Oak Park salon owners teach adoptive parents how to style African-American hair

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In the western suburbs, a woman is teaching adoptive, foster and bi-racial families how to handle their kids' Afro-textured hair.

“I've been kicked out of a salon with her before, just so you know,” said Nicole Summers.

Tears, even screams are not uncommon when Summers does her daughter's hair.

“She’s like ‘Oh, I get the shivers when I think about it because it hurts so bad,’” said Summers.

When this suburban mom adopted Demi, she didn't realize black hair would be such a challenge.

“It's frustrating, and it's frustrating for her too,” said Summers.

So Summers turned to an Oak Park Salon and Tamekia Swint for help.

“This is a time, a special time when they should be bonding, not a time of frustration or feeling like I can't do this,” said Swint. 

At Styles for Kids, Swint teaches parents and guardians how to care for and style afro-textured hair.

“Some of our workshops, especially those we do for parents that are fostering or adopting for the first time, many of them haven't experienced even touching textured hair,” said Swint. 

Swint says it all started eight years ago with a transracial adoptive mother, struggling with her three daughters’ hair.

“I realized through her frustration there were a lot of other moms and dads feeling frustrated,” said Swint. “And somebody had to do something to help them.”

What started with helping just one mom has now spread far beyond this Oak Park Salon, reaching families across the country.

“Oh hundreds,” said Swint. “I think we are moving into the thousands category now.”

Swint and her stylists take their mobile pop up salon anywhere in the U.S. They work with at-risk youth and medically challenged children.

However, mostly it's bi-racial families, or foster or adoptive families like these.

Swint says there has been some push back from within the African American community.

“Some people who feel like I’m sharing secrets of how to manage our hair with the families we serve, but I don't feel that. It's all about the kids and giving them what they need,” said Swint.

It's about more than looking good. Swint aims to create closer families and more confident kids.

“Hair can make the difference,” said Swint. “It really does. I know people think it's something small but it really does help the confidence of our kids.”

And here, it all starts with tear-free hairstyles.

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