longest-standing Black-owned businesses. Jemison’s great-grandmother, Madam Nobia Franklin, founded a hairstyling salon in San Antonio and made her own hair products. Since then, the Franklin Beauty Culture School moved around to Fort Worth, Houston and Chicago before moving back to Houston in 1934.

Fast forward to 2024 and Jemison has put his own touch on the business, renaming it to Franklin Institute. He’s also expanded it to include barbershop classes and diversified the racial makeup of students.

“This is 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,” he said. “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.”

He says what makes the Franklin Institute stand out is a sense of family — but not just his own blood.

“It’s that family love and feel that we give. It’s how we know our students by name, not by number,” he said.

One student you also probably know by name is Ms. Tina Knowles, who graduated from the beauty school in the ’80s. Jemison refers to her as a pioneer in the industry and local community.

“She had a wonderful salon here in Houston. It wasn’t that she just graduated from Franklin, she actually really impacted the Houston community with her salon,” he underscored.

Headliners Salon was the first stage for Ms. Tina’s daughter, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, performing for women in her mother’s chair. Now, decades later the singer is returning to her roots with a new haircare line called Cécred, which she says honors a sacred space for the Black community. Ivy McGregor, executive director of Beyoncé’s public charity BeyGOOD, grew up in that space, which she says feels like family dinners.

“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,” McGregor shared. “It’s an apex. It’s a center of culture in our community.”

As reviews for her haircare products pour in, Beyoncé is pouring $500,000 into the people who create those sacred spaces.

The Franklin Institute is one of five cosmetology schools across the U.S. chosen to be a recipient of the Cécred x BeyGOOD Student Scholarships fund.

“We wanted to recognize and tell this broader story of how cosmetology has been such a mainstay in our culture,” McGregor said. “What a better school than Franklin Institute to tell that long-standing story, with a history of having served Houston and surrounding areas for so many years.”

Other notable schools listed include Beaver Beauty Academy in Atlanta, Trenz Beauty Academy in Chicago, Universal College of Beauty in Los Angeles and Janas Cosmetology Academy in New Jersey.

The Cécred x BeyGOOD fund will also provide salon business grants in those same locations, which McGregor says were selected based on market research.

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