African hair braiding is a traditional beauty technique that, while popular today, has been used in the African American community for many years to help manage and care for women’s hair.
Isis Brantley, owner of Ancestral braiding in Dallas, Texas, has been using African hair braiding techniques for over 20 years. However, confusion over licensing for the braiding techniques has caused significant problems for Brantley over the past two decades, and it is only in the last month that Texas legislators found no other option but to support her.
It began in 1997, when Brantley was arrested for braiding without a license, even though the braiding techniques she uses are not taught in cosmetology schools through which she was required to receive licensing. She fought until 2007 to have the law changed allowing her to get licensed and open a salon.
However, when Brantley attempted to open a school that would allow her to teach hair braiding techniques, she once again met opposition from law enforcement. She was stopped and told that she would be required to build a 2,000 square foot school with sinks and reclining chairs, space and equipment that are not necessary for the hands only hair braiding.
Earlier in the year, a federal judge ruled that Brantley could teach hair braiding without having to set up a barber college and without licensing, requirements that the judge deemed both unreasonable and irrational.
As a result, legislators are now working to change the wording of the current law to deregulate hair braiding and allow Brantley to teach her techniques unopposed. After 20 years of waiting, Brantley will finally be able to practice her craft unmolested and share her passion with a new generation of cosmetologists and stylists, with or without a license.