Born to a young teen mother in the “Bon Ton” projects of Dallas, Texas, Isis Brantley discovered her bliss as a young adult, dropping out of college to follow her calling to change the direction of hair care for black – “melanated” – people. Opening a little hair braiding shop in “sunny South Dallas” at the age of 19, she went on to become one of the leading authorities in natural hair care for African peoples. She is a sought-after speaker for hair shows, cultural events, campuses and church gr
Born to a young teen mother in the “Bon Ton” projects of Dallas, Texas, Isis Brantley discovered her bliss as a young adult, dropping out of college to follow her calling to change the direction of hair care for black – “melanated” – people. Opening a little hair braiding shop in “sunny South Dallas” at the age of 19, she went on to become one of the leading authorities in natural hair care for African peoples. She is a sought-after speaker for hair shows, cultural events, campuses and church groups. Her message of economic liberty also resonates with any group that believes in financial independence. Her charismatic beauty and gift of speaking eloquently and truthfully reaches out to all in any audience.
Over the decades since she first became an enterprising braider, she has maintained her Institute of Ancestral Braiding where it would make the greatest impact, in “tha hood”. Her salon Institute became a beacon of hope, positivity, and a repository of cultural and spiritual ancestral knowledge, readily accessible to customers and to hundreds of young women, and men, who sensed there was more to life than trying to live day to day on handouts. Isis has tended to challenged young women on drugs, hookers, pushers, and equally to educated and culturally conscious “melanated” folk who sought a touchstone in the community, such as her friend Erykah Badu. Isis work has appeared on the covers of many magazines.
Isis has over the years touched thousands of heads, healing many through both proper hair care education and training, as well as through her spiritual guidance, and by openly sharing her knowledge of healthy eating. However, in 1997 her temple of hair love was shattered when her salon was entered by seven cops, who proceeded to inform her she was under arrest for the crime of braiding hair! Cuffed, and stuffed in the back of a police car, she was carted off like a common criminal, for the so-called crime of braiding without a State license.
This incident hit Isis like a lightning bolt, energizing her in a way the State bureaucracy could never have imagined. A giant was “woke”! For twenty years Isis went toe to toe with the State, battling to have hair braiding removed from the cosmetology/barbering laws. The care of natural hair for those of African descent has nothing to do with what is taught in these courses, and to become a braider legally, a young person trying to start a profession had only two paths, either be an underground braider and risk going to jail as had Isis, or spend $20,000 to obtain a cosmetology license. After many chapters of her battle being written, in 2015, with the legal assistance of the Institute for Justice, Isis won her war when House Bill 2717 was signed into law, removing braiding from the shackles of cosmetology rules, and immediately opening the door to economic freedom and prosperity for thousands.
Today Isis operates the only certified braiding school in Texas, training dozens in her tender hair care techniques, and educating them the history of “melanated” hair care of the African diaspora, and imparting her knowledge of the many links between healthy hair and proper diet and sound mind.
In 2016 Isis founded BraidOn (braidon.org), an organization that has a mission of organizing and energizing the natural hair care movement to change laws around the United States, as braiders in many states are still under the heel of state regulation, often risking jail time and heavy fines if they work underground. BraidOn also has as its mission “healing through the hair” – teaching and training braiders to help those suffering from alopecia and other stressed hair diseases – so there self-confidence is restored. BraidOn’s mission also provides training in the styling of wigs for those suffering baldness due to chemotherapy, particularly for children.
Isis is the mother of five children, all wonderful and successful adults pursuing their own careers now in the arts, carrying the lessons she bestowed on them about healthy lifestyles and cultural confidence. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas, but is often found at events around the US, as a special guest speaker.
Links for Press Release Only 2015
Institute for Justice Video
Huffington Post Interview
I invited Isis to speak at the Heritage Foundation and we were thrilled with her talk. Isis is a dynamic and engaging speaker who powerfully communicates her story. She is an effective voice for those U.S. political discourse often ignores.James Sherk, Research Fellow, Labor Economics
“In 2015 I watched Isis Brantley at the Texas Legislature advocate for the economic liberty of braiders across Texas. While speaking to lawmakers during a Senate Business & Commerce Committee hearing, Ms. Brantley’s clarity, poise, and message captured the room’s attention―she is a compelling speaker with great presence.”Arif Panju, Attorney