'Children will remember their dad doing their hair before school,' said Annis Waugh, who hosted a dads-only hair-braiding class in February.
When Annis Waugh decided to host a hair-braiding class for fathers earlier this year, she only expected a handful of dads to actually show up. However, to her surprise, the class sold out almost immediately and dozens of dads added their names to a waitlist. Waugh has been teaching hair-braiding classes for nearly a year through her Braid Maidens venture. Speaking to The Washington Post, Waugh explained that she stumbled on her eager new client base when she agreed to hold hair-braiding tutorial sessions as part of a fundraiser for a local elementary school. She was stunned when the one class specifically designated for dads, which she called "Beers and Braids," sold out faster than the class for mothers.
Prior to this session, she said she "noticed that no men were booking" despite her never promoting her lessons as being for women. As for why she then decided to host a dads-only class, Waugh said, it was to create an environment where "everyone is in the same boat, and they're all learning at the same basic level." She explained that didn't want fathers who had never braided their child's hair to shy away from giving it try and figured they might be less intimidated to participate if the course was designed specifically for them.
"I was really nervous before the class," Waugh said, explaining that she wondered whether the men genuinely wanted to learn how to brain or if they were "under duress because their partners put them up to it. I thought it was going to be awkward. I had completely misjudged. I needn't have worried because straight away they were into it." Her concerns quickly evaporated during the two-hour session on February 23 as the dads who secured the eight coveted spots were eager to learn the craft.
"They were concentrating so hard," Waugh said. "They were really into it and really wanted to do well at it." She began the class began with a lesson on brushing and ponytails and explained how to deal with different hair textures and types. She then transitioned to braids, covering everything including how to form traditional braids and fishtail braids, before ending the session with a princess-style updo. "They impressed their kids with that," Waugh said. "They were super engaged and really enthusiastic learners." Although they certainly "laughed a lot," she added, it was "totally silent" at times. "The concentration levels were through the roof."
Some of the dads even turned out to be perfectionists with the braids they practiced on plastic heads. "One guy was brushing out a really good braid and said there wasn't enough tension at the top," Waugh recalled. "They took it seriously, and they were there to learn a new skill to use on their kids." She admitted that the class challenged her own biases and highlighted that anyone can learn how to style hair with some guidance. "It doesn't matter if you're a 10-year-old girl, a 35-year-old woman or a 45-year-old man," she said. "There is no reason why it should be weird for a dad to do his child's hair. Why should that be strange?"
The workshop proved a big hit, and "I've now got a waiting list of 45 dads," said Waugh, revealing that she has scheduled four future sessions for fathers. "Every day, I get messages saying 'Please teach me.' I think it's going to become a very regular fixture... Children will remember their dad doing their hair before school. I think if I can pass that on to a few more people, by way of a little braiding legacy, then I'll be really happy."