The Kitchen Salon offers resource for ‘Afro-textured’ hairWritten by Toledo Free Press Staff Writers | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Megan Yasu Davis created The Kitchen Salon to help address common issues with African-American hair care, styling and maintenance and educate people about the care of natural hair.
“The Kitchen Salon was birthed from my personal passion to share with others how beautiful, healthy and versatile natural hair can be,” Davis said.
Started in 2007 as a blog, The Kitchen Salon is now an online natural hair care resource and events company. The website contains information about caring for and styling natural, chemical-free, curly hair.
“The ‘Kitchen’ refers to the place where I spent my childhood getting my hair heat-pressed and styled. It also refers to the area of hair near the nape of the neck that curls up the most,” Davis said. “The ‘Salon’ refers to the gathering place where women would convene and discuss current events, life challenges, joys and concerns.”
The Kitchen Salon organizes workshops and presentations.
“I have always done some type of gathering for small groups or one-on-one consultations, teaching others how to transition from chemically straightened hair to natural hair. My workshops went from one to five attendees to as many as 80 in one setting,” Davis said. “Each meet-up is different. Some are purely educational and some are social while learning is still a part of the event. I want the attendees to empower each other by sharing real experiences with one another.”
The Kitchen Salon will be at the Mott Branch Library, 1085 Dorr St., at 6 p.m. Oct. 22 for a workshop called Mott Mane Mondays: Hair Health & Harvest Party.
“Every fourth Monday we meet up and discuss natural hair care, style, common issues and learn new things about accessorizing,” Davis said. “We also explore product information and discover natural hair care through videos and others’ testaments of their own experiences.”
Davis uses a variety of tools for presentations from slide shows to showing videos on the projector to demonstrating styles and techniques.
“I allow attendees a chance to try the styles on their own hair, on each other or the mannequin as well, so they can feel for themselves,” Davis said.
Davis decided to style her hair naturally in 1997.
“I struggled with self-esteem for most of my life and going natural was one of the decisions I made that seemed authentic to the woman I was, buried underneath the pain and anguish of abuse and emotional distress,” Davis said.
While some myths and stereotypes deem natural hair as unkempt, unclean and frightening, Davis’ goal is to educate others with visuals, hands-on learning and literature.
“I want to show how untrue those ideas are of Afro-textured hair,” Davis said.
Davis is not the only one following this trend. According to naturallycurly.com, in recent years African-American women have been trending toward natural styling rather than relaxing their hair. Reasons cited range from the cost of the products to the hazardous chemicals found in relaxers to simply a renewed appreciation for the style.
When Davis decided to share her story, it inspired others to share theirs and “the community of ‘naturals’ grew and expanded in our area,” Davis said. “I see my business as a valuable resource to the local community because it enriches the lives of those who choose to wear their hair natural, offering greater options while coming to understand the nature of very curly hair.”
Davis’ typical clients are African-American females between the ages of 25 and 55.
“They are mothers, students or professionals. Many of them have been natural for a long time and just want to learn more, some have been natural a short period of time, but are afraid to wear their own hair out so they wear a form of extensions. And then there are those who wish to transition from chemically straightened, relaxed hair to natural hair and need guidance on how to do so as smoothly as possible without disturbing their confidence,” Davis said.
Davis also helps those who adopt children of African descent and need advice or assistance.
“I provide information on how often to wash their hair and what styling options are available for them, for example,” Davis said.
In 2011, The Kitchen Salon established The Northwest Ohio Natural Hair & Beauty Expo, which drew more than 400 guests and offered vendors, food, live performances of poetry, singers and traditional African drumming as well as workshops on various topics concerning natural hair care.
TaLisa Frazier attended the inaugural expo and was impressed.
“I had just done the big chop and was very eager to learn about my hair and how to properly manage it,” Frazier said. “I made sure to visit every vendor table, bought jewelry and whipped shea butter, met a hair braider and had my hair steamed to perfection by the lovely Mrs. Powell. While musicians and poets performed, people were buying products and having their hair twisted by fellow naturals sitting around the water fountain. It was beautiful and I felt very proud to be a part of an event with such amazing culture — my culture!”
Davis hopes to one day to open a school specializing in Afro-textured hair.
“Because I prefer not to style others’ hair, I refer them to local stylists who can care for their hair, but I do wish to open a natural hair care school where students can actually get certified to style natural hair without having to go through 1,500 hours of school that teaches almost nothing about Afro-textured hair,” Davis said.
Earlier this year, Davis developed her own natural hair and skin care product line that includes certified organic ingredients purchased from local small businesses and created in her home kitchen.
“The line consists of a moisturizing cream made with shea butter, shea butter body lotion for eczema, herbal scalp balm made with tea tree and rosemary, shea butter lip balm, hydrating mist made with aloe vera and coconut oil blend that is great for dry scalp and hot oil treatments,” Davis said.
“Be true to your hair or it will be false to you! I will have to trademark that, but it is just so true,” Davis said. “If you love it, it will be manifested in the way your hair looks and feels.”