“A lot of people are going to lose their jobs because a lot of businesses are going to be closed, like my business is going to be closed,” said Mariama Diakhate, owner of Miriam African Hair Braiding in Raleigh.
Diakhate, originally from Senegal, has been in business for nine years.
The state law, which goes into effect on Thursday, requires anyone who braids hair to have a license.
“It was generated by health concerns that some people had,” said Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth.
Womble and Rep. Earline Parmon, D-Forsyth , sponsored the legislation. Both said they received complaints from customers in their district about unsanitary conditions at hair braiding shops and from clients who were injured.
“People often got lacerations on the scalp because the braiding was too tight for their hair,” Parmon said.
To get a license, employees must pass a cosmetology exam, which Diakhate said can be a problem because many hair braiders are from French-speaking countries in west Africa and don’t speak English.
“I will do whatever is necessary to make sure that these people have a fair chance,” Parmon said.
Salon owners are also questioning why their employees need to pass a cosmetology test when they do not use chemicals in their hair treatment.
The State Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners will enforce the new law. For the first year, they will only issue warnings. After that, those practicing without a license can be charged with a misdemeanor.