2019 was a big year for non- profit founder, and colorist, Adrienne Small.
She had always had a passion for education, but the big goal was to tap into professionals. She created a yearly event called, Beyond the Chair Symposium in 2015 that gave local professionals the opportunity to receive look and learn as well as hands on classes in every aspect of the beauty industry. Basically, if you had to have a license for it, she had an educator there to teach it!
Everything was going great until she realized that although she had an amazing circle of stylist that supported everything she did, the passion she held for the type of education she offered, didn't translate well with most of her peers. It was at this moment she knew she had to pivot.
In January of 2019, Adrienne was invited to Overton High School (Memphis, TN) for their career day. She quickly realized that professionals were not her calling at all, but it was FUTURE professionals that she should have been paying attention to all along. The ones who were hungry and ready to soak up every bit of this industry even before they hit beauty school, and that's exactly what she did!
Adrienne spent every single month of 2019 speaking at career days and conferences specifically for high schoolers just to see what the demand was for classes outside of what they may have already been receiving.
She realized that so many young girls were just like her at that age and had a natural talent and love for all things beauty. Some were already taking advantage of the free cosmetology program at their school, but most were not because either their school didn't offer it, or their parents didn't deem it important enough to take the program.
By February of 2019, even while planning a 4 day symposium set for August of that year, Adrienne decided to add to her plate and create a symposium specifically for high schoolers.
In June of 2019, she welcomed 50 teenagers to her 2 day summer camp where they not only learned braiding, wig making, makeup, natural hair styling, and lash extensions, they also took business workshops that stressed the importance of finances, marketing, and branding. She even taught them the first steps to creating and pitching their businesses where they were also challenged to stand in front of business owners and marketing execs to pitch the businesses they had just created for the chance to win full scholarships to beauty school!
Because of the opportunities Adrienne received to partner with so many beauty professionals and brands, she was able to award over $8, 000 in scholarships and prizes to almost every single attendee. At this point, she knew she had found her true calling and there was no where to go but up from here!
January 2020, plans were underway for the 2nd annual summer camp. Because of the amazing response received from the previous year, the 2 day camp had now become a 4 day camp with new classes and new mentors! Curriculums had been made, but by March, in comes a whole global pandemic! Shutting down the world and everything we knew to be normal was no longer allowed. The camp was set to take place in June, just as last year, but now there was no way to welcome 50 excited future beauty gurus physically in the midst of a global shut down.
By May, Adrienne called on her tried and true mentors from the previous summer camp, along with a few new ones, they set the date for the end of July and they worked out a plan to take it virtual! Nothing was to change but the way it was presented. They still went hands on, and they still made sure each attendee had every supply she would have normally had they met in person.
The blessing behind the pandemic was that no money donated to the foundation for the summer camp had to go toward renting a venue, or providing breakfast and lunch for all 4 days ( the biggest expenses), and they were able to put that money towards their scholarship fund. More on that later.
Because it was so important that the experience remained the same, Adrienne and the mentors of the foundation went through great lengths making sure nothing was held back. Including getting them their supplies.
With the help of a black owned beauty supply named The Girl Cave- LA, located in Compton, CA, the owner Ashli Brown, donated more than half of the supplies to ensure all 50 attendees had everything they needed. This was the biggest burden lifted off of their shoulders as more blessings flooded the foundations account to help pay for the remainder of their supplies and workbooks.
The goal was to only have the attendees pay for the cost of shipping their kits and their camp t-shirt, and that is exactly how it all worked out!
From May 2020 - July 2020, Beyond the Chair Foundation had obtained more than $18,000 in scholarships, prizes, and donations to be awarded to the camp winners. This doubled their previous years donations, more than 20 girls were sponsored to attend, and this was done in the middle of a global pandemic! God knew exactly what these girls needed and there was nothing standing in the way of making sure they received it!
On behalf of Adrienne Small, the mentors, and every single girlpreneur from 2019,2020, and beyond... Thank you! Thank you for believing in the vision of what is now known as The Adrienne Small Foundation, and seeing in these girls what they see in themselves. This industry is always looked at as less than or a last resort to a college education, but what most fail to realize is what we do requires so much more than what people see on the outside.
Taking these girls in and nurturing their talents and gifts before they even hit cosmetology school shifts their mindsets so they can see that this industry offers an abundance of tools for them to succeed.
The Adrienne Small Foundation is now a year round program and mentors and donations, whether financial or in kind, are always needed. If you would like to partner with us, please click HERE to do so!
Again, Thank You!