“Do your research. Follow your heart. Believe it’s possible…” Theresa Mosley

In the early 2000s, Theresa Mosley went to a local salon. There she was told, “We don’t do hair like yours.” Although she harbors no hard feelings toward the salon’s employees—they simply lacked the knowledge and skill to work with her hair—this experience planted the seed for what would later become Mosley’s School of Cosmetology.

Mosley’s School of Cosmetology is the only African American-owned cosmetology school in the Grand Rapids area. Her business opened to the public in April of 2017 where it boasts 33 current students and 22 graduates to date.

“I’ve always had the heart of an entrepreneur,” Theresa says, but she remembers the lack of encouragement she encountered when she talked about opening her own salon or school back when she was attending cosmetology school. “There was no way I was going to let anyone stop me. It made me certain that I would encourage others, and my students, to be entrepreneurs too.”

Theresa wanted to create a diverse school, open to everyone, that taught students to be able to care for every type of hair that walked through the door. In almost every cosmetology class, they focus one or two weeks on kinky, curly, and textured hair, ensuring a large part of the underserved Western Michigan community can be served.

Of course, it took time. While Theresa was working on the plans to open her school and earn her hours to become a licensed instructor for cosmetology, she attended Cornerstone University.

Partnerships Make Things Possible

Any school needs to be accredited by the Department of Education to allow students to get Pell grants, loans, and other funding. Without that accreditation, which usually takes about four years to earn, students must pay privately or go through personal loans—a challenge for nearly every student going to college.

Theresa acquired the International Cosmetology School in GR in her first month of business, where she held classes for a year. With her goal always being to move back to her space in Kentwood, she did exactly that.

There, she’s been able to secure build outs and add tons more room to her space. This includes a classroom, a nail training studio, 12 hair stations, manicure/pedicure stations, and of course supplies and storage space.

The GROW Connection

Of course, funding a new business comes with challenges, and that’s where GROW’s lending programs came in.

“I was young and I didn’t have a lot of collateral or credit to establish a letter of credit with a local bank,” Theresa says. “I heard about GROW through a woman from church and from a local bank, so I reached out.” She attended Intro to GROW, took some additional classes including GROW Connects workshops: Pitch Perfection and Planning for a Healthy Business, some one-on-one counseling sessions with the Business Development Officers.

Later Mosley received a microloan to establish her LOC that would satisfy the Department of Education requirements. She knows she would not be where she is without GROW’s help—with a stellar cosmetology school, Hair Hope, a program for women to learn to care for kids with kinky, curly hair, and a radio show on Magic 104.9 where she talks health, fashion, and beauty every Saturday from 2-4pm.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

“Do your research. Follow your heart. Believe it’s possible,” she says. “Every time I hit a bump in the road or a possible roadblock, there are always people around me who support me, connect me to other resources, and help keep me going.”

Mosley’s School of Cosmetology is looking to add 40 students this year, and new students can enroll each and every month. For more details about enrollment, head to the school’s website and connect with them on social media, too!