OPINION

Cosmetology reform is a win-win for Iowa

Kollan Kolthoff is a licensed cosmetologist in the state of Iowa and current student in political science at the University of Iowa.
Kollan Kolthoff is a licensed cosmetologist in the state of Iowa and current student in political science at the University of Iowa.

In Iowa, we’ve seen too many jobs leave our state.

Our economy is changing. As consumers, we’re looking for convenience. It’s easier to order groceries on Amazon, which leads to local markets closing. We don’t need to go to the store to buy clothes, so retailers are pulling out of local malls. Flowers can be ordered with two clicks on an app, so why bother going to the florist on Main Street?

But think about the services you love, which you can’t order through an app or be outsourced — ones you’d go to a brick and mortar store no matter what. I bet not too many come to mind.

What about a haircut? Getting your nails done? A microdermabrasion at the spa? These are all services that require a cosmetology license and are a part of a thriving Beauty Industry here in Iowa.

Iowa plays an important role in the $50.5 billion American beauty industry. Our state posted $430 million in annual beauty revenue last year, while offering more than 4,400 career opportunities. We’re currently home to thousands of salons, stylists, and students. Our industry provides employment opportunities in a challenging economic environment, and it also gives individuals of all backgrounds the ability to start their own business.

I understand that the ongoing battle over the deregulation of the cosmetology licensure structure is being fought across the country as states look to find ways to increase access to the industry, but I’m also aware that leaders from within the industry are uniquely aware that there are problems that need to be addressed.

However, we cannot entertain the idea being floated in some states of removing the need for licensure entirely; this opens a Pandora’s box of problems, placing stylists and the public in harm’s way in an effort to streamline job creation.

Currently, Iowans studying to be cosmetologists face a far greater burden than most individuals looking to enter the field. We must complete 2,100 hours of cosmetology school, compared to neighboring states like Illinois, which require 600 fewer hours of schooling to obtain a license. The excess educational requirement adds unnecessarily to the cost of schooling and can leave an individual with up to $20,000 in student loan debt.

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What Iowa needs is common-sense reform that streamlines the entry process for students, creates flexibility for licensed cosmetologists, and protects consumers against the deregulation of licensed beauty professionals. Cosmetology reform is a win-win for Iowa. It will allow Iowa students and cosmetologists to enter the field with less burden and additional government bureaucracy, and it will keep the public safe.

l Kollan Kolthoff is a licensed cosmetologist in Des Moines.

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