When TeQuilla Williams-Holloway was a young girl growing up in the Atlanta Street apartments in Gainesville, she didn’t ask for much from her parents, Joyce Williams and Ronnie Childers. But in her mind, she never believed she couldn’t have everything she wanted. She just had to work hard the same way her parents did in order to get it.
Her father worked in construction and was a concrete finisher. Though he’s deceased now, he taught Williams-Holloway the tools of the trade when she was young and that mentality has always stuck with her.
“They instilled the fact that you had to work,” Williams-Holloway said. “If I didn’t work for what I wanted, or if I did not have goals, it would be hard for me to realize what level I was on and how far I could actually go in life.”
That may be why she’s been successful at getting the company she started, Funtology Fundamentals, to where it is today, and as host to the first-ever National Funtology & Barbertology Society Awards Banquet last Tuesday.
Funtology is described as an “interactive cosmetology, barbering, nails and skin care program for students attending after-school programs.” Williams-Holloway said she kind of stumbled upon the business after what she thought might be a setback.
The Hair School, where she was teaching cosmetology in Decatur, closed without notice. She was told it would open again, so she decided to become a substitute teacher in the Gainesville School System to fill the gap.
“I thought I was only going to do high school, because I had always taught adults,” Williams-Holloway said. “But I found my passion with little kids, like third-graders through fifth-graders.”
She brought a mannequin to school one day and the students loved it. That’s when it finally clicked — she realized she could combine her passion for children and teaching cosmetology into one career.
It was just volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club to begin with, but once they had the funds to have her come regularly, she jumped on it.
“I never had a dream of Funtology,” Williams-Holloway said. “I woke up to Funtology.”
Now she’s grown it from that one Boys and Girls Club to 50 facilities across 10 states, including the Barack Obama School of Leadership and STEM, in just over three years.
What makes Funtology special and different from cosmetology school is the actual academic application. Williams-Holloway has created a curriculum for students to learn geometry when using rollers in hair, math when dividing hair in different parts and even anatomy as they look at faces.
Those different lessons help students understand how to work with hair and relate to what they learn in school. And though they’re being taught during after-school hours, they enjoy it.
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“I like to actually do the hair and learn different techniques,” said ChaNaiya Thomas, a freshman at East Hall High School who has been a part of the program since she entered middle school.
Once Williams-Holloway started the program, she realized the true need for something like Funtology. And that’s what makes it worth it. She wants to simply teach students a skill early on in life so they can build confidence as they go through school.
Now she’s ready to take it further than it has ever been.
“My goal is to branch out and conquer the world,” Williams-Holloway said. “So that Funtology is not just known, but appreciated and loved everywhere it spreads.”