Student finds fulfillment for passion for visual arts in cosmetology program

A photo of Marcus Brooks

Ella Fitzgerald said, “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Marcus Brooks is a testament to that statement. After working in a variety of occupations after high school, Brooks realized that none of the jobs he had held fulfilled his passion for visual arts. His pursuit to do what he loved led him to the cosmetology program at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville where he’s not only found an outlet for his artistic expression but he’s also gaining knowledge that is helping him further develop his natural, homemade beard and hair care products.

Brooks, the youngest of three siblings, grew up in Newport. After graduating high school in 2008, he made the leap from his small hometown to the metropolitan city of Atlanta, Ga. to attend design school. “I studied men’s wear fashion design for a couple of semesters, but a degree wasn’t really necessary to get into that field. Artistically, it wasn’t where I needed to be. I decided I if I was going to get a college degree, I wanted it to be more applicable,” Brooks said.

He spent his early 20’s in Atlanta before he decided to move back home. He earned his associate’s degree in liberal arts from Arkansas State University-Newport. Brooks worked as a teacher’s assistant, a case manager at an outpatient mental health facility, and is currently employed in patient registration in the emergency room at Harris Hospital in Newport.

“But I’ve not been passionate about any of those jobs. I wasn’t doing what made me happy. All throughout my work experience, even in design school, everyone was always asking me what I use in my hair. Even my barber asks me. I make my own beard pomade. I mix it up in my kitchen,” Brooks said. “So that’s how I got here. I started looking for cosmetology schools that were close to home. I’m very happy I’m here. It’s very affordable, and my instructors are great. It works well for me.”

Brooks said he’s interested in specifically studying men’s hairstyles. He said he’s often asked why he chose cosmetology instead of attending a barbering school. “I’m getting much more detailed instruction here than I would in a barber school. My favorite thing right now is learning about different hair textures. We’re also learning about skin diseases and how to help care for those, which interests me because my beard balm helps with skin issues. I use it on both my beard and my hair. It helps with dry scalp. It’s very versatile, and it’s all-natural,” Brooks said.

Brooks said in five years he’s sees himself with a loyal clientele, a large online following of customers, and hopes to have his beard and hair care products on shelves in stores like Target and Walmart.

Brooks said he would encourage more men to consider cosmetology as a career option. “I know there is a stigma that this is a feminine career, but you can focus on whatever area interests you. If you want to do only men’s cuts, you can do that. I love that the instructors here listen to what you are interested in and guide you in the direction you want to go.”