There is no parenting manual that suddenly makes parenting easy, especially for those parents who are caring for or adopting children of a different race than their own. The intricacies of basic day-to-day care for a child, such as hair care, can be especially challenging when it comes to styling and maintaining healthy curly hair. Kanisha Tillman of Tutus & Tennis Shoes is offering a helping hand to parents who are fostering or have adopted Black children. Through online courses, one-on-one virtual sessions, and a vibrant support community of Tutus alumni, Tutus & Tennis Shoes doesn’t just fill the gap in hair care education, it also helps to provide wider cultural connections that foster or adoptive families may not otherwise be able to provide to their children, building strong bonds within the family and broader community.
Tutus & Tennis Shoes strives to be a one stop shop for Black Hair Care for Transracial foster and adoptive families and an inspiration to each and every young lady that Tutus serves. “What started as a brick-and-mortar children’s salon in Des Moines, Iowa, has now grown into a global community of fellow natural hair lovers. Tutus & Tennis Shoes offers full online courses, along with tools and products,” says Tillman. “My typical clients are the average moms who are wanting to learn everything they can about the world from their children’s point of view. They want to do their best to raise happy, healthy, productive, and confident human beings. My classes not only help them learn about their child’s hair, but they also learn so much more about the Black community and how to build lifelong bonds that support progress, and inclusion.”
Kanisha Tillman is the first to point out that “Tutus & Tennis Shoes” isn’t a traditional name for a haircare company, but there isn’t anything traditional about Kanisha. An entrepreneur with an “it takes a village” attitude, Tillman chose the name “Tutus & Tennis Shoes” from her desire to support all girls, no matter their choice of dress or interests, noting that they do not have to fit in one box or another. A Tutus girl embodies the duality of being tough and dependable like your favorite pair of tennis shoes, while still being pretty, frilly, and fragile like a fabulous tutu.
Kanisha Tillman and Tutus & Tennis Shoes is helping build bridges by starting the conversation about cultural challenges along with the differences and similarities between children and the families that raise them–and she is doing this through conversations about one of the simplest of things: hair! And while hair can seem like a very straightforward topic, understanding the needs, cultural norms, science, and history of curly hair can be quite complex, especially for parents of a different race. “These classes teach science and techniques, plus offer tips for successful hair care to parents of Black children. Our hair is often our identity and when these children are adopted, their hair should reflect their full selves. The nuances of race and adoption can be a big, uncomfortable discussion and sometimes that makes adoptive parents too embarrassed to ask Black women how to care for their children’s hair. The kids suffer the brunt of this missed opportunity and cultural connection, which is why I developed Tutus & Tennis Shoes. Adoptive parents don’t have to guess when it comes to their children’s hair care needs and they can help their children embrace their ethnicity and natural beauty, as well as the basic needs of caring for their hair,” says Tillman.
Tutus & Tennis Shoes has classes starting at $35 and Tillman offers one-on-one virtual sessions for personalized feedback and advice. Tutus & Tennis Shoes also has apparel, a hair product line, a storytime podcast, and a blog dedicated to haircare for Black children.
Members of the media are invited to speak with Kanisha of Tutus & Tennis Shoes about her services, her mission, and how she developed this much-needed service. Testimonials with her clientele are also available upon qualified request.