Dan King
Dan King · June 24, 2024

ARLINGTON, Va.—Today, Louisiana hair braider Ashley N’Dakpri and her attorneys from the Institute for Justice (IJ) vowed to take their legal fight against the state’s licensing requirements for hair braiders to the Louisiana Supreme Court. The announcement comes after the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the First Circuit upheld a lower court’s ruling dismissing the case last Friday. 

“Obviously Friday’s ruling is incredibly disappointing, but we remain committed to making sure that braiders in Louisiana can work without spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of unnecessary hours at beauty school, particularly when their job doesn’t involve dangerous things like chemicals,” said IJ Attorney Keith Neely. “All Americans have the right to earn an honest living without jumping through unreasonably burdensome hoops.” 

Under current law, Louisiana requires all hair braiders to complete 500 hours of training at a private cosmetology school, pass both written and practical exams, and pay annual fees to the licensing board. Those expenses can quickly add up, forcing Louisiana braiders either to work in other states with less onerous restrictions or to work underground.   

By comparison, 33 states nationwide have exempted braiders from licensing requirements without suffering negative public health consequences. Neighboring Mississippi requires zero hours of training and has more than 6,700 registered braiders, while Louisiana only has a few dozen registered braiders. 

Ashley learned how to practice traditional African hair braiding in the Ivory Coast and began working at her family’s salon in Louisiana. The salon grew quickly, but in 2003 the Louisiana Board of Cosmetology created the state’s hair braiding license. Anyone caught braiding without a license could be subject to up to $5,000 in fines. The salon had to downsize from four locations and 20 employees to one location with Ashley as the sole remaining braider. 

“I want to employ additional braiders at my shop so I can grow this business and braid more people’s hair, but the state’s rules have made it so braiders are either working in other states or quitting the field altogether,” said Ashley. “That’s why I plan to bring this lawsuit to the Louisiana Supreme Court.”  

Last week marked five years since Ashley and IJ first filed the lawsuit