I don’t doubt that Jocelyn DoCouto will eventually win her issue with the State of Rhode Island. What’s astonishing is that it should take years of advocacy and lobbying to get it done:
I have spent my life mastering the art of African-style, natural hair care. As a young girl, I learned to braid and even practiced on my own head. I later learned more advanced techniques from my aunt. My knowledge has expanded to include weaving, crocheting, extension braiding and many other natural techniques — all collectively referred to as “protective styling.”
I started receiving clients at home, based completely on referrals, and now have customers of all ages. I have even been lucky enough to use this art to give clients who have recently undergone chemotherapy the protective, natural styles they have always wanted. And I strive do the best job possible for every client who walks through my door, because my customers’ satisfaction literally determines whether my business lives or dies.
I wanted to open my own salon, but Rhode Island would not let me. Under state law, I am not allowed to braid hair without a cosmetology license, which requires 1,200 hours of irrelevant training and can cost upwards of $17,000.
As I wrote earlier, Rhode Island can have a vibrant, innovative economy, or it can have its insider system, but it can’t have both. It is well past time for us to let people like Ms. DoCouto explore their areas of specialty, even if it means some comfortable people have to compete a little harder.