Ntcharba Chabi is a hair braider trying to earn an honest living by running Blanca’s Braids in Garden City. After a competitor complained that Chabi was not properly licensed, she received a “cease and desist” letter from the state and was charged a fine. Why? Because her shop had a shampoo bowl, and shampooing hair in Michigan requires a cosmetology license. Getting the license requires 1,500 hours of training, hundreds of dollars in fees, and taking a test.
Stephanie Brown owns a highly rated salon in Kalamazoo, which also specializes in hair braiding. A nearby competitor complained to the state that one of her employees was washing clients’ hair but did not have a license to practice cosmetology. “All it takes is someone who doesn’t like you and then there goes your business,” Brown said. The employee has since left, but Brown is still stuck paying the fines. The typical salon worker makes an annual salary of less than $25,000 per year but is required to take training that involves 25 times the hours that residential homebuilders must take.
Austin Loose owes thousands of dollars for schooling and testing for an education he will never use. While other states allow massage therapists to work without government-mandated training, Michigan requires 500 hours and passing a test. Austin and his twin brother Login went to school and graduated together, but Austin has a learning disability and could not pass the test. Login got his license, but Austin is stuck workinglower-paid jobs.
Dr. Jan Pol is a veterinarian in rural Michigan who once starred in a reality TV show on a National Geographic channel. An out-of-state vet reported him for not wearing the proper surgical attire and failing to provide a warming pad for a dog. This stemmed from an incident where Pol saved the life of a dog which had been hit by a car, even though there were no complaints from the dog’s owners. Still, the state licensing board hit him with a fine and probation and tried to take his license from him before a court intervened.
Mike Grennan is a carpenter and Laurence Reuben a nurse. For both, their past criminal activity restricts them from getting a license in their fields. Grennan can work for other people or on jobs billed for less than a certain amount of money, but he can’t work for himself. Reuben has a low-level felony conviction from New York state, but he went through a rehabilitation program and was legally working as a licensed nurse there. But when he moved to Michigan, the state denied him a license because of his criminal record.