By: Aja Bradley, Clinician
This school year Pathways introduced a new club called Braiding Beauty. Braiding Beauty was created to teach students how to do various styles like French braids, box braids, and knotless braids on themselves or others. I started braiding my own hair in 2018. Through years of YouTube videos and lots of practice, I was able to start a side business braiding hair and have the freedom to do my own hair whenever I want. This has become one of my most impressive skills and something I wanted to share with students at CHS.
At the very first meeting students were asked their reasoning for joining Braiding Beauty. Answers varied from wanting to save money by doing their own hair and helping style younger sibling’s hair, to learning more about Black hair and styles. By learning to braid, students would be able to become more self-sufficient, save money and even grow to develop their own side business or pursue as a career.
Many girls and women choose to wear braids for a low maintenance, convenient, protective style. Currently a style like knotless braids can range from $120-$300 or more depending on the size, length, and stylist. This style, if done at home, will cost about $30 for synthetic hair and additional supplies such as a rat-tail comb and braiding gel. A dramatic difference in price!
Braiding Beauty met every Monday after school, alternating between beginners and intermediate level braiders. The students who attended were diverse, but all shared the same interest in improving their braiding skills. All students were taught the basics of doing a simple 3 stranded braid learning an underhand and overhand method which would later come in handy when doing styles such as knotless or cornrows. As braiding classes continued, they were introduced to box parting and braiding with synthetic hair/extensions. They learned how to do box braids and utilized a “feed-in” method which helps extend the lengths of braids and increase thickness.
An unexpected outcome of the club was the relationships between the students that developed. As sessions progressed students would have side conversations about music interests, summer plans, and academic stressors. At times students would share a conflict or issue they were having while other students offered a listening ear and advice. Hair salons are often viewed as a safe space for women to comfortably talk about their lives. It was fascinating to see that same concept play out during our braiding sessions!
Students experienced some frustration but at the end of the day, each student was patient and determined to perfect their craft. Some students were so eager to continue practicing that they asked to borrow mannequin heads over the summer break. They expressed their gratitude for this new club that is prepping them with a skill that they will have forever.