Advocacy Matters: How Legislative Bills Determine Your Future!

02/13/2024

While New York takes a historic step forward with introducing the new Natural Hair Care and Braiding Bill A8624A which recognizes the crucial role of licensing in upholding public safety, maintaining professional standards, and regulating the beauty industry. Georgia’s new bill SB354 proposes the removal of certain licensing requirements for barbers, cosmetologists, and makeup artists raises concerns about the potential compromise in quality and safety standards.

What is at the Root of the Issue?

Deregulation overlooks the fundamental importance of licensing within the beauty industry, revealing a broader issue of misunderstanding and disrespect towards beauty professionals. Licensing serves as a crucial safeguard, ensuring practitioners possess the necessary skills and knowledge to uphold standards of safety and quality in their work. Dismissing licensing devalues beauty professionals and their skills, making the industry seem less important than it is.

According to an Atlanta News First article “In the fall of 2023, Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones and Republican leadership announced it was their priority to remove the red tape and get more people working. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Larry Walker III, said the state’s study committee ‘looked for professions that couldn’t harm anyone.’” Isn’t that something, no harm?

Deregulation serves as a political deflection tactic, using the beauty industry as a scapegoat due to the lack of perceived value. The dismissal of licensing requirements undermines public welfare, as professionals must possess highly skilled expertise to ensure the well-being of those they serve. 

Georgia’s proposed bill, while seemingly targeting licensing for basic services, creates an opening for the blooming film and TV industry and union members to exploit unlicensed individuals, especially for natural hair services. It also devalues natural hair expertise by suggesting it requires no training and knowledge. Any person who ONLY braids the hair by hair weaving; interlocking; twisting; plaiting; wrapping by hand, chemical, or mechanical devices; or using any natural or synthetic fiber for extensions to the hair does not currently fall under Georgia Board of Cosmetology governance and thus does not need a license. The question arises: who benefits? Not the industry, not professionals, and certainly not clients. This is a clear example of outsiders dictating rules without understanding the complexities and risks involved. Industry professionals need to be vocal and advocate for their own standards to protect themselves, their clients, and the integrity of their craft.

Why Does Licensing Matter?

Licensing ensures practitioners meet minimum standards for education, training, and skill proficiency. Licensing also protects consumers by enforcing compliance with health, hygiene, and sanitation standards, while providing legal recognition and authorization for beauty professionals. Additionally, it promotes ethical conduct, mandates continuing education, and fosters career advancement opportunities. Licensing also ensures stylists are trained in proper chemical handling, and tools/equipment usage, minimizing risks of infections, permanent hair loss from alopecia, burns, and allergic reactions.

Jennifer Lord, a licensed cosmetologist and natural hair advocate, proposed an amendment to the union’s constitution but it was met with resistance. Jennifer had this to say about her current experience with trying to amend the I.A.T.S.E Local 798 constitution:

“I proposed an amendment to the I.A.T.S.E Local 798 Union’s Constitution to include consideration for both Natural Hair Care and Braiding Licenses. Despite facing resistance, particularly from licensed professionals in GA, who deem the license insufficient. There’s a belief that services without chemical application don’t need a license. We must elevate education standards across all systems to ensure the safety and competence of beauty professionals across the industry.”

How To Take Action

Senate Bill 354 threatens to endanger our hair, health, and safety. This alarming proposal could allow untrained individuals to work both on film/tv sets and in salons. It’s imperative that we become involved in creating the standards, rules and regulations that affect our industry. The best way to do that is to get involved. The Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College is offering an online 11-week Advocacy Academy Course, Tuesday, March 5th, 2024.

For Georgia Residents

  • Contact your state representatives: Urge them to vote against SB354 to protect the standards of professionalism and safety in our industry and community. Your voice matters — act now to safeguard our well-being and uphold the integrity of the beauty profession. Find your Senator and their contact information here
  • Attend a protest: Join rallies and demonstrations organized by industry groups and consumer protection advocates. Politics Beauty and Barber the organizers of the 2024 Rally at the GA Capitol, have played a monumental role of organizing cosmetologists/barbers in Georgia and other states to stop deregulation bills that threaten the industry.  

For Everyone Else

  • Share this message: Spread awareness about SB354 with your friends, family, and community. Use the hashtag #StopSB354 on social media.
  • Donate to organizations: Support organizations upholding the standardization of our industry.
  • Additional resources: Georgia Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists

Spread the Word about the New NYS Natural Hair Care and Braiding License!

New York’s introduction of the New Natural Hair Care and Braiding Bill A8624 seeks to revolutionize natural haircare. Which creates a comprehensive, inclusive, and safe licensing program for stylists and braiders. This groundbreaking bill eliminates barriers for both new and experienced professionals.

For New Yorkers

  • Contact your state representatives: Urge them to support Bill A8624. This bill paves the way for increased safety, economic opportunity, and recognition for natural hair professionals. Together, we can ensure everyone has access to qualified and skilled stylists who understand and celebrate their unique hair.

For Everyone Else

  • Share this message: Spread the word about the new Natural Hair Care and Braiding License #A8624
  • Donate to organizations: Support groups that work behind the scenes to help make bills like A8624 a reality!
  • Additional resources: NYS Assembly Directory and NYS Senate Directory

Edited by Natasha Gaspard @manemoves

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Erin H. Maybin

Erin H. Maybin is a licensed Cosmetologist in NY, Pa & Ca, Educator, Advocate, and influential member of the NYS Appearance Enhancement Advisory Committee. As EVP of Education Development and co-founder of the Natural Hairstyle & Braid Coalition Erin spearheads the transformation of textured hair education in both private and public sectors. Her groundbreaking initiative, Hair S.T.E.A.M. LAB™ is an education platform that explores the science and artistry of hair using steam.

Learn more here www.hairsteam.education

Follow me @erinhmaybin and @the_nhbc

Let’s connect www.erinhmaybin.com

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