When Niki Johnson became a single mother at sixteen, she wasn’t about to shy away from the profound responsibility of raising her daughter.
Searching for a way to earn an income and always interested in hairstyling and cosmetics by working with her family and friends, Johnson turned that talent into a self-employment opportunity by going to cosmetology school when she was old enough to drive and commute.
Fast forward to 2020, and Johnson opened her first brick-and-mortar salon on High Street in Chestertown, only to be thwarted by the pandemic and like so many businesses, forced to close her doors.
Weathering the pandemic by practicing her trade privately, the young entrepreneur decided to re-open again in Chestertown, naming the salon after her core attitude about life, Confidence Beauty Lounge.
Then, Johnson’s career took a significant turn when she discovered her passion for teaching. She realized she could impact young girls’ lives on a deeper level and that job instruction should address life skills that could serve her students beyond the work environment of the salon.
Johnson realized that imparting her knowledge and skills was where her heart truly belonged.
Obtaining a license to become a senior cosmetology instructor in Maryland marked a new chapter. It led Johnson to establish internship and apprenticeship programs.
“I did my research, and I learned that if you have a registered license in a registered salon in Maryland, and you are a licensed cosmetologist, you can do an apprenticeship, and somebody can work underneath you. That’s how I started to, you know, research and get information. With the interns that I had previously coming in, I was able to then offer them the apprenticeship program,” she says.
Johnson says that internships allow students to see what cosmetology is all about and decide if they want to undertake the 3,000-hour commitment of getting a Maryland cosmetology license. “You don’t see the backside of the job, ‘I have to stand all day long. I may not get a lunch when I’m supposed to,’” she says.
The “Junior Cosmetology Program” held its first class on November 25 with eight interested students aged seven to fifteen.
Johnson says she saw sparks of confidence in the workshop.
“A lot of people, whether you are male or female, whether you’re black or white are lacking confidence and don’t have the ability to stand up tall and know what they want. And so, I reiterate that to them.”
Johnson also sees the internship and apprenticeship programs she offers as a valuable pathway to employment for Kent and Queen Anne’s high school students and is currently working on ways to provide a broader reach for her classes.
The Spy met with Niki Johnson to talk about her life, cosmetology, and her mission to instill confidence in her students.
This video is approximately ten minutes in length. For more information about Confidence Beauty Lounge, see their Facebook page here and their website here or call 443-282-0018. Confidence Beauty Lounge is located at 105 Dixon Drive.