Hair braiders rally at meeting over Missouri cosmetology law

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KTVI) – Hair braiders in St. Louis and throughout the state are gearing up to fight for their profession during the 2017 Missouri legislative session.

The Institute for Justice is a non-profit organization working with braiders across the country to fight burdensome regulations and promote every braider's right to earn a living.

Wednesday night in University City, attorneys with the non-profit met with hair braiders and salon owners to teach them how to take action in the legislature and give them a voice.

Missouri law states that cosmetology school is a must for braiders. Braiders have argued that cosmetology school is expensive, time consuming and unnecessary.

“It's just going to school to get a piece of paper to say look I went, but it's not teaching me what I do,” said Tameka Stigers, hair braider and owner of Locks of Glory.

Institute for Justice attorney Dan Alban challenged that law nearly three years ago. A district judge upheld it so now Alban is taking the lawsuit to federal court. He’s also encouraging the braiders fight in support of a proposed bill that would make the cosmetology school requirement obsolete for African-style braiders.

“We are very optimistic that the Missouri legislature sees what the problem is with braiders having to get licensed with the cosmetologists and spend 1,500 hours learning about a completely other profession,” Dan Alban said.

Alban said the proposed legislation would create a small educational brochure about the need to wash your hands in between clients and to not braid someone's hair too tightly if they complain that if hurts. It will also have a small self-test on the back that braiders can take and display in their shop to show they are a safe braider.