Path Home Shows 2014 Show Archive August 2014 Show 1434 Stylin’ Stylist

Stylin’ Stylist

From accountant to cosmetologist, this college graduate changed career paths and retrained to re-enter the workforce.
Stylin’ Stylist

Stylin’ Stylist

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Tulsa Technology Center


Show Details

Show 1434: Stylin’ Stylist
Air Date: August 24, 2014



Rob McClendon: Well, American manufacturing was the first to feel the pinch of globalization – jobs shipped offshore in the 90s as manufacturers sought to lower their production costs. And it is a trend that hasn’t stopped there. Everyone from computer programmers to engineers have found themselves outsourced in this new global economy. Which is why when one Oklahoman lost his accounting job, he decided to strike out on a new path. Joining me now to tell us his story is the latest addition to our “Oklahoma Horizon” team – Courtney Maye.

Courtney Maye: Well, Rob, a former accountant’s hobby is about to be his career. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in accounting and working in the industry for two years, Emanuel Perry’s life took another turn. So he went back to school to become a cosmetologist.

Courtney: From accountant to cosmetology student, at 28 years old, Emanuel Perry’s life changes styles.

Emanuel Perry: I had a couple of jobs, and my last job I was laid off. And everybody was telling me, “You know, you have such a good talent for hair. You should really pursue hair,” and I was just like, “I really like corporate America and its stability.” And then with the job market changing the way it does, it’s not really stable. So it just kind of afforded me the opportunity to go to school for this, something different.

Courtney: A different approach to a lifelong interest.

Perry: I used to have long hair, believe it or not, and I used to get it braided, but I only let like a couple of people braid it. So when I didn’t get it braided I would get it straightened, and this girl she kind of like burnt a piece of my hair off. So I was like, man I can probably burn my own hair out so I might as well try it myself. So I just started flat ironing my own hair, and it kind of went from there.

Courtney: Perry’s instructor Sarah Ruleford says she immediately knew he was a natural.

Sarah Ruleford: He was born to do this thing. He loves it, and he’s always been just, you know, picks up really quickly on everything. There’s nothing that he’s not good at.

Courtney: Good news for client Linda Keeton.

Linda Keeton: Oh my God, it is such a treat!

Courtney: Perry says the experience he gained as an accountant still helps him in the styling chair.

Perry: It forces me to be disciplined. Like accounting is very cut and dry, it’s either right or wrong. So I have a lot of discipline with making things happen, and it will help me with a salon if I do decide to open one in the future. I have the business background to hopefully run it real smooth and make it work well for me.

Courtney: Not only do Perry and his classmates get a hands-on experience, they also learn the history of cosmetology and the theory behind it.

Perry: Well, we have different days, you know, some days we’re in the lab initially, some days we’re in the classroom. So it just depends, you know, if we go in the classroom we have our bookwork that we have to do and study our theory and things like that. And then when we come into the lab, we have our mannequins and sometimes a few clients. The daytime isn’t as busy, but we have clients, and we, you know, do our perm roll ups and we do color, flat irons and just different things that we have to do for hair.

Courtney: Ruleford says Perry has more talent than even he realizes, and his opportunities in this industry are endless.

Ruleford: I don’t think that he gives himself enough credit, and I don’t think that he realizes what all he can do. Since he’s come here a lot of things have opened up his eyes to his future and what he is capable of doing.

Courtney: Perry’s goals are big for cosmetology. And every curl brings him one step closer to achieving his dream.

Perry: I will probably want to own more than one salon, ’cause I kind of want money, you know. And I’ll also have my hands dipped in some other business fields, like maybe real estate or some type of venture like that, to have multiple streams of income.

Courtney: Perry says he will graduate debt-free from a highly respected program, which has opened a door of opportunities.

Perry: I mean I think it gives you adequate training at a very reasonable price. I mean it’s like $5,000 to go here for cosmetology, and all the other schools are like $13,000 or more. So I mean it’s very affordable. They teach you all you need to know, they’re very helpful, and they understand, you know, life happens, so they kind of work with you with life situations. So I think it’s a very good program.

Courtney: And client Linda Keeton says she never leaves without a smile on her face.

Keeton: Well, I came to him a couple of times before, and when he did my hair and he turned me around in the chair, ’cause I didn’t get to see the whole time he was working on it, and when he turned me around I was like, “Oh my gosh, I love it, I like it, yeah, that looks good!”

Perry: She’s not gonna wash her hair for like three days.

Keeton: That doesn’t look like me.


Courtney: Perry will graduate from the cosmetology program at Tulsa Technology Center in September, and several salons have already contacted Perry offering him a position once he finishes school.

Rob: So, Courtney, let me ask you this – what is an average starting salary for a cosmetologist like Perry?

Courtney: Well, when I spoke to Perry’s instructor Sarah Ruleford she explained to me that a starting salary for a cosmetologist in Oklahoma ranges anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000 year. And she says that number can increase significantly within the first three years of being in the industry just depending on a person’s skill level.

Rob: All right. Thank you so much and welcome aboard.

Courtney: Thank you Rob.