Evanston community center converted into salon, where young girls learn Black hair is beautiful

Jasmine Minor Image
Tuesday, March 26, 2024
Young girls learn Black hair is beautiful at Evanston salon
At Ikandi Hair Studio in Evanston, young Black girls learn their hair is beautiful through techniques like braiding. The skills are valuable.

EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- An Evanston hairstylist has converted a community center into a salon, where she teaches young girls valuable and perhaps profitable skills.

Kandi Corbbins, owner of the Ikandi Hair Studio, is teaching the next generation that Black hair is beautiful.

"Just tell your mannequin head, 'girl, look down, we got work to do back here,'" Corbbins said. "I teach techniques, and not styles, because styles live and die daily, but techniques never go away."

Through her Ikandi Academy, she gives free hair care classes to dozens of pre-teen girls, teaching them how to braid, color and wear different natural hairstyles.

One of her students is 14-year-old Shayla Hunt.

"It's just a feeling of independence because I think everyone should learn how to do their own hair," Hunt said.

Hunt said learning how to do her own hair has helped build her confidence as one of the few Black girls in her school.

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"I'll be one of the only Black kids in class, so my friends would ask if they could touch my hair," Hunt said. "They'll make comments, where they're not trying to be mean, but it's kind of insensitive."

She said going to Ikandi Academy's eight-week training allowed her to educate her fellow students on Black hair, and, in a place like school, where she said she'd normally keep it hidden in a ponytail, now, she's wearing her natural curls proudly.

"It's OK if I can go to school with my natural hair out," Hunt said.

At the end of the eight weeks, each cohort puts on a "hair show," where the girls get to show off the styles they learned.

"This program is reclassifying the standards of beauty is what it's doing, because, when I grew up, my hair was not the standard of beauty," Corbbins said.

But that is changing with every lesson she teaches.

"You don't have to change your hair or who you are in order to be successful, in order to be beautiful," Corbbins said.

For more information, visit https://www.vagaro.com/us04/ikandihairstudio, or email ikandiacademy@gmail.com.