Kafisalah Salahuddin, Yellow Springs resident and natural hair stylist, fills a special niche in the community for African American residents – providing natural hair care services and products through her company, Salsa’s Tingz.
“My business is two different businesses in one; I have my own hair care product and I also do highlights underneath,” Salahuddin said. “So the whole of it is called ‘Salsa’s Tingz’ [named with a Jamaican vibe in mind]but Locs Natural de Salsa is my product.
Salahuddin has lived in Yellow Springs for six years, coming here from Xenia. She has two children – Paradise, who is 13, and Azhan, who is 7 – who attend schools in Yellow Springs.
“My family moved [to the area] from Cleveland in the early 80s and we are one of the local Haitian Muslim families in the community,” she said.
Salahuddin works with black hair in its natural state, that is, styled without the use of chemicals. Regardless of style preferences, hair plays an important societal role in the social structure of African American culture, especially for black women, who are often discriminated against for something over which they have no biological control – the way their hair grows from their scalp.
A law called the CROWN, or Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March and is now making its way through the Senate. The bill, intended to deter discrimination against race-based hairstyles by protecting the right to wear hair natural or in styles such as locs, braids and twists in workplaces and public schools, has been enacted in 12 states and is being considered by 16 other state governments.
Salahuddin’s training is all about understanding the growth patterns and various textures of African American hair. She trained with stylists in Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland.
Salahuddin offers natural hair care services by appointment only, traveling to clients’ homes. She also rents chairs from hair salons and hair salons where she can use a notarized document of certification that shows she has been working under the auspices of a licensed cosmetologist for a period of time. According to Salahuddin, although she’s not licensed, she can still do her hair legally in Ohio because she doesn’t work with chemicals to treat the hair.
“From coils, twists, locs, braids, French braids, cornrows, plaits, wigs and weaves — anything that doesn’t deal with chemicals — based on Ohio law,” Salahuddin said.
Salahuddin says she keeps prices affordable, with most services costing between $25 and $100, except for some more expensive braiding techniques and herbal henna coloring treatments. She offers hair care for children, always offering back-to-school specials for parents. Senior discounts are available on Tuesdays.
“You don’t have to show your Golden Buckeye either,” Salahuddin said, referring to the Ohio seniors discount card. “There’s nothing to prove – if you book it, I’ll take your word for it.”
Salahuddin is currently under contract with Syd’s Barber Shop in Xenia, often partnering with stylists there who cut or taper his client’s hair as needed.
Salahuddin’s hydration product, Salsa’s Locs Natural, contains hibiscus and is a spritz or shea butter that can be used on the body. She said clients have told her it helps them with alopecia and eczema. Salahuddin makes its products by hand in small batches with distilled water.
According to Salahuddin, from a young age, she has always had an entrepreneurial approach to life. She started braiding hair when she was in college for extra funds.
“At 13 or 14, you can’t really find a job,” she says.
Salahuddin is a graduate of Greene County Career Center, where she studied in the Legal Technology Program.
“I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but it’s a lot of study and a lot of time and dedication,” she said.
Instead, she decided to study early childhood education at Central State University, intending to become a teacher, but her plans were derailed when she became pregnant with her daughter and finally decided that education was not something she wanted to pursue after her third year. from college.
Salahuddin’s path to natural hair care can be considered unorthodox. Like many people during the COVID pandemic, she was forced to adapt to circumstances beyond her control. A career in hair care came somewhere between supply chain issues with another business she runs called Salsa’s Toys, an adult toy company, and the temporary loss of a full-time job.
“[Salsa’s Toys] was always a side gig; I had a job in real estate, and it got really big — so big I couldn’t keep up,” she said. “The pandemic hit and I ordered over 1,000 toys that got stuck somewhere in Hawaii.”
Just before the pandemic, Salahuddin was on a different trajectory, returning to school to train for a career in real estate and working in property management, but was told the troubles of a past legal issue would make it more difficult for her to obtain a License.
Initially, she saw hairdressing as a way to raise money to pay some legal fees so she could become a real estate agent. However, at the moment she likes to do her hair and her business is taking off in such a way that she has not had to take up another job.
“I’m blessed and honored to be in the position I’m in. I’ve become so passionate about my job,” she said.
Salahuddin added that she has a strong base of support here in town, with friends spreading the word about her business.
“[They] tell others, ‘Hey, there’s someone here who can wash and comb your hair,’ she said. “I see a lot of African Americans in town, and I love it.”
Salahuddin primarily works on African American hair, but also provides services for all ethnic groups. However, she said she recognizes there is some politics to providing locs services in a predominantly white community – especially when many black people in the community struggle to find a stylist who understands the characteristics. specific to their hair.
“Even now there are Caucasian women doing locs, but often I think they forget that not everyone has the same type of hair,” she said. “While our hair is a bit more textured, we might need oils, you might need olive oil where [someone else] needs coconut oil – finding a natural stylist who’s in tune with your hair is the hardest thing in the world, but finding a stylist who’s willing to learn your hair is amazing.
Salahuddin has a growing reputation in the natural hair care industry which has taken her to different cities in Ohio and nationwide to style a number of different clients, including celebrities. She has also styled hair for music videos, including participating in a video by local rapper Issa Ali as a stylist. She was recently honored with second place in a hairdressing contest in central Illinois.
She said Tingz de Salza can be reached through social media.
“I’m on Instagram, Facebook and a site called Booksy,” Salahuddin said.