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Flint Twp., MI–Flint’s Corinthian Carouthers II has been in the beauty industry for 20 years.
In that time, she has helped develop and teach a special curriculum to budding stylists, published an e-book, and even recorded a podcast in the pursuit of sharing a message rarely offered in her industry: Black hair care education is important.
“When I was in beauty school, we didn’t learn anything about textured hair–how to maintain it, how to comb it, how to style it–all those things are foreign in beauty schools,” said Carouthers, sitting in the lobby of Creative Hair School of Cosmetology, which she co-owns with her mother and brother.
Carouthers said she is naturally reserved and shy, joking that she had envisioned an accounting job in a quiet office of her own after graduating from Flint Central High School in 2001. She’d been accepted into Tennessee State University, but she ultimately decided to stay in Flint.
“I had a lot of personal things I was working through as a young teenager,” she said of that decision.
Now a picture of poise, sitting tall in a light gray turtleneck sweater and purple lipstick, Carouthers said she didn’t have the confidence to go off on her own back then.
“I stuttered really bad,” she said, adding that her speech impediment still comes out when she’s particularly anxious or excited.
Though she wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue a career in the beauty industry, Carouthers started classes at her mother’s beauty school–the same one she now co-owns–previously located at the Mayfair Plaza in north Flint.
“And when I did, oh my goodness, it was the best thing for me,” Carouthers said. “I had to learn how to communicate with people. I had to infuse confidence into them through hairstyling. So that felt like a good start for myself.”
She finished the program in a year. Then she went on to get her instructor’s license.
“And I’ve been here ever since,” she said, gesturing one hand of bright green manicured nails toward the salon behind her.
And ever since, Carouthers has also been working to provide the natural hair education she found lacking in her own early experience.
Carouthers recently adapted the natural hair curriculum now taught at her family-owned beauty school, creating an online platform to share that knowledge beyond its walls. She also uses her online school to teach natural hair skills she’s personally found necessary or helpful in her profession.
“I knew that there was more that I needed to give,” she said. “Because books are only going to tell you so much, right? It’s that real life experience that people want.”
But Carouthers didn’t stop at developing an online natural hair curriculum. She also designed a textured hair mannequin to accompany her “Texture on Texture” styling course, a mannequin which she has since mailed out to her online certification program’s over 200 students.
Carouthers also started a podcast in 2020. There, she speaks with industry leaders to further educate professionals, students, and natural hair enthusiasts alike. She just reached 50 episodes and nearly 5,000 downloads last month.
And she still has more to do.
Carouthers said she has plans to start hosting “Mommy and Me, Daddy and Me” workshops for parents who want to learn how to style and care for their children’s hair.
“I had a lady reach out, she has a biracial daughter and she doesn’t know how to do her hair,’” said Carouthers. She hears this concern from parents often since the school requires children to be seven years or older for services.
“So that kind of was my inspiration,” she said. “I want to bridge that gap.”
The start date for the workshops is to be determined.
In the meantime, Carouthers, more confident than she was in high school but still “quiet” by her own measure, gives thanks to her mom, who founded Creative Hair School of Cosmetology in 1999 and spurred her to find her confidence in the natural hair care space.
“I really commend my mother,” Carouthers said before getting up to return to her salon floor, filled with black chairs and pristine stylists’ stations. “She’s the visionary.”