Suggested hed: Aniyah participates in the hair braiding class by Cierra Washington of Creatiive Bombshelle (photo by Michaela Ratliff)
Kids love to take things at face value.
“How do you clean a part?”
“First, by washing it,” was one of many hilarious conversations between literal-minded youth during a hair braiding class taught by Cierra Washington on Sunday at Transcending Innovations Beauty Lounge in Greensboro.
In reality, Washington was trying to instruct her students on how to “clean” a part in the hair, or make it straighter.
Washington, who is originally from Baltimore, moved to Greensboro about two years ago and has since established herself in the community as a bombshell braider, doing hair full-time.
“I am booked and busy,” she says.
She learned how to braid her own hair at 8 years old. As a biracial child, she grew bored with the repetition of simple styles her mom was able to do.
“I was tired of wearing the mixed-girl ponytail,” she says, referencing a single ponytail gathered at the top or back of her head.
While living in Pennsylvania in 2020, Washington began teaching braiding classes for children ages 5-16. Her 9-year-old daughter Alanah has always loved to braid, so Washington wanted to help fine-tune the skills of her daughter and other children who liked doing their own hair. After moving to Greensboro, Alanah convinced Washington to restart classes there, and on March 28, she presented the idea in a post in the “Greensboro NC” Facebook group.
Like moths to a flame, interested parents flooded the comments, and Washington earned her first set of local students and now operates under the business name Creatiive Bombshelle.
On Sunday, excited chatter filled the room as young girls studied Washington’s techniques, turning to her and each other for help. They rocked various natural hairstyles, from box braids to two-strand twists. The mannequin heads, one in front of each girl, had ranging skin tones and facial expressions, but they all sported the same kinky-straight hair texture. They also have their own black basket, full of “About Me” worksheets, notebooks for notetaking and styling tools like combs, gels and ponytail holders. To complete the cosmetologist fit, each girl wore a bright-pink stylists’ apron.
Parents spectated quietly from the side, but didn’t hesitate to speak up. Boxes of Little Caesars pizza rested on a table in a corner, ready to be devoured by hungry learners working up an appetite. Hot-pink and lavender balloons offered pops of color to a pastel-pink backdrop, perfect for a group photo at the end of the class.
As Washington guided students through cleaning parts with styling jam, used for taming flyaways, some flexed their prior knowledge.
“When are we going to lay edges?,” one student blurted out.
“Not right now. Those come last,” Washington responded while laughing at the students’ eagerness and internally questioning how they knew that.
She offers three levels of classes, the skills and techniques in each class becoming more advanced than the last. In Sunday’s class, Washington demonstrated how to secure a ponytail and do a simple plait, or free-hanging braid.
As a mother with three daughters and one son, Washington says she loves working with kids. Throughout the classes, she’s found new coping mechanisms for frustrated students, as new information can be overwhelming for them.
“I’ve learned to set aside a corner where they can take a minute, watch a video, chill and figure it out,” she says. “You cannot teach a child once they get frustrated.”
As most hairstyling classes cater to adults, parents appreciate Washington’s initiative. Her classes come in handy for girls who are becoming old enough to take the weight of hairstyling off their parents’ shoulders.
One such girl is 15-year-old Z’Kyra Elder. Her mom, LaChelle, enrolled her in the classes to not only be properly trained on how to do her own do, but to also be able to help style her siblings.
“We have a house full of [six] heads, so it would be great for her to be able to help,” Elder said.
Cynithia Graves placed her young daughter Kori in the classes to take advantage of the opportunity. When she was growing up, these types of classes weren’t being offered, she explained.
“What she’s doing is really nice for young girls to be able to have the opportunity to learn so young,” Graves said.
As Washington navigated the room offering a hands-on learning experience for students, she soaked in their enthusiasm, busy-bodiedness and humorous remarks along the way.
“Teaching kids is something I love to do,” she says.
Classes are held every 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month from 2-4 p.m. at different locations. Boys are welcome. Follow Cierra Washington on her Facebook business page Creatiive Bombshelle for a class schedule and updates.
CORRECTION: The headline of this article has been changed to convey that classes are for all interested kids, not just Black kids. TCB regrets the error.
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.