KSLA Salutes: Veteran uses academy to create budding barbers

From pharmacy to cosmetology, veteran helps craft next wave of barbers in the ArkLaTex

BOSSIER CITY, La. (KSLA) - Students are eager to learn inside VH Barber & Styling Academy in Bossier City — and instructors like Vanette Harris are more than willing to help.

Vanette is not only a cosmetology instructor but also the owner of this academy, which opened in 2012.

“I enjoy seeing people grow," she said. "I enjoy helping other people.”

But before Vanette even dreamed of opening a business, or let alone becoming a cosmetology instructor, she was a college student ready for a change.

“I decided I just really didn’t want to do school at that time," she said. “And I did not want to waste my parent’s money because I knew the repercussions for it.”

So on Christmas Eve of 1991, Vanette left her small Mississippi town and headed to boot camp to prepare for the Air Force.

“It was a huge wake-up call," she said. "I had to shower with these people, use the bathroom with these people, sleep with these people, eat with these people and I never got a break from those people.”

However, it was that experience that helped her learn and understand the diversity of our country.

“It taught me to love everybody," she said. "It taught me that I can learn from everybody because I did go in with a blind mindset thinking that if you didn’t think like me you were not intelligent.”

Vanette worked as a pharmacist in the Air Force, but after six years she decided it was time to try something new, and soon the thought of being a cosmetologist crossed her mind.

“My husband and my friend said ‘Whose going to let you do their hair?’ because I wasn’t doing hair," she said. ... So they just laughed at me, but then I decided to pursue it anyway.”

Vanette obtained her cosmetology instructors’ license and then spent 17 years with the Caddo Parish School System. During that time she opened her academy.

For Vanette being a veteran has become another tool for her to serve other veterans in her community.

“Even when they come in as clients or students, they’re really nice people," she said.

With so much more in the works, Vanette’s happy knowing she’s helping others strive for the same independence she’s gained.

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