Making every day a good hair day

Cosmetology teacher Chianita Lowe of Atlanta, left, helps during a Styles 4 Kidz event in Atlanta earlier in August. The nonprofit teaches adoptive and foster parents how to care for Afro-textured hair. One of their workshops will be at the Benton Harbor Library on Sept. 28.

BENTON HARBOR — A good hair day can really boost a person’s mood.

Now imagine that you are a white adoptive parent of an African-American child and you have no idea how to care for that child’s hair.

Library assistant Tiffani Karlsen at the Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library in St. Joseph said she has seen more and more situations where adults have no idea how to care for the hair of their children.

“I’m African American and I grew up in St. Joseph and it was very hard finding a hair stylist ... and we are not transracial,” she said.

Then library Director Stephanie Masin told her about a Facebook post she saw about Styles 4 Kidz in Chicago, a nonprofit organization that helps transracial adoptive and foster parents learn how to care for African-American hair.

Karlsen said she jumped at the chance to set up the Styles 4 Kidz Hair Workshop, which is also being hosted by the Benton Harbor Library and Bridgman Library. The workshop will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Benton Harbor Library. To register call 983-7167.

Karlsen said the workshop’s instructors will show parents different techniques, because not all African-American hair is the same.

“I know within my own family, my sisters have different hair textures,” she said. “What works on their hair doesn’t necessarily work on my hair.”

Tamekia Swint, founder of the nonprofit, said she emphasizes hands-on instruction of simple hair styles, including how to braid and detangle Afro-textured hair.

She said that about eight years ago, a fellow church member introduced her to an adoptive mom of two African-American girls who needed help fixing their hair. That led to several other transracial adoptive moms seeking her help.

“I discovered there was a real need for this service,” said Swint, who has more than 23 years of experience in doing natural hair and braiding. 

She started the nonprofit Styles for Girlz, which later became Styles 4 Kidz when she added boys.

She said the parents usually bring their children to the workshop with them.

“There are different challenges with each type and texture of hair,” she said. “I want to make sure I’m showing them the right care techniques.”

She discovered that another place where her services were needed were at group residential homes, where she teaches older children how to fix their own hair.

More information can be found at www.styles4kidz.org

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege