Removing 1 regulation lets entrepreneur gain career success

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Wire.]

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By Brett Kittredge
Real Clear Wire

Five years ago, Karrece Stewart began to see how she could develop her passion for makeup into a career.

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Makeup is something that Karrece has been working on most of her life.

Karrece spent her years as a young girl at the feet of her grandmothers watching them apply makeup. She followed that passion. Through her study, she was able to learn shading, highlighting, contouring, and makeup application based on complexion and also based on the shape of the eyes. Today, after years of practice, including courses where she learned application technique, cleanliness, and other skills, Karrece is a developed makeup artist.

Karrece had dreams, but the state got in the way.

For years, my home state of Mississippi required makeup artists to acquire either a cosmetology or estheticians license, which takes up to 1,500 hours. The courses would teach Karrece a lot of things she didn’t need and very few that would actually help her. A busy mom, Karrece didn’t have the time or money for a commitment that wouldn’t even help her.

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But after multiple lawsuits were filed, the state legislature voted to exempt makeup artists, as well as eyebrow threaders and those that apply eyelash extensions, from licensing laws last year. These practices are extremely safe and do not involve cutting, coloring, or chemically treating hair.

The result? Entrepreneurs like Karrece are now working, supporting their family, and their community.

“I am able to do what I love,” Karrece recently told us. “I’m able to get out there and use my gift. My vision for my business has come to pass and it is amazing to be able to help women and empower them to know that their beauty is as flawless as their spirit. That’s my mission.”

Karrece is in the process of launching a makeup line, doing video tutorials on makeup application on her social media accounts, and offering makeup services to those in her community. Currently, she has five products available online and in her studio, with plans for more.

“Now, the sky is the limit. I’m looking at all the things I can do with this business, and it’s very exciting,” she added.

This isn’t the first time Mississippi has freed beauty workers. In 2005, the Mississippi legislature voted to set hair braiders free of unnecessary and irrelevant cosmetology regulations.

Because of this change, there are more than 6,700 hair braiders legally working in Mississippi. Lawmakers go out of the way to say they are creating jobs or creating the right atmosphere for job growth. They often have a lot of grand plans, but as we saw with hair braiders it is often one small change where the government steps back, lets entrepreneurs pursue their dreams, and the market follows.

How else do we know this works?

We can look to Mississippi’s southern neighbors. In Louisiana, which still licenses hair braiders, the state only had 19 registered braiders as of 2019 — even though Louisiana has both a larger Black population and African immigrant population than Mississippi.

Mississippi was keeping people from working because of unnecessary regulations. Louisiana still is.

And for the record, there have been zero complaints with the health department over the 17 years of unlicensed hair braiders in Mississippi.

But with nearly 25 percent of occupations nationwide requiring an occupational license, we know more work is needed in every state. Although it has become the default, occupational licensing is not the only form of regulation that can be used to ensure quality of services. Policymakers have a range of alternatives, from market competition to inspections to certifications, that can be tailored to the specific harms licensing is currently being used to address.

With many businesses struggling to find workers, we should make it easier for people to work. We have the model of freeing entrepreneurs. We just need to expand it.

Brett Kittredge is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Empower Mississippi.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolicy and made available via RealClearWire.

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