Hair Stylists File Lawsuit Over Iowa Braiding Licenses

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- In the state of Iowa it’s currently illegal to braid hair for money but two hair stylists are hoping to change that.

Aicheria Bell and Achan Agit filed a lawsuit against the state cosmetology board on Tuesday. Both women want to open hair salons that offer braiding as a service but Iowa law requires them to have a cosmetology license before doing so.

The lawsuit aims to eliminate braiders from the licensing requirements.

“I just want to work and make a living for my family and to teach braiding and to be able to give back to my community. I'm not trying to not pay taxes or break any laws, I just want to live,” said Bell.

Attorneys representing the women, say stylists need more than 2,000 hours of training which could cost up to $22,000.

Bell says she went to a beauty school in Minneapolis and spent close to $17,000 for only 900 hours of training. However under the state cosmetology board, Bell’s out of state credits could not be accepted. Along with wasted credit hours, Bell said cosmetology school does not teach braiding techniques. She believes the state's lack of racial diversity is why the law is in place.

“I see it as anti-competitive regulations; it’s just a way to keep the completive from certain cosmetologist. It`s a way to corner the market and keep people out,” he said.

In the past two legislative sessions, lawmakers have tried to pass a similar bill but it failed to advance.