Wisc. poised to allow natural hair-braiding services without barbering, cosmetology license

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

MADISON, Wisc. -- Stylists in Wisconsin are getting closer to allowing people to braid hair without a license.

The state's general assembly passed a measure ending the requirement which many say is too expensive.

Hairstylist Kiara Allen tells WMTV that hair braiding is in her blood.

"I am the oldest of five girls. It was a crazy household and I kind of had to learn early," said Allen.

But to braid hair professionally in Wisconsin she needed a cosmetology license. So she went to school

"They didn't ever get into the depth of braiding, they didn't know anything about the diversity of it," said Allen. "$20,000 in debt right now because I had to go school to get licensed."

"Why are we still putting people in more and more debt? I mean right now just student loan, it's so burdensome," Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison.

Stubbs is one of the bill's sponsors.

"I believe that we are going to just blow this state out of proportion with more hair braiders that could come forward," said Stubbs.

Stubbs said the measure will create jobs, stimulate the economy and give entrepreneurs another avenue to support their families.

"It is the right bill that we need to remove a barrier that is that in fact, is keeping African Americans, and women, away from doing a craft that we have, you know, been birth to do," said Stubbs.

"We shouldn't have to go school just to get licensed, just to do something that's always in our household, that we grew up learning and that's just so natural to us," said Allen.

Opponents of the bill said they are worried about the tools stylist used to braid hair.

The bi-partisan measure must now pass Wisconsin's senate.