When Portland’s former police chief Danielle Outlaw arrived in the Rose City in 2017, she told Portland Monthly that one of the first questions she asked was “Where do I get my hair done?” While it may seem like a vanity-driven inquiry, for many Black women finding the perfect person to care for their hair can be difficult, especially in one of the whitest cities in the country. And that pool gets even smaller when the style of choice is braids.
“It was a culture shock coming from somewhere where I would see people who looked like me to having to search for people who looked like me,” says stylist Octavia Jackson. Jackson, 24, moved to Portland from Michigan over a decade ago. Although Jackson learned how to braid at young age, she wasn’t accustomed to doing her own hair and was on the hunt for a stylist who could provide her with a protective style. “Braids are a symbol of beauty, a symbol of power; that’s why they’re so special to me,” she explains.
Over time, Jackson found and befriended Jaleah Swan, who not only became Jackson’s go-to braider but encouraged her to hone her skills and become a part of Portland’s hair braiding community. “I think doing hair is so spiritual, especially braids. It’s something that encompasses so much tradition, history, time, and effort and energy,” she says. “This career changed my life because now I get to connect with people who look like me every single day.”
Jackson, who’s serviced hundreds of clients, says the majority of them shared her same struggle. While the hashtag #portlandbraider has been a key factor in how Jackson garners customers—especially those who have just moved to the city—we don’t want you to have to work that hard. Are you in search of your next protective style? From box braids to faux locs to feed-ins and beyond, give this list of Portland-area stylists a try!
Octavia Jackson - Gresham
Jaleah Swan - Portland
Jazmin Chiles - PDX/Vancouver
Miko Gemecho - Portland
TaNesha Harris - Gresham
Yanna Hortona - Portland
Melody Brown - Portland
Know a braider that's not on this list? Get in touch at [email protected]