MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The owner of a hair salon in Bartlett is taking what she learned behind the chair and moving in front of the classroom.

Three years strong, Pressed hair salon in Bartlett is thriving. Reba Sanford said owning Pressed has not always been smooth.

“As soon as things started flowing right–COVID hit. So I had to shut down for a period of time and went through a slow phase. But business has been good lately,” she said.

Before becoming a salon owner, Sanford was a student. She was one of the first students in 2016 to graduate from the Institute of Beauty, Tennessee’s first natural hair care school.

“We were so to say the pilot class, so everything was new,” she said. “Going through that program was the foundation for me to be able to become a business owner, so it was a door opener for me.”

Now, the school has helped hundreds jumpstart careers in the natural hair industry. Women like Kiera Hardville who is now almost halfway through the 15-week program. She is one step closer to taking the Natural Hairstylist State Board Exam and earning her license.

“The experience has been great for me. I love it. Didn’t know anything like this existed until literally scrolling on social media. I didn’t know anything like natural hair care existed,” Hardville said.

Not only does it exist, but it’s expanding.

“I can remember being in class and joking and saying I am going to own my own school one day,” Stanford said.

And that’s exactly what she did. Sanford is opening her own franchise of IOB in Jackson, Tennessee.

“I think that’s awesome and it’s going to change a lot for Jackson, Tennessee,” Hardville said.

“A lot of times we get stuck behind the chair. You don’t have to be behind the chair. The chair can be your foundation and you have so many avenues you can tackle,” Sanford said.