Someone You Should Know: Sioux Falls hairstylist creating a safe place for niche community

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 8:35 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Divine Afro is more than a salon. And Ariel Beaird is much more than a hairstylist.

Her clients are mostly adopted black and brown children or biracial children with white parents.

“I’m adopted. I was adopted when I was two days old, my parents found out on a Tuesday that I was being born on a Thursday and they received me on a Saturday. My entire family is Caucasian, so they do not have the same hair as me,” said Ariel.

South Dakota wasn’t the most suitable place to offer the kind of services and products that Ariel needed.

“Over the years we just struggled to really find products or even just people that would look like me that could help educate my mom and myself on how to do my hair or even how to care for my skin, care for or what is going on psychology as an adopted child, there’s a lot of chemical imbalances that happen,” said Ariel.

“My mom was like you need to open up a hair salon that’s going to cater to mixed children, adopted mixed children, and fill this hole that is clearly in our community here,” said Ariel.

Predominantly through word of mouth, Ariel has built a safe haven for the last 5 years offering a place for her clients to talk freely about anything.

“It feels really good that I can have my natural hair out and have it looking good because I know that I have a whole bunch of different products and options and somebody to talk to if I have any questions about my hair,” said Ariel’s long-time client, Lilyanna Erlandsen.

“It’s a safe place for Lily. Lily can trust her. And I can trust what she is saying to Lily. Because it’s not just about her hair. It’s about navigating socially and personally and spiritually on a holistic level. And watching Lily come out of her shell because of that is absolutely invaluable,” said the parent of Lilyanna, Katie Erlandsen.

Being an authentic role model and a personal advocate for the child, Ariel is relentless in giving her time, skills, and energy to her clients and their families.

“It’s coming from someone that looks like them, so they’re going to actually take it and integrate it into their life because they know that I went through the same thing. So I’m automatically creating a safe space for them emotionally and spiritually for them to be authentic,” said Ariel.

Careful not to overstep boundaries, Ariel navigates ways for parents and children to understand each other better.

“She never makes you feel stupid. Ever. About anything. She goes through the process, she shows you the product, and why it’s good for her hair. How everything works together. Not just that. Even just talking to her about being a biracial person in South Dakota, it’s a completely different dynamic. I don’t know, I’m a white mom,” said Katie Erlandsen.

“The whole goal is to unify, because there’s already a separation mentally in the child’s head, right? So it’s kind of like an all encumbered, I just have to come here with an open mind and open heart and just see what my clients need that day because it’s never the same even though they’ve been for 5, 6 years, it’s never the same need every single time,” said Ariel.

“I think we really do have a good connection, I really liked her from the start,” said Lilyanna.

For Ariel, there are considerable mixed feelings that come with her passion.

“It’s really healing. And also triggering at the same time. But then I get to use the healing that I’ve taken with me and learned and cultivated over the years to be able to realize some of those things and my inner child is able to be seen and be validated.” said Ariel.

Leading with her heart, offering her hair services, giving confidence and security to children throughout South Dakota, and providing peace of mind to parents who seek answers, Ariel is changing the narrative.

The Divine Afro Website: