I have a great business idea for the right person with the right skill set. If you are a hair stylist, working predominately with African-Americans, and even better if you are a Christian, there is a gold-mine waiting for you.
When my wife and I adopted our son more than 5 years ago from Liberia, we knew little about how to care for African-American hair. Here’s our little secret, 5 years later, and we still have little idea what to do. I mean we’ve asked people. We’ve looked on websites. Its still just confusing. What I have found is this, taking care of African American hair in the African-American community is a lot like changing a tire to rednecks in the South. You don’t know how you know how to do it, you’ve just always known how to do it. It’s so second nature to you that it would be hard to even teach someone what to do. You just do it. We need help.
There are so many question:
What do you put on it at night?
What do you put on it in the morning?
How often does he need to comb it?
What do we do if he wants to grow it out?
When do we transition from horse-hair comb to pick?
How often does he wash it?
Shampoo, no Shampoo?
What is sheen and does he need it? The only one we know about is named Charlie and he’s crazy.
Conditioner? Leave it in, wash it out?
Does he have to wear a sleep cap? Do you even call it a sleep cap, that sounds too “A Night Before Christmas”ish?
What is “nappy” hair, and does he have it? Is that offensive to say “nappy” hair?
Are there info-graphs about “cornrows, fades, braids, dreadlocks, afros.
What if he wants to go all Lenny Kravitz mid-90s, what do we do then?
The barber shops around here are not like the movie, where do we go?
How do you avoid razor-burn when you cut it short?
What questions should we be asking that we aren’t asking?
And with the surge in African adoptions over the last several years, I know that we are not alone. And I’m just asking about African-American male hair. We don’t even have a girl or I’d be crying right now. We are lost, confused, and culturally out of our element. And there are thousands in a similar predicament.
So, if there is anyone out there with a vast knowledge of how to take care of, braid, cut, treat, African-American hair you have a cash cow waiting for you. Talk to your local church or adoption agency and tell them you want to put on a conference to teach people how to care for the special needs of African-American hair and you will find young mothers racing to the table to sign up. Forgive them. They will probably be desperate. You might hear them mutter things like, “God-send” “I just didn’t know”, “No one told me”, and “I just get so confused when I go down that aisle at the store.” Forgive them. They are a timid bunch of people for two reasons, 1. They have no idea what they are doing, and 2. They are mortified of sounding racist by saying things like “your kind of hair.” Be gentle with their children as well. Depending on how long they have been in their forever family, they may have developed an aversion to combs, brushes, and hair pics. Their hair maybe dried and cracked, and their scalps may smell of Head and Shoulders. Forgive them. They may have razor-burn on their foreheads and their fade lines, may not fade at all. Forgive them. They may give a hurt-dog kind of look to anyone coming close to them with a brush. Again, forgive them.
Charge whatever you like. You would probably get it. Come with a teacher’s heart. Start from the beginning. Leave no cosmetic stone unturned. Take no bit of information for granted. You may even have to schedule a separate conference on braiding alone. In the end, I hope you make a lot of money. We thank you, and even more so, our poor kids thank you.