Salon helps caucasian adoptive parents care for Afro-textured hair: 'It's critical to their success'

"Good People" profiles everyday individuals who are bettering the lives of those in need and improving their communities.

Stylist Tamekia Swint wants to bring transracial adoptive families together through hair care.

The Chicago native founded the salon "Styles 4 Kidz" in order to teach caucasian adoptive parents how to properly care for Afro-textured hair through a series of in-person tutorials in her salon on the city's outskirts.

"Hair identifies us," Swint told In The Know's Good People."People can immediately look at us and identify who we are by our hair."

Swint was inspired to start Styles 4 Kidz, originally Styles For Girlz, in 2010 after teaching a hair braiding class to a group of students at an English language learning camp while on a mission trip to Poland, according to the company's website.

Upon her return to the United States, Swint was introduced to a transracial adoptive mother, who was in need of affordable hair care for her three daughters. Pleased with Swint's work, the woman referred her to a network of adoptive parents who were in similar positions of needing hair care services for their little ones and a safe place to learn how to properly care for their transracial children’s hair without judgment and negative criticism. 

Since then, the organization has gone from serving three clients in 2010 to over 500 clients throughout the United States.

Swint says she believes it is important for transracial adoptive families to "make it a priority to get hair care for their kids," as it "helps for the development of healthy self-esteem, connection with their culture and to have a good experience with their hair."

"It's critical to their success," she added.

Beth, a white mother and customer of Styles 4 Kidz, told Good People she had a difficult time styling her African-American daughter's hair until she learned of Swint's salon and its mission.

"Before we found Styles 4 Kidz, it was trial and error, and finding Tamekia and Styles 4 Kidz was wonderful," she said. "When (my daughter) walks out of here, she's proud. She walks out and she goes to school the next day and says, 'Here I am, look at me. It's OK to look at me.'"

Clara, a stylist for the salon, said children who visit with their parents often leave feeling more comfortable in their own skin, seemingly transformed by the confidence their new hair imparts to them. 

"I think from my experience, the kids' self-confidence grows because they brighten up after they get their hair done," she said. "They want to talk, they're approachable. They don't mind giving hugs after they get their hair done. It's like before they're ... a little self-conscious, and after, it's like a release. Like wow, I can be me."

Swint, who has been doing hair since she was about 10 years old, recalled the excitement she felt when she first founded Styles 4 Kidz

"I realized that what I was doing was so much bigger than just doing hair, and that really inspired me," she said. "That is what drives me on a daily basis: the want to change someone's story through providing beautiful hairstyles." 

Her customers seem to echo the importance of Swint's mission.

"She's such a good soul and gives to the community and gives to all of us with her knowledge, and I'm privileged and honored to be part of this journey," Beth said. 

Learn more about Swint and Styles 4 Kidz in the above episode of "Good People."

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