Many of us have been in this situation: you’re out in the world; at the grocery store, in a coffeeshop, or at the mall, and you spot an adorable little girl overflowing with loads of Black girl magic, but with hair that looks like it needs to disappear. And when you finally see her White mother you realize why her hair is a disaster, and you’re disappointed. For many White parents with Black children (adoptive or biological), caring for their children’s hair can seem like a daunting task. We saw Kim Kardashian try, yet still struggle, to style North’s curls on Keeping Up With The Kardashians. And she put in some effort, but her cornrow skills were a fail. For Black women who see these children going out into the world, hair undone, it can feel like a slight to our culture and our expressive beauty.
Tamekia Swint wanted to do more than be disappointed about it. Her Chicago-based salon and organization, Styles 4 Kidz, provides hair care services, support, and training for transracial (meaning the parents are of a different race than the children) families that are adopting or fostering Black children.
The company originally started in 2010 as Styles for Girlz, when Swint was tapped by a transracial mother who sought out her help caring for her little ones’ hair. A referral led to another, and soon, with a need for her services in the greater Illinois area, three clients jumped to 500. By 2016 the company had expanded to Styles 4 Kidz, providing in-home, hair care education, training, and services to transracial parents with children with Afro-textured hair. In 2018 the first Styles 4 Kidz salon opened.
“This is important because somebody’s kid went to school today not feeling confident about how they look because of their hair,” said Swint in an appearance on Strahan and Sara. “It’s so important for our kids to feel good about themselves.”
The company especially puts an emphasis on helping children in foster care, group homes and detention centers, or those considered at-risk. They also provide hands-on hair certification training and education for parents waiting to adopt or foster Black children, and children with Afro-textured hair, to ensure that the children can embrace their natural manes. Swint calls it “hair care with heart.” The parents are grateful and heralded her a blessing for their families in several online videos about her salon.
“We’re bridging the gap,” she said. “We’re creating an environment of support where African American parents can connect with families in these communities, and they can provide support.”
When a story about Styles For Kidz premiered on 60 Second Docs on May 15th this year, the response was overwhelmingly positive. The video garnered more than six million views, with transracial parents thanking Swint for her contribution in the comments section.
The company is currently raising funds to expand Styles 4 Kidz into more markets including Wisconsin, Kansas City, Indiana, and Iowa. You can donate to the non-profit organization on their website, www.styles4kidz.org.