Aicheria Bell lives in Des Moines. She is passionate about natural hair care and has been braiding hair since she was three years old. Aicheria is a single mom who relies on hair braiding to support herself and her daughter. She has braided hair in several states, including Minnesota, Georgia and Iowa.
When she lived in Minnesota, Aicheria paid $18,000 to attend a Minnesota cosmetology school. She completed 918 hours at the cosmetology school, but grew frustrated because she was not learning anything related to braiding. She dropped out because she needed an income to support her family and could not afford to waste any more time on irrelevant training instead of working and raising her daughter.
When Aicheria first moved to Des Moines, she considered attending cosmetology school but soon realized that, like her school in Minnesota, Iowa’s cosmetology schools also did not teach African-style hair braiding. She could not afford to take time away from working to again pursue the same irrelevant training.
Aicheria braids hair in a salon in Des Moines, even though it is illegal under state law. She is able to do so because the salon owner received special permission from the state cosmetology board to have an unlicensed braider work in the salon so long as the braider only uses a comb. Though this is not the law, the salon owner allows Aicheria to work in her salon subject to this comb-only restriction. Under this restriction, Aicheria cannot offer her customers all the services they would like, and she works in fear that the government will one day shut her down. If she could lawfully provide her services, she would start her own braiding salon and would teach others how to braid hair, creating employment and entrepreneurial opportunities in her community.