MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin State Assembly is moving forward with a bi-partisan bill benefiting natural hair care stylists.
Assembly Bill 121 clarifies that natural hair stylists, such as braiders, won't need a license to perform their crafts.
Nearly a decade into a life of crafting protective hairstyles, "locs" and twists, Sharmayne Williams has never operated with a license. That's perfectly legal because the state doesn't require it. She's thankful not to have put out the time and dollars needed to earn that license.
"We can make a lot of money with doing hair, but if you're just starting off and you don't have money to pay for those classes, it's going to cost you thousands to be able to get that money,” Williams said.
But others across the state have never been clear - do they need a license or not?
"Some people have spent thousands of dollars going to cosmetology school just to do braids. They come out thousands of dollars in debt, and the class doesn't go into the detail they need for their industry,” said State Senator Latonya Johnson.
Johnson, of Milwaukee, says she co-authored a bill to help clarify the already-existing law.
"So, in Milwaukee, you don't need a license, but who knows in Rhinelander, so this basically says wherever you go, there is no need for a license. There never was. You don't have to spend thousands of dollars,” Johnson said.
Wisconsin Assembly Bill 121 includes language that classifies natural hair stylists, like braiders, twisters and others, from the term "barbering" which requires a cosmetology license.
Wisconsin joins 30 other states either clarifying or changing laws to de-regulate natural hair care services.
"For so many of us, especially in the African American community, braiding hair is a technique that is passed down generation to generation,” Johnson said.