Hamilton woman creates book to help Black girls love and style their natural hair

It took 20 years for Anita Grant to appreciate her natural hair and now the Hamilton woman has created a book to help her daughter and other Black girls love their hair.

Anita Grant said her daughter inspired her to write Hello Hair

A woman holding a book.
Anita Grant created Hello Hair after forming a better relationship with her own hair during the pandemic and then finding out she was going to have a baby girl. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

For 20 years, Anita Grant says she had a complicated relationship with her hair.

"I religiously pressed my hair and by the time I hit high school ... I never really cared or showed anybody outside my family my natural hair," she told CBC Hamilton.

But during the start of the pandemic, the 28-year-old Hamiltonian says the way she viewed her hair — or her crown as she calls it — changed.

"I really got to touch, feel and experience and build a relationship with my crown," Grant said.

Then she found out she was having her first child.

"I made a commitment that I would raise my daughter to love every single part of herself, especially her crown," she said.

"I said, why not make a book to make this a really fun and positive experience for her?"

Two years later and Grant is now publishing Hello Hair.

Over 100 hair designs in the book

The book is about four best friends, all inspired by Grant's family members including her daughter Tiana, who go to a salon and learn about their hair.

There are over 100 different hair designs in the book, ranging from afros, braids, twists, and locks, to head wraps and scarves.

It was published on July 3, the same day as National Crown Day in the U.S.

That day commemorates the signing of legislation in California in 2019 to end racial discrimination on the basis of a person's hair and "create a respectful and open world for natural hair."

Two pages inside a book show illustrations of different hair styles for Black girls.
Anita Grant said the book features about 100 hairstyles. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Grant said she sunk two years and over $30,000 into the development of the book.

There are 2,000 copies right now. In Hamilton, they're being sold exclusively at Ark Collective near James Street North and Rebecca Street.

Grant said the look of the book is inspired by magazines Grant grew up seeing including Essence Hair, Hype HairSophisticate's Black Hair and Ebony.

"They're the first publications that we saw people like us so I had to pay homage," she said.

'I wish I had a book like this when I was younger'

Lohifa Pogoson-Acker, a specialty hairstylist in Hamilton, said the book will help lots of people appreciate their natural hair instead of straightening it and taking a Eurocentric approach.

"It is 100 per cent significant, relevant, pertinent ... I wish I had a book like this when I was younger," Pogoson-Acker told CBC Hamilton.

A person smiling.
Lohifa Pogoson-Acker is a specialty hairstylist in Hamilton whose clientele include some of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

She said it may be helpful for mixed-race families or families that have different hair textures.

"It's important to teach our young girls to embrace themselves ... and to explore the diversity within their texture," she said.

Grant said she wants the next generation of Black girls to love their natural hair more than she loved her own.

"That is a part of our identity and you may not realize it now but it can impact your self-esteem and how you think about yourself and how you love yourself."

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

A banner of upturned fists, with the words 'Being Black in Canada'.


Bobby Hristova is a journalist with CBC Hamilton. He reports on all issues, but has a knack for stories that hold people accountable, stories that focus on social issues and investigative journalism. He previously worked for the National Post and CityNews in Toronto. You can contact him at bobby.hristova@cbc.ca.