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Governor Raimondo signs bill exempting hair braiding from licensing into law



The bill, long championed by Representative Anastasia Williams, was finally passed by the General Assembly this year.

Natalie Jones moved from employee to owner of Salon 361, a natural hair braiding shop in Providence. This was the business chosen for Governor Gina Raimondo to ceremonially sign legislation exempting natural hair braiders from having to become licensed hairdressers and cosmeticians, an unnecessarily costly and time consuming process for skills passed down generation by generation in black families.

Anastasia Williams

Representative Anastasia Williams (Democrat, District 9, Providence) has been pushing this bill through the General Assembly for over three years. On the last day of this year’s legislative session, the bill passed both houses and moved to the Governor.

“This is a story of entrepreneurship and female entrepreneurship, and I’m excited to be here and support Studio 361. Way to go!”” said Raimondo.

“It has been a very long and hard struggle,” said Williams. “We finally made it and we’re here to celebrate the victory of freedom… I thank the Governor for doing her due diligence as opposed to allowing it to pass into law without her signature… She is more than happy to sign it with the community present, and that is a big deal.”

The bill (H5677A/S0260A) defines natural hair braiding as “a service of twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking, or braiding hair by hand or with mechanical devices.” The bill allows braiders to use natural or synthetic hair extensions, decorative beads and other hair accessories; to perform minor trimming of natural hair or hair extensions incidental to twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking or braiding hair; and to use topical agents such as conditioners, gels, moisturizers, oils, pomades, and shampoos in conjunction with hair braiding as well as clips, combs, crochet hooks, curlers, curling irons, hairpins, rollers, scissors, blunt-tipped needles, thread, and hair binders. They may also make wigs from natural hair, natural fibers, synthetic fibers and hair extensions.

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Under the bill, natural hair braiders may not apply dyes, reactive chemicals, or other preparations to alter the color of the hair or to straighten, curl, or alter the structure of the hair; or use chemical hair joining agents such as synthetic tape, keratin bonds or fusion bonds.

Natalie Jones


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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.