Should African-style, natural hair braiding—a totally safe and time-tested craft—require entrepreneurs to spend big bucks for 500 of hours of training before being allowed to enter the industry? Louisiana’s Board of Cosmetology thinks so.
In Louisiana, braiders must spend 500 hours in a classroom at one of only two licensed schools before passing an exam and finally receiving an Alternative Hair Design permit. But both of the schools are located in New Orleans and neither has offered the permit curriculum since 2005.
In 2017, braiders across the Bayou state formed The Louisiana Natural Hair Braiding Advocates to fight the burdensome regulations they face every day. The coalition created a petition asking Louisiana to allow braiders to work legally without first getting the Alternative Hair Design permit. They collected over 300 signatures from Louisianans who agreed that braiders shouldn’t need a permission slip from the government to provide their safe, cultural service.
In addition to their petition, The Louisiana Natural Hair Braiding Advocates made videos inviting others to join their coalition and share their braiding stories. They met with Representative Julie Emerson, the author of legislation that would repeal the permit requirement and exempt braiders from the cosmetology license.
Braiders testified alongside IJ before the House Commerce Committee in support of Representative Emerson’s bill. HB468 passed the House floor and the Senate Committee on Commerce Consumer Protection and International Affairs.
But when the bill was supposed to be introduced on the Senate floor, politics got in the way of letting real people get to work. The bill ultimately died in the Senate, despite overwhelming support of the braiders it would have helped join Louisiana’s workforce.
Louisiana’s braiders are not giving up. IJ is committed to protecting the rights of braiders across Louisiana and will continue to fight with them through next year.