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New salon on Duke Street hosts back-to-school makeover for children in need

Some of the best hairdressing talent in Alexandria came together today (Monday) to give children from affordable neighborhoods and Carpenter’s Shelter a free back-to-school makeover.

Four hairdressers spent the morning working on styling hair for 22 girls and one boy at the new Iye’s Beauty Salon (4600 Duke Street). It was a mini-reunion for hairdressers of Angels Salon, a recently closed salon specializing in Black hair, including Iye’s eponymous owner Iye Bayoh.

Bayoh said she specializes in natural styles and braiding. Bayoh said because most children don’t like getting their hair done, the Salon tries to make it more engaging for children.

“It’s relaxing,” Bayoh said. “This is a place where people can come to get peace of mind.”

Bayoh said City Council member Alyia Gaskins coordinated the event. Bayoh was joined by Shanika Morgan from Nevaeh Crowns (5510 Cherokee Avenue), Marquis Handley from Quisonthecombs, and Shantell Ford from The Divine Touch Salon.

Gaynelle Diaz, director of Resident and Community Services at Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA), said the event helped children in ARHA feel empowered as they head back to school.

“It really helps out,” said Diaz. “With having to buy school supplies and with things being more expensive, takes some of the financial burden off of families. They don’t have to shift priorities, because you want your kids to go back and feel good about themselves so parents to worry about.”

Diaz said the event came out of conversations about how Black girls are generally neglected in back-to-school events.

“At back-to-school events, it’s more common to offer free haircuts for young boys and men because it’s a quicker process because we feel girls get left out,” Diaz said. “Sometimes, when you’re doing community events, it doesn’t go as quickly and we have a harder time finding people who are available to donate their time.”

The new salon opened on the ground floor of an apartment building on Duke Street on Aug. 2. Bayoh, who is originally from West Africa but has lived most of her life in Alexandria, said after working at Angels Salon she thought it was important to stay local in Alexandria.

“Most of my clientele is from around here and I grew up in Alexandria,” Bayoh said. “It’s been good, the people here are great, and it’s good for the kids to have a feel of what it’s like in a salon.”

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