LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Middle school students at four Jefferson County public schools are learning to braid hair from Shawanda Parker. She owns the Braid Bar, a hair braiding salon in Louisville.
What do you want to know
- Shawanda Parker is the owner of the Braid Bar in Louisville
- Parker teaches after-school braid clubs in Jefferson County
- The eight-week program teaches students braiding, customer service skills and marketing
- Parker has a teen braid shop in her living room
Parker is usually behind the salon chair styling hair, but for eight weeks after the school day, she transforms JCPS classrooms into hair salons.
“I love braiding hair. I started braiding when I was in high school,” Parker said. “I was adopted by my aunt. She had 5 sons and she adopted me and my kids. sisters. It was 4 of us. She didn’t know how to do her hair at all, so sometimes I would braid the hair of my sisters, some of my cousins, and a few friends of the family kids.
Now she shares her skills with JCPS middle school students after school.
“I teach them the basics of braiding — major braiding styles like knotless braids, box braids, and power braids,” Parker explained.
Her 8-week course also covers customer service, money and time management, and advertising and marketing using social media.
Michelle Brown, an 8th grader at Stuart Academy, loves wearing braids to protect her natural hair. Now she has the skills to braid her hair and others.
“I was a difficult person to teach,” Brown said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but she took her time for me and continued to be patient with me.”
Parker hopes to create beauty salons where licensed teenage braiders can help ensure no student has a bad hair day.
“A lot of kids get teased a lot about their hair. We always say we’ll help with the bullying or help them change to give them their own personality, but we don’t give them the real space,” said Parker.
After club meetings, Parker heads to his living room. The staff includes Parker and a team of teenage braiders.
“It’s my everything here. They’re my girls. They come here every day after school and they braid their hair,” Parker said. help. They teach me patience. I teach them how to work with adults.
The living room is the first work of Tenae Wilkerson, senior of the male high school.
“I love it. I learned how to work with difficult clients and how to work with different hair textures,” says Wilkerson. “I can definitely show my creativity like we all have so many different talents.”
Wilkerson also enjoys earning above minimum wage and setting his own schedule.
For Parker, a single mother of four, it’s all about pushing her daughters to be their best.
“I had a lot of times where I just wanted to give up, but I had to keep pushing because of my kids and I had a family to support, so when you have good motivation, if you have a good support system , I feel like when I give them support, it motivates them to pursue what they want to do,” Parker says.
Even if hairdressing is only a secondary activity to help them achieve their goals outside of a salon.
Parker hopes to expand the braid club to more schools next year.
In June, Parker will host a Dad can also braid event to teach single fathers how to braid and style their children’s hair.