“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
This iconic William Shakespeare quote aptly sums up what Destiny King’s educational expedition has taught her.
King’s college experience started off a bit rocky. She graduated from high school not having any idea what she wanted to do with her life. As the daughter of two Army veterans—her dad is a Vietnam veteran and her mom is a Desert Storm veteran—King knew she had big shoes to fill. She realized the military was not for her and wasn’t really into the idea of college, but her mother did her best to help.
“She went as far as filling out college applications for me, making sure that I’d be accepted somewhere,” said King.
King started her college career at Cape Fear Community College in her hometown of Wilmington. However, the beach soon became a distraction and after just one year, she left and went across the state. In 2017, she started at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte with plans to transfer to UNC-Charlotte, but the pressure she felt to succeed overwhelmed her and slowly started to consume her. At her wit’s end, she decided to come home once again.
“I guess when you don’t see the end goal, you get lost in the mix and don’t really know what’s going on,” she said.
From 2017 to 2018, King put education on the backburner. She worked at the Estée Lauder counter in Belk and worked as a prestige beauty advisor at Ulta Beauty, which helped her develop knowledge of the cosmetics industry and enabled her to begin building a client base. Meanwhile, her mother convinced her to give Craven Community College (Craven CC) a chance, suggesting that King apply for the college’s esthetics program.
“She kept dropping that dime because I’ve always been into the makeup thing,” said King. “I Googled what an esthetician was and thought, ‘this is it.’ That was when I filled out the application for Craven.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, “esthetics” refers to the appreciation of beauty, and an esthetician specializes in skin care techniques to help people look their best through a variety of cleansing and cosmetic treatments. King admitted to always having an interest in beauty and makeup, although she just considered it a pastime.
“I did not attend prom because I was doing makeup for everyone else,” she said. “It was one of those things where you wonder if you just keep it as a hobby or if you can actually make a living off it.”
She soon discovered the multitude of career possibilities the beauty industry has to offer with the Esthetics Technology program, a subunit of Craven CC’s Career Programs department. The competitive, 16-credit hour certificate program requires an application and interview process due to the limited admission of 12 students per year. The program provides students with hands-on experience in the art of skin care, including basic and electric facials, hair removal and many custom facial principles. Students learn about general health and wellness, cosmetics, basic dermatology, chemistry and anatomy.
Once beginning the program in fall 2018, King was immediately taken by the professional yet maternal manner of instructor Shelby Miller.
“There’s a difference in an instructor and a teacher,” said King. “An instructor will give you instructions, but a teacher will tailor her lesson to every student, and that was what made the difference for us. She met us where we were, and she developed our craft from there. Her having the passion for what she was doing translated to all of us. I saw how she could make this happen, and I thought, ‘I see this, I’m feeling this, I can make this happen too.’”
Her curiosity was originally piqued because of her sole interest in the makeup portion, but she soon discovered the many career possibilities well beyond the scope of makeup applications. “I learned so much more, but it all ties in,” she said. “You can’t talk about makeup unless you talk about skincare.”
Her plan was to graduate, work under a professional, learn from their business techniques and then one day—perhaps 20 years down the road—open her own business. She discovered that the coursework also aided in the business aspect by incorporating instruction in all phases of professional esthetics technology, business and human relations, product knowledge and other related topics.
In addition, Miller’s combination of instructional time with hands-on time allowed the students to quickly grasp different techniques. She gave students the freedom and accountability to make their own appointments, have their own clients and take payments, giving them a taste of being a professional esthetician.
“That was my inspiration for knowing I can do this and actually open a business,” said King.
Through intensive practice, the program prepares students to take the North Carolina Esthetic State Board Licensing Exam. Upon passing, graduates become licensed estheticians with the knowledge to go into careers as an esthetician, skin specialist and platform artist in facilities such as beauty salons, day and resort spas and nursing and other residential care homes. Self-motivated individuals may even decide to look into self-employment, which is exactly what King did.
She graduated from Craven CC’s esthetics program in May 2019. Just one week prior, she came to the decision that there’s no better time than the present to follow her ambitions.
“I was working at Ulta Beauty and using the esthetician license there, but you don’t get to do everything that is covered in your license,” she said. “You either get to wax eyebrows or do facials, but our license covers way more than that. That was when I decided. About a week before graduation, I said ‘yeah, we’re going to do this.’”
Immediately after graduating, she began pursuing resources to get her small business started. She worked with Tyson & Hooks Realty to find an appropriate office space that would be state board approved. She also completed a series of Craven CC’s Small Business Center (SBC) training sessions. The trainings, along with the guidance of SBC Director Deborah Kania, proved extremely advantageous and boosted her business plans.
“Deborah is such a sweet lady and was also very attentive,” said King. “She tailored the list of classes to which ones I could actually benefit from, and that was very helpful.”
She also learned a lot through collaborating with other people who planned to open or had recently opened a small business. They helped each other by exchanging community feedback and ideas.
“If you’re going to start a business here, you would like to know what your peers, prospective clients and customers would want and what they would be geared towards,” said King.
She opened Alluring Destiny on Aug. 3, 2019. The company offers a variety of skincare products and services, including a range of facials such as express, basic, high frequency and chemical peels, as well as body waxing from head to toe, makeup applications and microblading. Microblading is a relatively new beauty procedure that involves a tattooing technique in which a small, handheld tool is used to add semi-permanent pigment to the skin to fill in sparse or thinning eyebrows.
King currently has about 45 clients after just one month of being in business. She hopes to continue networking and growing her small business and plans to stay in New Bern. As of now, she is the sole employee, but she is looking for a certified eyelash technician to join her business.
At just 25 years old, King is following her destiny. Although it was a long and challenging road, her willpower, combined with the guidance she received at Craven CC, gave her the inspiration and self-discipline she needed to push through and succeed.
She believes the nurturing atmosphere of Craven CC and its employees is what made the difference, from Miller’s expertise and passion for the esthetics program to the enthusiastic and eager-to-help presence of Executive Director of Career Programs, Ricky Meadows. Every employee she encountered had a positive demeanor and encouraged her through every step.
“Shelby Miller, from start to finish; whether it be in the classroom or just a text message or a phone call, she was always able to give me answers if I needed them,” said King. “Ricky Meadows was also very attentive. He always said, ‘Destiny, if you need anything, be sure to let me know!’ Whenever I needed something, there wasn’t anybody who told me I can’t do this. It was a very pleasant experience.”
Most of all, she is thankful to have been granted such a unique and fulfilling opportunity. She realized that in order to get anywhere in life, she had to take matters into her own hands and generate her own success. Craven CC was the catalyst that helped her see education from a fresh perspective and shined a light on all the possibilities.
“It was an attainable goal the way it was set up here,” said King. “All the resources were here. If you needed help, you just had to ask for it. There were business classes that were free and open to the public—you didn’t have to be a student here. That was a very good aid for me as well.”
Visit Alluring Destiny at 3400-A Trent Road, alluringdestiny.com or contact 252-675-3984. To follow her lead and pursue a career in a creative, high-demand industry, contact Miller at 252-638-7241 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The esthetics program will accept applications Jan. 1 through June 30, 2020.
This article was originally published in the New Bern Sun Journal on Oct. 2, 2019.