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Sabal Palm's Fedd wants to expand her successful hairstyling event to other schools

A hair stylist works on a style for a young Black girl with long, thick hair.
Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media
Stylist Chanai works to achieve her student's desired look at the Curls for Queens event on September 18.

Makayla Fedd’s “Curls For Queens” hairstyling event at Sabal Palm Elementary School was so successful, she’s hoping to branch out to other schools and recently launched a non-profit to get there.

Fedd is trying to boost the self-esteem of young Black and brown girls, by helping them, and their families out with a major expense.

Sabal Palm’s first Curls for Queens event drew in moms like Doris Adderley, who brought five of her nine daughters to the free hairstyling event.

"One has long thick hair, and just to do her wash and braid that is probably like a three, to four-hour assignment," Adderley said, describing what it takes to do her childrens' hair. " I have another one who has more short hair, but it’s thick. With her having a wash that’s probably more like an hour and a half to two hours."

For moms like Adderley, managing all that hair is not only expensive, but time consuming.

Sometimes, says Adderley, she’s doing her daughters' hair, from morning to night.

Black hair care is full of cultural nuances and something that is taught between moms and daughters and sons. But Jessica Rittman, who has biracial daughters, didn’t grow up learning how much maintenance went into certain types of hair, until she had her girls. It was a bit of a culture shock.

"It’s very different. I can wash mine, dry it, it’s done. Not them, 'cuse we definitely gotta section it, comb it out, put it in a braid so when you go to the next section that part stays done," she said.

And, in addition to the time commitment, there’s a hefty price tag attached if Rittman wants her daughters’ hair done professionally.

"Getting their hair done the way they like it can get pricey."

 Hair care alone can be the price of a small utility bill, and costs are rising.                            

"They are so expensive," said Mary Knight, who cares for her four granddaughters. "One hairdo used to be $80 now it’s $100, everything done went up."

Sometimes, it’s a price too steep for some families. That’s something Fedd knows well. She’s the school’s community wellness coordinator, and the Curls for Queens event was her idea.

"In the African american community hair is expensive and when you have multiple children it can feel like a bill, you know to get your daughter’s hair done every month and it be a hundred bucks to do so, and when you have five kids that’s $500. And that’s so common for our parents around here. So it’s so important that we can uplift so they can use that $500 for something else."

The working parents and caretakers who attended Curls for Queens say if they have the time to do their child’s hair, they often don’t have the money. And if they have the money, sometimes they don’t have the time. Often, it’s neither. This is why Curls For Queens struck such a deep, and meaningful note within the community. Hair, especially for young Black girls, is mixed up in notions of class, beauty, and self-esteem. Fedd now wants the program to expand to other schools.

"Another goal is to empower parents and to educate them, not just do it for them. And so, instilling into parents and their families ‘this is how you do hair, this is what it means to feel beautiful, like this is what self-esteem can look like.”

Fedd says the school is planning more Curls for Queens events throughout the year. The next one is November 7. The school is still directly accepting hair supply donations. Other gifts can be made through its Amazon wish list.

Chelsea Long is an intern this fall with WFSU News. This past summer, she studied journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. She’s currently a senior at Florida State University studying political science and Middle Eastern studies and a staff writer for the student paper, the FSView and Florida Flambeau. She hopes to pursue a career in journalism after graduation, but, for now, she’ll continue working as a part-time barista.