CHICAGO — A new social enterprise is empowering Black girls to feel good about themselves and their natural hair.

The workshop for young girls, ‘Braids and Brilliance’ takes place in Bronzeville this weekend. The program is run by Ahead Academy and has been in the works for years.

“We work with Black and Brown girls. We teach them empowerment and entrepreneurship, but through lessons of hair,” said Anyea Taylor, the founder and CEO of Ahead Academy.

Taylor was inspired by her experience working in corporate media — which lead to her switching careers.

“I went to work in my box braids and at the time I was up for a promotion I was told by a superior no one would hire me because of my ‘Bob Marley braids’ … and I was devastated,” Taylor said.

She wants to make sure every girl participating feels the vibe, feels valued, included, beautiful and empowered.

“Our curriculum is co-created with a licensed clinical social worker so we know mental health is important,” Taylor said.

The first half of the workshop is spent on mindfulness activities before the girls get into the business of braiding.

One of the long-term goals of the group is creating a path for entrepreneurship in the beauty industry.

I think so much in society tells us how we show up in our natural state is not enough,” Taylor said. I want every girl to leave here today ‘knowing I’m that girl! I am beautiful, exactly as I am, and I know that I am.

Ahead Academy is planning a summer camp next year and there are two ‘Braids and Brilliance’ workshops coming up in October.

For more information, visit: Black Girls | Ahead | Chicago (