Tressed for success: This Shaker Square center empowers people in transition

Monica Green always liked playing with her friends’ hair as a youngster. In fact, the Cleveland native enrolled in cosmetology school while attending high school in Chicago. “My mom enrolled me to keep me focused,” Green recalls. “And she knew I liked doing hair.”

Green still is passionate about the barber and beauty industry, and today she owns So Curly, So Kinky, So Straight in South Euclid, along with a salon in University Heights and a state-licensed cosmetology school Shaker Square.

She began her career as a marketing and communications guru—working as a pharmaceutical rep for Pfizer, with music groups like the O’Jays and LeVert, and as vice president of a beauty magazine before returning to her roots to open a business in the hair styling and cosmetology realm. For Green, the leap made sense since salon ownership "bridges my love for doing hair with my gift of doing marketing communications.”

Two years ago, Green and her brother, LaRick Calhoun, founded the Barber and Beauty Empowerment Center (BBEC) at her 40-seat, two-story, 8,000-square-foot academy, which also serves the public, in the heart of Shaker Square (13104 Shaker Square). “The BBEC is a resource center specifically for beauty and barber professionals,” explains Green. “It provides the best opportunity to launch into another level of their career paths.”

As part of the BBEC, members follow Green’s Steps to Success program, which she says blends life experience with hands-on experience. Individuals looking to enter or advance in the beauty industry gain access to workforce development training programs; advanced training programs; business development services, employment, and entrepreneurial resources; and state-approved licensing programs for individuals looking to pursue a career in cosmetology, barbering, and healthy hair.

Green and the BBEC were recently awarded a $6,000 grant from the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland to support people in transition, including formerly incarcerated individuals and displaced barbers and cosmetologists, in their career paths. “We were very thankful,” says Green of the grant. “There’s definitely a second chance piece in there, but it’s also for people who are in transition. They may be licensed, but they don’t have a place to actualize their [goals].”

The BBEC collaborated with cosmetic chemist Crystal Porter to formulate a line of healthy hair care products called H2 Healthy Hair and develop natural beauty products. “We’re known to be one of the top natural hair salons and we focus on anti-aging and hair loss prevention,” says Green, adding that her salons cater to all types of hair. “We’re not just an ethnic brand. And we’re working with the Muslim and Jewish communities.”

At their University Heights-based 1,700-square-foot, 14-chair H2 Salon (2263 Warrensville Center Road), Green and Calhoun are launching a total wellness service, complete with a medical doctor on staff to administer vitamin B12 and vitamin D shots, and to train the staff on recognizing medical conditions through the hair. “You can see so many things through the hair, like high blood pressure or diabetes,” Green says. “If stylists are aware of that, they can be the first touch.”

Green sees her opportunities—and the opportunities for her trainees—as endless. “Right now, our biggest challenge is getting the word out,” she says.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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