BY KIERNAN McCARTY
Did you know there are local culturally inclusive hair stylists and personal care options in the Hays area? At first, neither did we. That’s why this is the second year in a row that the members of the Fort Hays State University Black Student Union have done the work to organize and present the Natural Hair Journey at FHSU.
BSU officers and organizers, Kadrian Ayarza and Sydney Walker wanted to make sure BSU was inclusive in both this and future events.
“It means being able to incorporate all types of people into a space,” Walker said.
Ayarza added they don’t want anyone to feel as though they can’t approach somedony because of who they are.
“Even though the main idea of BSU is to promote Black empowerment, it includes everybody and we love to have a lot of involvement,” Ayarza said.
In addition to the two professional Hays hairstylists, Leo Vasquez Jr. at Fade Factory and Odalys Escobedo at Loc’d By Odee, each haircare enthusiast was a BSU member; Yazmin Rojas, Starlet Parham, Daniela Salinas, Yessi Hernandez, Sydney Walker, Kadrian Ayarza, and Kerrigan Hutton.
They all spent the last month and a half planning and creating educational posters related to different hair care and styling.
“Last night, we put in three hours to make it all come together,” said Ayarza, who is vice president of BSU. “Our new members had a lot more to add this year, so I’m excited about that.”
After an introduction, participants were asked to check out the presenters’ projects on hair care, where they could learn new bits of information that may not be readily available at chain hair salons.
Hernandez talked about how it’s important to include both olive undertones and not just red undertones in color palettes when it comes to matching hair and makeup products. One might also learn through attending this event that different hair textures and types often require different maintenance. Braids and locs, for instance, are considered to be protective hairstyles.
In her research, BSU secretary Walker explained instances of how black hair and protective hairstyles have been deemed as “unprofessional” in the workplace, yet anyone educated on black hair and how it must be taken care of would know this is an unfair assessment.
“A healthy scalp will give you healthy locs,” said Escobedo, an independent loctician in Hays.
Although there aren’t many black people in Hays, Escobedo believes that’s no reason for the people that are here to not have access to a stylist that can do black hair.
“I wanted to serve the underserved within the community,” she said. “I think I’m only one of maybe two people who do locs in Hays… and the closest black hair store is in Salina.”
Escobedo goes on to say there aren’t many quality options, even in the ethnic hair section of Walmart. More information about her business can be found on her Instagram @locdbyodee.
Vasquez Jr. was representing his business, Fade Factory, which is located at 129 E. 8th St in Hays. As someone who’s been cutting hair for six years, he spoke passionately about his business and was open to answering any questions. When asked about his clientele, Leo said they do undercuts, shaved designs, and sculpting for anyone who likes their style, women included.
“It’s kind of like a one-stop shop,” he said. “We cut hair from three years old to 70’s.”
Vasquez Jr. encouraged anyone interested in style, haircare, and even motorcycles and photography to stop by the shop and enjoy their time at Fade Factory.
Ayarza spoke about the importance of being aware of different types of hair.
“I have mixed hair, and at TMP, people would always mess with my hair and ask to braid it and such, but if you’re not aware of how to take care of that hair type then you’re not going to do it right or you’ll make it a mess,” she said. “It’s a sense of respect to be aware of other hair types.”
Ayarza joked that because her dad is bald and her mom is white, with totally different hair than her own, neither of her parents knew how to take care of her hair growing up.
Walker said she was happy they were able to put on the event, referencing last year’s success and being able to educate people about the event again this year.
“It’s important to get the word out there and for more students to attend these events because it’s an opportunity to become more culturally aware,” Walker said.