Tamara Hunter weaves lessons and love into each braid she creates.
“When women come here, they know they are doing their hair or learning to style their hair in a place where they are loved, they are heard and understood,” says Hunter, who creates braids and teaches young women to braid at his. activities in Anderson and Spartanburg.
Across centuries and cultures, weaving techniques have generally been shared one-on-one, from one generation to the next. Hunter is no exception. He was 8 when he asked an aunt to teach her.
“My aunt said, ‘Go get your baby doll.’ I did and she first showed me how to box the braid, which is the individual braid. She told me to practice again and again and again, every day. Hunter would finish and run back to his aunt. Eventually, he got the answer he wanted. She “she said, ‘You understand, baby. You keep weaving. ‘”
Hunter did it. She also went to college and studied to be a nurse.
“Then I realized I was finishing school doing my hair,” she says.
Hunter says her passion for braids inspired her brand, Eye Am Pretty.
“God gave it to me. I couldn’t think about it; my mind doesn’t work like that, ”she says.
She shared the concept when an aunt urged her to speak at a fashion show.
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“I went up on stage and told people: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.’ I told them to look at each other. I asked: ‘What do you see?’ Everyone was just looking at me, not understanding. And I said, ‘Here, you are beautiful.’
“That was the real start of Eye Am Pretty.”
And in 2006, her uncle – Roy Hunter, owner of Cuttin Up Barbershop in Anderson – took her to Columbia to take her hair braiding course and a test run by the South Carolina Board of Barber Examiners. She walked by, paid the $ 25 fee, and got her license in the mail.
“As braiders, we work in barbers. We can’t work in salons, ”explains Hunter.
Instead of attending cosmetology school, Hunter began braiding her hair at a space she had rented from her mentor, Reggie Rice, owner of Reggie Unique Cuts in Spartanburg.
He opened his shop in Anderson last month, but he still works in both shops and is learning the barbering trade under Hill’s guidance. “While working with Eye Am Pretty, braiding my hair, teaching braiding classes, I’m also getting my barber’s license.”
Hunter says he respects the fact that braiding has its roots in barber shops.
“As a braider, I specialize in taking care of your natural hair – no dyes, no perms, no chemicals,” she says. “In the salons they have chemicals. Barbers don’t work with chemicals. And you don’t have the braider who works as a cosmetologist or does cosmetology work. “
In its stores, Hunter uses only natural products to wash hair and condition the scalp.
Hunter’s hair is styled in long braids that are a combination of light and dark shades that dance in front of the bright yellow walls of her braiding business and school at Anderson.
The braids can attach extensions to natural hair so that the braids can be longer. The extensions can also be dyed.
“I see a lot of diversity in barbershops and even braid shops now. I appreciate it because you learn so much from other cultures and other people. That’s why I love him, ”she says.
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Hunter does not plan to add “salon” or “braid shop” or “barber” to its Eye Am Pretty brand. His goal is too ambitious for the labels.
“My goal is to have Eye Am Pretty in all 50 states, and then I’d like to go international,” he says.
His plan also has a more personal and critical element.
“My vision, with Eye Am Pretty, is to stop and prevent teenage pregnancy, teenage suicide and teenage incarceration.”
That’s why Hunter started offering braiding classes for girls and young women.
“I want to provide a safe haven, a place of peace for children who feel that lack of love, lack of support, lack of God, lack of guidance,” she says.
“I’ve never had my father. I felt a lot of pain, wondering why he chose not to be around. This is what prompted me to create this vision. This is what prompted me to open my shop “.
The mother of three boys – ages 4, 15 and 18 – strives to help her students find peace of mind through the rhythm and repetition of braids.
“The plot is my place of peace. In creating and creating, you find inner peace. I wanted to return it. When you create, innovate, you see life rise to another level. It draws you to your greater self. It draws me to my greater self, “she says.
“Many people think that life is about love. But for me it’s about peace. Whatever is going on, if I choose to keep the peace, then that’s what I give. And that’s what I get ”.
Hunter charges $ 350 for her braid course; he’s throwing a $ 250 special in honor of the new store. Additionally, she offers a voucher program for girls who are bullied at school or whose families cannot afford to pay for their tuition.
“I’d like to give back to as many children – people – as possible,” he says. “When I teach that child, they will go home and share it with their family. The skill, the craft, are still spreading, even if it is a person “.
Sharing a positive sense of self, well-being and good mental health are Hunter’s ultimate goals. She even has a note on her desk asking girls and women to call her if they have self-destructive thoughts.
“Talk to someone. You’re not alone, “says Hunter.” If we’re constantly working on ourselves, we’re making this world a better place. “