It usually can take a life time for some people to find their passion in life. However, for the social entrepreneur Coral Lahiani, she knew at the tender age of four-years-old. According to the native Hype Parker she received a beauty station as a present complete with a chair, mirror, comb and a hair brush.
Her first client was her three-year-old niece who had “massive hair” says Lahiani. “We found some scissors and I cut her bangs,” she states. “I was hooked from that day forward.” She recalls how they both got in trouble, but it didn’t deter her from wanting to be a – beautician – old school terminology used to describe cosmetologist for those new to the industry.
Using her God-given talents, by the age of nine Lahiani had scored her first weekly paying customer – her downstairs neighbor – Ms. Johnson. Watching Coral comb, brush and braid her dolls hair, Ms Johnson one day asked Coral: “Can you do that to my hair?”
Driven by the dream in her heart and the passion to create with her hands, Lahiani enthusiastically responded, “yeah!” Ms. Johnson paid her budding hair dresser “five dollars every week to shampoo and condition her hair, oil her scalp and braid her hair. One time she brought some bright colored yarn and I braided it into her hair.” Looking back, it was therapeutic to have me playing in her hair, says Lahiani.
The experience proved priceless and wet Lahiani’s appetite to become a stylist setting her on a trajectory that would change her life forever.
Tracye Eileen Smith, a long term client commenting on Lahiani’s dedication said: “Finding a good stylist that you can trust, that knows your hair and provides good services in a professional environment is often rare.”
Coral, she states has always been interested in raising the standards of care and professionalism in the salon industry Smith confesses.
Journey to the Institute for Advanced Cosmetology
A graduate of – Wilfred Academy (Oak Park) – the now historic school helped lay the foundation to land Lahiani her first gig working for Bernard Johnson – son of the Chicago Ultra Sheen dynasty – working as his assistant.
After years of hard work and building a loyal clientele, Lahiani opened her first hair salon Good Hair Daze in 1995, at 1713 E. 55th Street in Hyde Park.
Now celebrating her 30th year in the beauty industry (1986 – 2016), Lahiani recently held a soft opening for her highly anticipated Coral Lahiani Institute for Advanced Cosmetology. Partnering with the University of Chicago Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the entrepreneur’s vision which started in her childhood appears to have come full circle.
The goal of the institute is to “develop new talent,” she shares. Considered by some of her peers to be a “talent curator” the Institute’s primary focus will be young stylist, thirty and under with less than five years of experience on their bios.
“These are the ones most curious in the industry,” she says, before quickly pointing out that there were all ages present at her most recent color class. A sold out audience participated in the highly desired basics of color class hosted by Cosmetologist Chicago, one of the oldest cosmetology associations in the U.S.
Also, a substantial part of the institute’s goal will be community engagement she shares, focusing on issues that clients might find themselves affected by like violence prevention, health awareness and mentoring youth, all of which Lahiani is equally familiar and passionate about.
Toi Smith, a 19-year client envisions the Institute engaging the community by helping teenaged girls prepare for prom. “The Institute could offer complimentary services to a select number of girls based on self-awareness and educational goals developed by the Institute,” she says to address self-esteem issues that some girls start struggling with early on in life.
In the words of the famous humanitarian Harriet Tubman “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
The Coral Lahiani Institute for Advanced Cosmetology and website officially launches in Jan. 2017. For more information, contact Coral Lahiani at http://corallahiani.com/