In honor of Black History Month we bring to you an interview by a Natural hair Pioneer. Isis tells us about her journey in the hair care industry since 1980. Never intending to make history simply following her passion which lead her to her purpose. We hope that you are inspired and empowered by her legendary journey.
1. I started embracing natural hair back in 1980. I would go to the community events and concerts looking like a star. People would stop me and ask who braided your hair? I replied, I did. And from there people from all walks of life began to seek me out saying I worked miracles with my hands. And from there the word spread and in time I was crowned Queen of braids by other business professionals.
2. I never thought I would make history by doing what I loved. I am a social entrepreneur and all I wished to do is to affect change in my environment and help others create financial stability with the gift they were born with.
3. The most influential piece of information I can share as a Mom/entrepreneur is believe in yourself, love yourself and know your purpose. If there's something you are passionate about whether you get paid for it or not that is truly your purpose. I took my children everywhere with me, to work, rode on my back, participated in stage productions and we traveled extensively. As a Mom it was so much joy watching my children create music, theater, film and art. This freedom of expression brought the best out in them, and as they grew older I required nothing more than the creativity they were individually passionate about, so I became their biggest fan.
4. My biggest "ah-hah" moment was the day 7 cops came into my salon and arrested me in front of my clients and handcuffed me then carted me off to jail, for the crime of braiding hair. So I woke up from this shock knowing that my purpose in life was more than braiding, it instantly became a stand for justice.
5. I have a serious pet peeve about braiding natural hair only on top of non-chemically treated hair. I feel adamant about education in the natural hair movement, so that hair care is valued as an Ancestral legacy.
6. I imagine that after feeding families, putting food on many tables by standing on the front line for economic opportunity and the right to work in the State of Texas as Ancestral braiders, I just knew that the communities at large would stand up, support with me, and push the movement forward with me, and that did not happen. My failure was placing my faith in the community because I believed in the spirit of reciprocity and the miraculous blessings of giving and receiving. At that point I realized my Ancestors gave birth to a warrior queen and sometimes we have to stand alone.
7. Being arrested and taken to jail for braiding hair, and fighting for my livelihood and the right to work for 20 years, and ultimately winning with the signing into law by the Governor of House Bill 2717, freeing braiders from the cosmetology regime.
8. Seeing the smiling faces in the different disenfranchised communities when I bring my braiding art to them and show them how to braid their families hair with no comb, no tears, no pain.
9. I take a look at nature, and I glean my wisdom and knowledge from the plants and animals, I ask myself if I was born a sheep, would I go to the dog to learn how to groom myself. So my answer is no, if you are born with African spirals, European techniques will never benefit your African way of life. So I made a conscious decision to help the cosmetology industry to understand that they teach nothing about spiral, kinky, curly natural hair, so I must go and create my own school.
10. I was deeply passionate about my career as an Ancestral braider, and I believed in my heart that America has waged war against black hair and black identify. I felt compelled to address the inherent Euro-centric grooming standards imposed upon black women. I am an advocate for women, and I wanted to stand up for what was right. I believed in my heart that everyone has the right to work and economic opportunity should be accessible to everyone.
11. My children inspire me. They are everything I wish to be. They teach me everyday to be stronger, to stand on my faith. They encourage me, they work hard, they smile, they are happy, and they are passionate beings.
12. This is the year of rebirth and transformation. We are focusing on taking our Sisters of Isis product lines to the next level. Also I am about the entire
re-branding of my business. We also will be focused on the Institute of Ancestral Braiding school, which will include continuing education, community classes such as mother and daughter classes, classes for teens, and certification classes. I am proud that my Institute, which I founded in 1985, is the original Ancestral braiding school in the State, and possibly the entire United States.