If you live in Ohio and
have natural hair, you may have had the opportunity to be a
part of the natural hair community and overall movement that
has evolved over the last 10 to 12 years.
Many naturals who began
their journeys in the last decade have more than likely
mastered their hair care routines and also may know how to
create their favorite styles at home. Among these, a small
number have probably shown someone else how to maintain and
style their hair. If you did this and someone offered to pay
you, you could be fined or forced into cosmetology school,
which doesn’t offer natural hair care in its curriculum at
As the trends change, many
have gone with the flow, from wearing Teenie Weenie Afros (TWAs)
to rocking the perfect twist out. Today, the trendsetting
continues as men and women are going back to braids such as
cornrows, box braids and ladies love the newer crochet
But the hottest trend now
is locs. Traditional locs, Sisterlocks, Freeform locs and a
red-hot issue, loc extensions. There’s a whole other
community under or included in the natural hair community
consisting of men and women who are wearing any form of locs.
The beauty industry is
changing because of the high demand for loc services, which
aren’t widely available in Toledo or the region.
Specifically, in Ohio, while there may be a number of
locticians, they are probably in hiding due to the
aforementioned reason listed above: the lack of board
In a meeting held last
week with Ohio Democratic Representative Stephanie Howse, a
group of women from Toledo, Cincinnati and Cleveland shared
experiences about licensing, education and the right-to-work
as an entrepreneur despite the current rules that exist in
“I’m afraid to advertise
my services as a Sisterlocks Consultant in Cleveland,” said
Wanda Rahkeera about her business. She not only has locs,
but she is a loctician who can’t legally work in the state
of Ohio because of its highly complex laws and regulations.
Despite being trained in a specific skill set for locs, she
cannot openly practice without a full license, natural hair
license, and it is challenged by the current “boutique”
license being offered in Ohio.
Ty Sherrer, of Cleveland,
is a nurse and loctician, sharing her battle with cancer and
how she overcame by going natural inside and out, and
learned to groom her own re-grown locs, which she originally
lost due to chemotherapy. She shared information about the
many chemicals put in the hair, from shampoos to styling
products, that may be linked to forms of cancer and stated
that it’s not something that is shared in the Black Hair
Industry as a whole. She is inspired to educate others about
the benefits of going natural.
Kristin Brown, of Toledo,
attended the LOC’D Lifestyle Meetup to talk about the
current industry and its opportunities in Ohio compared with
those in Michigan. While she has begun advertising her
services, she is reluctant to build in Ohio for concerns
regarding the laws and the people who are opposed to any
type of change. She has discovered a mentor in Michigan,
Angela Hammond, who has been a loctician for a number of
years and has supported the local natural hair movement.
Because Michigan is exempt from natural hair license
requirements, she can freely practice her craft while
renting a booth in Hammond’s salon.
“We went as a group to the
Ohio Board of Cosmetology in the 80s.” stated Safiyyah
Muhammad of Cleveland. “They wanted to fine us for braiding
and locking people’s hair, but we fought it. We went to
Columbus and protested the requirement,” she continued. As a
result of this, the group of natural stylists were asked to
take a “made up” board test in Columbus with doubts that
they’d pass. The group, having made it through the testing
process, were “grandfathered” into the board of cosmetology,
a term that the board dislikes and states does not exist.
It was shortly thereafter
that one of the directors of the board established a 450
hour requirement for natural hair stylists to become
licensed and free to practice. The same requirement, created
in the early 90s, has not been altered, updated, or changed
to reflect the true practice of natural hair care but
remains in law for Ohio.
During LOC’D, Maurice
Price, who came to visit family in Toledo from Houston,
Texas, popped in on a whim after hearing about the event. He
thought it was cool that this type of thing is being done in
Toledo, and was also looking for a loctician to book with
before he went back home.
There were questions about
product use and build up, the frequency of cleansing and
styling locs and embracing the stages of locking. Each guest
received a free natural hair product or accessory and also
shopped for additional items from The Kitchen Salon as well
as Autumn Gineen’s Boutique.
The conversation that
began at the table sparked ideas and gave hope to those in
attendance that things will change in Ohio. From simply
embracing locs to accepting them to including them in this
region’s beauty industry, there is still much work to be
done. Representative Howse (D) Cleveland, knew of the
disparity in Ohio’s cosmetology industry and the barriers
womenpreneurs currently face. She has worked behind the
scenes with state legislators and has met with the board and
beauticians across the state, explaining the
fence-straddling position most are in.
While making new
legislation to reflect the needs, demand and positive
financial impact on the state is needed, the journey to
creating the change needed is a long-winding road ahead. Of
the guests at LOC’D, local locticians were invited to
attend, to present their businesses and skills to potential
consumers, a service that Megan Davis, owner of The Kitchen
Salon, has done several times in the past ten years.
Getting people to
advertise or market their business, especially if they’re
good, is lost in this area. Some people don’t advertise
because of the current laws and some don’t because they
simply don’t know how. This meetup was the first of its kind
for people who wear and service locs only, since the natural
hair movement began in Toledo, in 2007. Davis is encouraged
that the work she has done to reach out to others and bring
them together, will continue in this, her 12th year in
business, and grow, understanding that there is a need.