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Assembly passes bill allowing natural hair braiding without license

Published: Mar. 21, 2021 at 10:51 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -A bipartisan bill passed in the Wisconsin Assembly would allow hairstylists to braid natural hair without a barbering or cosmetology license.

This bill is already law in about 30 states in the U.S., according to the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit that advocates for civil liberties.

Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison) said braiding is a cultural practice and you shouldn’t need a license to do it.

“My favorite part is seeing the transformation and making people happy,” Kiara Allen, Kashis Cheveux salon owner said.

You name it, Allen said she can braid it.

“You look good, you feel good,” she said.

Hair braiding is in her blood. Allen said she was her own teacher learning at a young age.

“I am the oldest of five girls. It was a crazy household and I had to learn early,” she said.

In order to braid hair professionally in Wisconsin, she needed a cosmetology license. She went to school to get the certification.

“They didn’t get into the depth of braiding. They didn’t know the diversity of it. I’m $20,000 in debt right now because I had to go get licensed,” she said.

Rep. Stubbs drafted the bill with help from Jeff Patterson, JP Hair Design owner, to help stylists like Allen.

“Why are we still putting people in more and more debt? It’s so burdensome,” she said. “I believe that we are going to just blow the state out of proportion with more hair braiders that could come forward.”

She said the measure will create jobs, stimulate the economy and give entrepreneurs another avenue to support their families.

“It is the right bill that we need to remove a barrier that is keeping African Americans and women away from doing a craft that we have been birthed to do,” Rep. Stubbs said.

“We shouldn’t have to go school just to get licensed just to do something that’s always been in our household, what we grew up learning and is so natural to us.,” Allen said.

Lawmakers opposing the idea brought up concerns about tools used to braid hair.

Rep. Stubbs says she hopes this bill makes it to the senate by the end of April.

Stubbs is the first Democrat in this session to have a bill pass in the Republican-dominated state Legislature.

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