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TRESemmé Launches Fund for Black Aspiring Hair Stylists

"For TRESemmé, it was a no-brainer to say, 'where could we help?' And that we could make this pledge, $100,000, to help women in cosmetology."

This New York Fashion Week, longtime sponsor TRESemmé is launching a scholarship program for Black female hair stylists.

The brand has dedicated $100,000 to the first iteration of the TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund. Ten winners will each receive $10,000 for cosmetology school.

Applicants can apply at between Sept. 9 and Oct. 18. Winners will be selected by a committee that includes Ursula Stephen, celebrity hairstylist and Unilever partner; Abrima Erwiah, cofounder and director of Studio One Eighty Nine and Parsons School of Design faculty member; Rebecca Minkoff, designer and founder of the female founder collective; Leyna Bloom, actress, model and activist; Sandrine Charles, founder of Sandrine Charles Consulting and cofounder of the Black in Fashion Council, and Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of beauty and personal care at Unilever North America.

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“They’ve been calling this the ‘she-session,'” Bracey said, noting that the industries most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic — like hospitality and hair salons — have disproportionately female workforces. “It’s so clear that women of color are often underrepresented in women’s programs, so for TRESemmé, it was a no-brainer to say, ‘where could we help?’ And that we could make this pledge, $100,000, to help women in cosmetology.”

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The idea is to address the cosmetology industry’s barriers to entry — education can run into the tens of thousands of dollars — and to provide stylists with access to the TRESemmé network to further support their careers.

“We have so many platforms that once women have their degrees, we can give them even more exposure and opportunities,” Bracey said. “Why we’re starting at that scale is because we want to remain committed to the women…we want to use our network to really advance investment in Black creators and entrepreneurs.”

The program launches as TRESemmé kicks off its 25th season of NYFW sponsorship. Traditionally, the brand takes stylists backstage to create the hair looks for shows. With this year’s scaled-back NYFW due to COVID-19, TRESemmé stylists have worked with certain designers, including Rodarte and Chromat, to help create hair looks for pre-produced digital shows.

TRESemmé’s lead stylists — Stephen, Justine Marjan and Odile Gilbert — will also create digital hair content from their homes meant to inspire viewers and help them create hair looks at home, the brand said.

Aspiring stylists looking to apply for the brand’s scholarship program will need to submit several pieces of information, including a 60-second video, recommendation letter and work samples. The selection committee is looking for individuals with “capability, passion and commitment and financial need,” Bracey said.

For Unilever, the owner of TRESemmé, the Future Stylists Fund is one of several ongoing initiatives dedicated to women of color. Dove, another Unilever brand, cofounded The CROWN [Creating a Respectful Open World for Natural Hair] Act, which aims to end discrimination related to hair via legislation, and Sundial has a $50 million fund dedicated to investing in businesses owned by women of color, and more recently launched the Social Justice Coalition, which plans to award grants to social activists.

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