This image shows a picture of Zana Cook, a black stylist featured during black history month.

Black History Month Weekly Features: Meet Zana Cook
EBS' Black History Month Celebration: An Interview with Zana Cook

At EBS, it’s one of our missions to honor those who paved the way in the beauty industry. We proudly recognize that beauty–the industry, the practice of, and the creativity surrounding it, would be nothing without the Black men and women who pioneered and innovated the beauty business along the way.

This month– in honor of Black achievement and Black History Month–we’re reflecting on the successes and accolades of those pioneers within the cosmetology industry. That’s why we’re featuring an exclusive interview each month with an EBS customer whose success, drive, and ambition have led them to a phenomenal career in the beauty industry. 

We’ll be featuring insight, interviews, advice, and guidance from ambitious, successful, and admirable Black cosmetologists in the industry–all of whom happen to be part of our EBS community. 

Here’s a little more information about the format. Each week for the entire month of February, we’ll share an exclusive Q&A-style interview with members of the EBS community who have taken their passion, success, and achievements to new heights.

You’ll hear their stories, learn about their lives, glean insight, and even figure out how they plan to memorialize and honor Black History month this year. 

Ready to meet this week’s featured guest? We knew it. Keep reading to meet Zana Cook–associate program leader, owner of Z Chic Salon, educator, and badass within the beauty industry.

Meet Zana Cook: Educator, Salon Owner, & EBS Customer 

Zana Cook knew from the time she was in elementary school that her career, in some way, would revolve around hair.

As soon as she was old enough to learn how to do her own hair, she became a master. But doing her own hair quickly evolved into something bigger–suddenly, she was doing everyone else’s hair, too. By the time high school rolled around, she knew this meant something–she had a lucrative business in her grasp, and it was time to get a plan together.

Fast forward to now, Zana is a successful salon owner, educator, and advocate for young stylists who are trying to make their way into the cosmetology world. Her salon, Z Chic Salon, doesn’t just specialize in balayage and luxury extensions–it’s also a learning environment for young stylists fresh in the industry.

Zana offers hands-on education opportunities through her associate's program and offers  free education for ambitious stylists in the industry.
Zana's models show off their extensions at her salon, Z Salon.

Our Exclusive Q&A With Zana Cook 

What has been the most impactful moment in your career so far?

Honestly, my biggest impactful moment or most successful moment is not even about me. It’s about the people I’m able to grow. It’s about watching their growth based on the fact that I’m leading them. It makes me feel like I’m making an impact or making a difference. That’s what keeps me going. I’m proud of myself for that. 

What would you say is the thing you most love and enjoy about the industry? 

I love to learn, myself. I’m always taking classes. I started off as an assistant in a salon and worked at multiple salons as an assistant.

That’s how much I enjoyed working. I could get more; I get more–I’m not ready; I need to know more. They had to kick me out! They were like, “Zana, you have to go!”

But I really enjoy learning. But the thing I enjoy as a hair stylist, as a professional, is hair color. Balayage is my favorite thing to do, and it’s one of the things I love the most. It’s creative and relaxing–it’s like painting hair all day. It allows me to be super techy and nerdy but creative at the same time. I love that balance. 

How do you feel about the representation of Black beauty pros in the world today? How has that impacted you directly?

I think that, well, I’m in Atlanta, and Atlanta is filled with Black hairstylists. There’s a salon suite on every corner. I love that for us. I love that we’re creating opportunities for ourselves and a large community for ourselves.

But I do feel like there’s been an ignorance of the upcoming professionals in the industry–the ones who don’t have clientele or experience or they don’t have a niche–they’re lost. I think that Madame CJ Walker is a pioneer–she did a great job of making us want to get rich and make a living. But there’s still an opportunity to work more together. A lot of us have the mentality of every man for himself, but that’s just not something I value. 

I value guest retention and employee retention. Sometimes, Black salons have a bad reputation for high-revolving door for keeping employees and guests because there’s not a consistent standard for guest experience or training. 

An image of Z Salon is shown, Zana Cook's own salon.

On top of being misclassified, you’re supposed to come into a salon with your own clientele, and own skill set, and not expect anyone to teach anything, and give away a percentage of it. We don’t know enough about the industry, as newcomers, and we don’t know about investing in our future. That’s something I’m trying to bridge the gap in as a Black business owner and salon owner. 

Where do you feel you’ve seen the most growth in the beauty world for Black beauty pros? Where has there been an area of growth that encouraged you to look deeper into techniques and niches?

I’d say extensions. Because every year we’re coming out with new methods. Recently, we had a craze and tape-ins and everything. There are all these things we’re learning. I’ve seen the growth in that. A lot of us are getting back to wearing natural hair and getting away from relaxers and embracing our textures. 

I think that’s something that makes me think of an ideal clientele. They want to embrace their natural hair with enhancements. I love hair color and luxury extensions.

A long time ago when hair extensions came out, there were so many Black women trying to make their hair straighter to blend with them–but not we have different textures and embrace our textures naturally. 

We’re not trying to conform to old American standards of beauty with just straight hair without texture. The versatility is really beautiful. 

What are some ways that the beauty industry can encourage more black beauty pros to enter the beauty industry? 

I think that we encourage other Black professionals to enter the beauty industry by bringing more awareness to financial literacy. In cosmetology school, it needs to be discussed more. There are too many students coming out of school who have no idea that there’s a 70% failure rate for salons. 

There’s a 75% failure rate for salon suites. They aren’t taught what it takes to run a business. But so many of us are entering into our own businesses; I think there needs to be more conversations and education about profitability. 

I want school to talk about the differences between being in a suite, being on commission, or running your own suite. It’s not a cookie-cutter industry. If people were less scared, they’d be more apt to enter the industry. 

How are you celebrating and acknowledging Black History Month?

I feel like I celebrate Black History Month every day. We like to pay homage to our pioneers in the beauty industry. Just paying homage to the African American salon leaders that have inspired us to become these hustlers and these money-getters and these business owners. 

The idea comes from being inspired. Recognizing those that inspired us and paved the way for us to get where we are today is really important to me.

I like to delve deeper into that during Black History Month. I didn’t have people around me as a little girl who had their own salon–especially Black women. I see a lot more of it now. It wasn’t something I saw growing up. 

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