Lack of Diversity in East Lansing Salons Inspires Students to Act

African-American students in East Lansing, Michigan are looking for salons closer to them who have the knowledge and skills to do their hair properly. Many students have started doing their own hair and their friends’ hair at their homes and many others travel back home just to get their hair done, which Ajah Chandler calls a “hassle.” Chandler claims that the salons in East Lansing are “mostly for white people.”

The care required for African-American hair requires very specifically educated stylists, which isn’t often found in the college-student-populated town of East Lansing.

A salon in the area, Douglas J. Aveda Institute, does not offer twist-outs, braids, or sew-ins, which are the three most popular styles for black women, according to an article written by The State News – a local newspaper for students of Michigan State University.

In 2012, Uché Onwudiwe started doing hair on campus. Her initial reasoning was to make some extra money while in school, but then she realized how many women were struggling to find a decent salon and wanted Onwudiwe to style their hair. Out of this small venture came an on-campus group called “CurlFriends” which recognized the problem, as well. Ambrigail Smith, the president of the club, said she wanted to create a community where students could feel comfortable with their own hair and be able to ask questions about how to properly care for it.

Because of these women and the club on campus, more African-American women are discovering easier ways of getting their hair done by other students with the knowledge and skills it takes to properly care for their locks.


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