Meet Helena Koudou, an Ivorian making a Case for the African Hair Community in America
Helena Koudou, the founder of ‘SlayedinBraids’ has gained the attention of the world with her braiding expertise.
23-year-old Helena started braiding at 13 years old, the youngest person in her family’s shop, Alima’s Hair Braiding in Brooklyn. Ten years of watching her aunts, while practicing on her little cousins and clients, helped her create intricate, artful braided looks that she showcases on her Instagram, as well as in the exquisite short film, The Hair Appointment.
‘The Hair Appointment’ focuses on “the beauty of African braiding and the community surrounding getting your hair braided in a salon versus doing your hair at home,” Koudou explains. “The stylist-client bond is such a beautiful connection. We talk about everything in the chair.” The film also seeks to celebrate the natural hair community at a time when women still face discrimination for their hairstyles.
Helena’s braiding style is heavily influenced by the roots of braiding here in Africa, with styles and treatments that particularly cater to rich-textured African hair.
Talking to Vogue about her passion, Helena says “To me, rocking braids means protecting your crown.”
Helena is also using her voice to support women of colour who wear their natural hair “I just want people to know that having braids in the workplace, or wherever they go, is okay. I want people to continue to embrace their hair and continue to teach the younger generation that braids and natural hair is just as beautiful – don’t let society tell you otherwise.”