Alumni Spotlight: Nakia Collins, Celebrity Stylist

Many have dreamed of working in the entertainment business with celebrities. For many, it’s a pipe dream. For Nakia Collins, a 2011 graduate of Paul Mitchell the School at MTI College, it’s a reality. Collins is the personal hairstylist for Beyoncé.

Banner of Beyonce Knowles in Vogue magazine

Collins’ path to landing such an exciting job took dedication, hard work and a little bit of luck. At MTI, she studied cosmetology and took outside courses in extensions, hair color and styling. She also had the opportunity to experience Caper, a two-day hands-on event for Paul Mitchell “future professionals” that involves presentations and classroom instruction from top artists and educators in the field. “Caper changed my whole perspective of being a hairstylist and wanting to take my career further as an artist,” she says.

“After graduating MTI, I went to work with Colors Salon and BIA Salon to not only assist but also to learn more in depth about hair,” she says. “[BIA] held free classes on color, cutting and styling and helped mold me into a confident stylist.” She had worked there for nearly three years when she and her husband took a leap of faith and followed their dreams to move to Los Angeles.

Before they left for L.A., Collins did her prep work. “I started watching movies and looking at which hair stylists worked on [celebrities],” she says. “I kept coming across Kim Kimble, so I decided to reach out to her.” Kimble is a celebrity stylist whose clientele includes Kelly Rowland, Nicki Minaj, Mary J. Blige, Halle Berry and Shakira. Kimble granted Collins an interview.

“After almost a year, I was assisting her at her salon in West Hollywood,” Collins says. She worked for Kimble for about three years and then decided to work freelance in film and production on music videos, awards shows, TV shows and more.

From there, Collins worked a few years for Tina Knowles, who introduced her to her daughter – Beyoncé. “I am truly grateful for [Knowles],” she says. “She was a hairstylist as well and has taught me so much about hair. I am very grateful to work with such a humble and loving family.”

Alumni Nakia Collins on Red CarpetWorking with one of the world’s best-known celebrities comes with challenges. “Everyone will see your work, and it’s a love-hate situation, sometimes because the media is really cutthroat,” Collins says. “You just have to love what you do and be open to learning.”

“I would say traveling is one of the best parts of the job and being able to explore creativity with great people,” she says. The traveling, though, creates another challenge: balancing work and family life. “It’s a constant lesson, but it’s possible. “I have two amazing children and a wonderful husband to keep me striving for more.”

Even though Nakia Collins has a wonderful job that she loves, she has other dreams to pursue. “I would love to travel the world and speak to people about not giving up and following their dreams,” she says. “I would also love to create a space for new professionals coming into this industry.”

For anyone considering a career in cosmetology, Collins offers a few words of wisdom. “If it’s something you love, make it work for you. Don’t be scared of failing,” she says. “Some of my biggest failures brought out my best work. After all, when you love what you do it’s not work.”

Are you ready to follow your dreams to become a hairstylist? MTI’s Paul Mitchell the School helps you develop the beauty and cosmetology skills you need for a rewarding career. At Paul Mitchell the School, you’ll learn salon techniques as well as the business fundamentals you’ll need. You’ll learn about marketing, merchandising, client retention and cash flow management. All of that plus small class sizes limited to 16 students and one-on-one attention from your industry-professional instructors will prepare you for the next step: taking the California State Cosmetology Board exam. From there, the sky’s the limit.

Make your dream a reality. Register for the cosmetology program at MTI College today.

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