Empower me: Beauty institute founder, director launches makeup, skincare line
When the going got tough, Shimika Kennison found that beauty not only helped her survive, it propelled her to thrive.
Kennison started Entourage Institute of Beauty & Esthetics in 2008 after receiving her advanced education at Sassoon Academy in Los Angeles and Redken Exchange in New York City. Her vision was to create a cutting-edge beauty institute in Kansas City where aspiring cosmetologists would receive a comprehensive education, be empowered to set trends and offer innovative services.
“We are putting out the top 10 percent of the industry,” Kennison says.
Her desire to help and inspire people helped her define her dream of starting the institute. “I’ve always loved helping people and started thinking about what I could do as a career where I could help and educate people,” she says.
Though Kennison describes herself as a tomboy before she entered the beauty industry, she says she always had an interest in business and being artistic. The brightly hued, modern salon and institute is filled with her creative flair, from state-of-the-art equipment to inspirational sayings on the walls.
But a decade ago, she was the one who needed help. After having several miscarriages and feeling constantly fatigued, Kennison was diagnosed with lupus. A chronic autoimmune disease, lupus causes the body’s immune system to attack its own organs and tissue. The immune system can no longer differentiate between bacteria, viruses, and its own cells and tissue. There is no cure, but early diagnosis and proper medical treatment can significantly help control the disease and its symptoms.
For Kennison, having lupus doesn’t define her or hinder her drive to succeed. “It does bother me, but what am I suppose to do? Sit around and feel sorry for myself? I try to reduce my stress levels, eat right and take care of myself.”
Kennison says her faith in God has saved her from feeling overwhelmed by the disease, as has the constant support from her husband, former Kansas City Chiefs football player Eddie Kennison. “I have a great husband, I don’t know what I would do or where I would be without him,” Kennison says.
Her sons, Karrington, 13, and Jisiah, 9, also have learned about how to help take care of their mom by watching Eddie. “Now they know when I’m having a rough day. and they will help get a bath ready for me. It’s really sweet,” she says.
Taking her love of cosmetology one step further, Kennison just launched her own makeup and skincare line, EmpowerMe by Shimkia Kennison. EmpowerMe products are naturally based, vitamin-enriched, and range from lip gloss to exfoliating scrubs.
“This line is for women who love luxury,” Kennison says. “It’s mineral-based and we have something for every woman. We have neutral colors for a daytime look and also bright, trendy colors that will change with seasons, and something to wear for a Friday night out.”
Some of Kennison’s personal favorites are the 24k gold anti-aging suspension with flecks of real gold, the pineapple enzyme scrub and the moisture-rich lip gloss. Cleansers, toners and moisturizers can be purchased individually or in packages of three or five. Kennison says she wanted to start her own line of products that would be available for women who love to celebrate themselves and have fun with their beauty products.
She also is planning to launch a YouTube channel dedicated to her product line with demonstration videos and beauty tips.
The extra bonus of her beauty line is that a portion of the proceeds go to the Alliance for Lupus Research, a national, voluntary health organization dedicated to finding better treatments to ultimately prevent and cure lupus.
Ever the entrepreneur, Kennison hints that she has even more projects in the works. “I’m a passionate person, and I love working with people and brainstorming about new projects,” she says. “Working with the students and seeing them succeed is one of the best parts of my job. … I feel so blessed to do what I’m doing.”
Entourage Institute of Beauty & Esthetics, 12004 W. 95th St., Lenexa, Kan., is open Monday through Saturday. EmpowerMe skincare and beauty products are available at the institute or online at shimikakennison.com
Photography by Brooke Vandever
The Second Annual Eddie Kennison Festival of Food and Fun will take place June 25 at Lakeview Village in Lenexa, featuring food and wine tastings from area restaurants, live musical entertainment, and silent and live auctions. All proceeds will benefit the Alliance for Lupus Research. For more information, visit eddiekennisonfoundation.com