Lyric Washington really likes her hair. Currently styled in braids, the 12-year-old rated her hair an 8 out of 10.
“It’s part of my personality,” she said. “I took points off because it can be frustrating to work with.”
Lyric and her sister Zhiva, who wants her hair to look like a LOL doll’s hair, attended the Daddy-Daughter Hair Care Day at the Academy of Hair Design, with their father, Ronny Washington.
I’m here to spend some time with my daughters and give my wife some free time
Organized by Man In Me, a non-profit seeking to educate, strengthen and support men towards responsible manhood and fatherhood, hairdressing, a task usually assigned to the female presence in the house is now being undertaken by the opposite sex.
Washington, 41, said it’s important for him to support Man In Me’s effort to uplift the community, and build up fathers and their relationships with their kids.
“I’m here to spend some time with my daughters and give my wife some free time,” he said. “It will also be helpful to know how to do some stuff with your hand. Sometimes even throwing their hair up in a ponytail can be a challenge.”
Founder, Isaac Rowe, recognized the hair care gap in parenting and set out to do something about it three years ago.
“Dads do not really have the confidence they need to style their daughter’s hair,” Rowe said. “They are not comfortable working with hair, and don’t even know the different types of hair textures and the products they need.”
Over the past three years, Rowe has seen fathers walk in having no idea what to do with their daughter’s hair, and walk out armed with at least one hairstyle under their belt.
“As nurturers and providers who ought to take care of our family, this used to be a weak point for most of us,” Rowe said. “But not anymore.”
I’ve created a place where kids can come and be themselves
The non-profit partnered with Sculpting Coils for Kids, SC4Kids, owned by Sonja Corbin-King, to educate the men on how to handle their daughter’s hair texture. Corbin-King and her team explained why the detangling comb and the spray bottle are a winning combo.
Corbin-King started SC4Kids to fill a gap in the children’s hair care space after she realized many salons did not have a conducive environment for kids, especially African-American kids, to come to do their hair.
“I’ve created a place where kids can come and be themselves and talk about their hair and their voices,” she said.
The salon has now been at its current address at 1000 East 11th Street for five years, but Corbin-King started styling kids’ hair almost 10 years ago. She said many kids leave her salon feeling better about their hair.
“I’ve noticed that when kids are confident about who they are and their hairstyle, they feel confident in learning, they feel confident and talking to other people and just you know being themselves,” she said.
Being able to help their daughters look presentable is just one benefit of hair care day. Through the process, dads are able to strengthen their relationships with their daughters..
“It helps the girls know the difference between a positive touch and a negative touch,” Rowe said. “Things like how a man is supposed to touch and treat them.”
Washington said he takes his involvement in his daughters’ lives very seriously. He wants to teach them, guide them, and be an example of what a man should look like in their life.
“So much of a child’s identity, confidence, self-worth, and values come from their parents,” he said. “The mother and father provide different things that children need to grow up whole or to become who they are.”
Eric Byrd, a board member who attended with his goddaughter said the benefit of the program for fathers is undeniable.
“It makes them better, and enhances their parenting,” Byrd said. “You may not feel you need it, but it can definitely add to your toolbox as it relates to your fatherhood skillset.”
Corbin-King and her two employees in attendance, Hephsibah Barar, and Jania Greer, made sure the fathers were well equipped by the end of the day, sending them home with beaders, different types of combs, and hair accessories.
Barar, started out at the salon while she was a student at Huston Tillotson University, and has been a part of SC4Kids for the past four years.
“It’s a great opportunity to bond with the children of the community. It’s not just about hair for us. We have conversations, we talk about school, and about life in general,” Barar said. “I want to be a doctor so I thought that it would be a good opportunity for me to figure out how to bond and engage with children before I go to medical school.”
For her part, Greer, a current HT student, simply wants to love on the kids the same way her mama loved on her as a kid during hair time.
While daddy-daughter dances are great, Rowe believes hair care day has the power to break biases on so many levels.
“We just want to equip our dads to be able to be effective in their household,” Rowe said.
The non-profit will be organizing its Man In Me Summit 2022 on August 13 with a focus on personal and professional development. The event is free to attend, but registration is required.