By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
Report for America Corps Member,
African Americans have long faced discrimination as a result of their hair. School, workplace and U.S. military policies have prohibited or restricted natural hairstyles, including locs, afros, braids and bantu knots, and they have been used to justify the removal of African Americans from these spaces.
In 2019, Dove alongside the National Urban League, Color of Change and the Western Center on Law & Poverty created the CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The bill prohibits race-based hair discrimination in the workplace and in public schools.
Since then, eight states have enacted the act, including Maryland, and four states have adopted amended versions. Most recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the CROWN Act, and now the bill will go to the Senate.
Despite political and societal pushes for the acceptance of natural hair, some Black women still have trouble finding hair extensions that accurately embody the texture of their hair.
Angela Fité is the founder and CEO of Kinkistry, an e-commerce business that supplies 100 percent kinky, curly human hair extensions for 3B to 4C hair types.
It was important for Fité to start a business that would spotlight the beauty of natural hair, particularly because so many Black women are subject to negative stigmas and discrimination surrounding their hair.
“I definitely believe that textured hair is beautiful, regardless of how tight the coils are or how loose they are,” said Fité. “Being a Black woman in corporate America, we tend to assimilate to what is deemed the norm, and unfortunately, our hair is not deemed the norm. It’s not deemed acceptable in a lot of spaces.”
In the fall, Kinkistry will celebrate seven years in business. Fité started the company out of her home, but its growth over the years led her to buy an office to house the operation. In its initial product launch, Kinkistry offered clip-ins and wefted hair and closures. Now, it also provides ponytails and wigs.
If customers are unsure about which texture will match their hair, Kinkistry allows them to upload a picture to receive a certified texture match.
The company also recently established a free service to help customers experiencing alopecia and other medical conditions that cause hair loss file insurance claims to receive their wigs at no cost.
In June, Kinkistry will travel to Paris to attend The Natural Hair Academy’s eighth annual event, which expands European women of color’s access to natural hair products.
“I want to continue to ensure that we as a society are not judging based on aesthetics and ensure that we have a space in the beauty industry where we feel safe and are accepted for our natural hair,” said Fité.
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