Salon teaches foster parents how to style hair that’s not like their own

Faces of Chicago
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New foster parents face all kinds of challenges, including sometimes helping with hair that’s unlike their own. At Styles 4 Kidz, they teach parents how to help their kids look — and feel — their best.

Tamekia Swint, founder of Styles 4 Kidz

We serve families that are trans-racially adopting and fostering African-American kids and kids who have textured hair. So we teach parents real skills, hands-on skills, so that they can walk away knowing how to do and style their kids’ hair.

I’ve always been passionate about hair, and even from a small child I just always loved it. But 10 years ago I was in the workforce, just selling insurance, and I don’t know, I just really felt called to really wanna do hair.

Families that we serve don’t typically have experience with textured hair. They don’t have textured hair, and most of them have not had the experience of even touching textured hair. Even in biracial families, the children have a very different hair texture, sometimes in both parents.

They’ve been you know, trying to navigate through the details of doing the hair on their own. They have all these questions, so we try to give them an opportunity in a safe space to ask questions, and not feel judged.

I know there’s a wide amount of kids in the African American and African community that need homes, and so they’re going to homes many times with families that don’t look like them. I think it’s an awesome thing. It’s just
that there’s a huge gap in the availability of education for these families and how to do their kids’ hair.

Your hair is your crown. It is the most part of you when people look at you, it speaks to who you are and speaks to your culture and speaks to your experience, and it gives you different ways to express yourself.

Most people when they get their hair done, they automatically feel more confident. And so that’s what we’re giving to the kids that we serve, confidence and understanding that it’s okay to have hair that’s different from your family members.

I think sometimes it can be hard, and so we’re providing the environment of support; saying, “this is okay and that you’re beautiful, you’re handsome and your hair is great.”

Note: this interview was edited for content

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