Success Always in Style for MATC Cosmetology Graduate

Her shampoos and conditioners being used at Froedtert, sold in stores

Mark Feldmann,

September 29, 2023

Sherrie Williams

MATC taught me a lot. The instructors really took their time with me. I consider my former instructors part of my great support system.

Sherrie Williams MATC Cosmetology graduate

Sherrie Williams is tangled in tresses and tendrils. When it comes to cutting, trimming, snipping and styling hair, her family roots are thick and luxurious. Her son attended cosmetology school. Her aunt is a hairdresser. Her cousin works in a salon. Her two brothers are barbers. Her mother dabbled in styling.

“Hair is in my blood,” said Williams, who was born and raised in Milwaukee.

Williams might be the sharpest of the bunch. She overcame learning disabilities and medical issues to earn a technical diploma in Cosmetology at Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2008. She opened her own salon later that year, then started concocting her own shampoos, conditioners, oils and treatments specifically to treat the natural hair of women, men and children of color.

Today, Williams styles hair and supplies products to a long list of personalities and celebrities, including actress Vivica A. Fox. Her line, called Simplistic B.S.C., includes nearly 30 different products and can be bought at grocery stores and major retailers like Fresh Thyme, Piggly Wiggly and Walmart. Williams also recently announced that Froedtert Health’s network of hospitals and clinics throughout Wisconsin will use her products, making her the first African American in the nation to sell a hair care line to a major hospital.

See coverage about Williams’ deal with Froedtert

“I've known Sherrie from a teenager up until now and the word that describes her best is unstoppable,” said Marlon Lock, pastor of the church Williams attends, the Unity Gospel House of Prayer in Milwaukee. “Out of all the things she's been through, she refuses to not win. Her intentionality is unmatched. I think this is only the beginning. She’s definitely going higher.”

Figuring out her way

Growing up, Williams had a passion for helping others cultivate their unique style. In middle school, she was the girl who did other girls’ hair. “My mother’s kitchen turned into a salon,” she said.

She had a generally happy childhood. In high school, she had a baby when she was 18 years old and another at 19. She was diagnosed with a learning disability and at times struggled with schoolwork. She got into fights. “I was bullied. The fights came from the anger I felt about being bullied,” she recalled.

After getting her diploma from MATC’s Adult High School program, Williams came down with bacterial meningitis. She was still recovering in 2006 when she registered for cosmetology courses at MATC. Although she sometimes got ill, she completed her classes and served her apprenticeship at a Milwaukee salon. In her second year, Williams won the Cosmetology program’s skills award — the first Black woman to receive the honor.

“While in school, she always gave her best – being present, on time, completing assignments,” recalled Kara Walker, a barber cosmetologist instructor at MATC since 2004. “It was always her goal to be successful in the beauty industry.”

Launching her career

Williams got married in 2009 and opened her own salon on 78th and Burleigh streets in 2010. She later moved to 67th Street and Brown Deer Road before settling into her current location at 138th Street and Capitol Drive in Brookfield. While styling, shaping and cutting, she started to experiment with shampoos and conditioners.

“I never paid much attention to shampoo until I was in school. MATC taught me the difference between products. I started to read the ingredients to see what worked and what didn’t work,” she said. “I started mixing my own and customers started buying it. I began to think I was onto something and it just exploded.”

In 2018, with assistance and advice from her mentors Celeste Cuffie and  Katina Washington, she started her company to sell her products to individual customers and area businesses. 

Williams considers herself a guide to women and young girls, especially of color, to help them learn how to be comfortable with their natural, textured hair, which can be a struggle to keep clean, conditioned and healthy. With an experienced, expert eye, she can break down almost anyone’s hair, diagnose issues and suggest solutions. 

“Knowing what you put on your hair is the same as knowing what you put in your body while eating,” Williams said. “When you’re young, hair grows at a fast rate. As you get older, it slows down and you need different things in it to stay healthy — protein, iron, vitamins. My products deliver all that.”

Williams offers her expertise to mothers and children at free classes in the community. She has held events for the past several years at the Temple of the Holy Spirit, a church in Milwaukee. She provides tips on managing and maintaining healthy hair, and encourages everyone to be proud of their style. From her high school days, she knows all too well that a bad hairstyle can bring on bullies.

“Sherrie is an awesome, creative, innovative woman,” said Gloria Tatum, pastor at the Temple of the Holy Spirit. “What she does with these young girls is amazing. She seems to know their mind and sensitivities. When she’s here, you can see they feel better about themselves. You can see the smiles on their faces.”

Formulating her future

For Williams, the future seems full of smiles. She plans to continue her community outreach and keep advocating for hair health. She serves on MATC’s Barber and Cosmetology Advisory Committee, reviewing the courses offered by the college to ensure they meet the needs of employers.

She will keep working to place her products in more retail locations and attract more corporate customers. She also wants to go out and speak about her business journey with other budding entrepreneurs. 

When it comes to hair and hair products, MATC’s Walker doubts that Williams will ever have a bad day.

“Sherrie has soared in many ways. Her personality is very outgoing, bubbly and personable. I don't think that she has ever met a stranger and every person that she encounters would definitely remember her,” Walker said. “I know that there is more in store for her.” 

Williams credits her technical college education and a loving family support system for her success. “MATC taught me a lot. The instructors really took their time with me,” Williams said. “I consider my former instructors part of my great support system, along with my husband, Tony, my mom, my sisters Lashon and Michelle, my brother Donnie, my sons, my cousin Georgia and my extended family in Indianapolis.

“The team I have is just tremendous,” she added. “Thanks to them I am on the road to success and this is just the beginning.” 

Learn more about MATC’s Cosmetology program

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 28,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 180 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.