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Black Hair Love: Tedra’s Cultural Arts Braid Experience Presents First Kids ‘Brave Braids’ Art Show

A new art show is coming to Clearwater, Florida, Saturday, April 15.

Tedra’s Cultural Arts Braid Experience introduces its inaugural Kids “Brave Braids” Art Show, an event hosted by Jai Hinson of Artz 4 Life, where attendees will experience performances by dance academy students, drumming, and a hair show featuring student creations.

According to The Weekly Challenger, the nonprofit educational project founded by Valerie “Tedra” Rutledge brings youth together to learn about the skill and art of perfecting braid hairstyles.

Rutledge credits her braiding skills for helping transform her life. “I taught myself the concept of braiding, the three-strand twist, at five years old … just braiding my baby doll’s hair, putting a bunch of beads in it,” she said, adding that she braided her friends’ hair as she got older.

She began monetizing her skill at the age of 13. “It wasn’t much; I remember getting paid like $40 for a head of braids,” she said. In 2019, Rutledge established a path toward economic power for youth after a parent requested a braiding lesson for her 16-year-old. Rutledge gave the teen insight into how to make money, acquire her license, and work in a shop.

In 2020, Rutledge acquired a salon space that she made available for young girls who wanted to learn braid techniques and money-making strategies.

“When I first started, it was free for everyone, and the very first class, I had eight or nine girls come in,” Rutledge said. “I gave them their little kits, and we started braiding hair.” Starting out, the girls made it work using one mannequin head.

Rutledge began building bonds with her students, confirming she was on the right track.

“They were just so intrigued; you could feel the energy,” she added. “They had so many questions, and I was able to answer them.”

The education project is also a passion project for Rutledge, who shared her childhood memories growing up rough between Clearwater and St. Pete, lashing out and fighting.

“I feel that they need a mirror; children need to be able to talk to you and not only just express themselves, but they need the adult to be transparent with these children,” she said.

Rutledge has a space of her own on Ulmerton Road.

The Brave Braids Art Show is on April 15, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at The Factory St. Pete, 2622 Fairfield Ave. S.