-My name is Jestina Clayton. “Jestina” means justice in Sierra Leone. I came to the US about eleven years ago to flee a civil war. I’d like to braid hair at home because I have two young children and a third on the way, and I can make some money
for groceries and other things that we might need as a family. I can’t braid right now because the Utah Cosmetology Board
told me that it is illegal to do so without a cosmetology license, even though that if I go to a school to get the license, they won’t teach me hair-braiding. -Traditional African hair-braiding is the braiding,
twisting or locking of hair without the use of chemicals. These natural styles originated centuries
ago in Africa, and have endured as a distinct and popular form of hairstyling primarily done by and
for persons of African descent. -African braiding does not threaten
anybody’s health or safety. With African hair-braiding you don’t cut hair, you don’t
use chemicals, you don’t use any other tools that would alter the natural
state of a person’s hair. So if I braided somebody’s hair and they decided
that they don’t want it at the end of the braiding session, they can remove that braid and their natural hair remains the same. -Utah requires people like Jestina to
get an expensive and useless cosmetology license in order to braid hair for money, even though they can braid all they want for
free. That license requires at least two thousand hours of classroom instruction. That’s forty
hours a week for fifty weeks. That is more class hours than it takes to be an
armed security guard, mortgage loan originator, real estate sales
agent, EMT, and lawyer combined. And not one of those two thousand hours teaches
African hair-braiding. -When I found out that Utah required a cosmetology
license to braid hair, I contacted the cosmetology board and I was invited to
speak at the board meeting, and then they told me at the meeting that I needed
to contact my legislator to see if they can change the rules. I did that, but so far I haven’t had anybody to help me. -When the government imposes unreasonable
regulations, as it’s done here, courts need to step in to protect the right
to earn an honest living. No one should have to hire a lawyer or
a lobbyist just to braid hair.
-I’m a mother of eleven children, seven adopted from Ethiopia. There is
an unmet demand in Utah for corn rowing and hair-braiding. There’s a lot of us adoptive moms that try and really can’t do that service for our children and because it’s
a temporary service it’s hard for us to try and pay or go the distance for the salon services.
So I think there’s a lot of people here in Utah that can do that service
without a cosmetology license where they can earn a little extra money and provide a service
for us adoptive moms at a lower cost.
-The Institute for Justice has challenged the application of cosmetology
laws to natural hair-braiders in seven states in our twenty-year history, including our very first case back in 1991. To date, we haven’t lost a hair-briading case yet. IJ has filed a lawsuit in Utah to protect Jestina’s right to
earn an honest living. Both the Federal and Utah constitutions protect
every individual’s right to earn an honest living in their chosen occupation free from arbitrary and
irrational government regulations.