Filling a gap in the hair-care industry, Sonja Corbin created SC4Kids to offer little Austinites and their parents a safe community to learn about hair.
By Kaiti Evans, Photos by Kara E. Henderson
Sonja Corbin never thought she would devote her life to children’s hair. SC4Kids began when Corbin realized there was a need in the children’s hair-care industry, especially for what she calls “curly girls.” The salon works to “partner with parents, encourage self-esteem, cultivate self-care in the early stages of life and provide a home for black and multiethnic families in East Austin.”
Corbin worked in multiple salons before opening her own and somehow always worked on children’s hair. Though it initially wasn’t her ideal situation, Corbin realized she could fill a larger purpose. She opened SC4Kids in 2015 for her newfound clientele.
“I never thought about what life would have for me,” Corbin says. “I was just always in the salon complaining that I had to do the kids’ hair, and then I realized no one wants to do the kids. … I started looking back on my life as a kid and wishing I had had a cool place to get my hair done, and the next thing you know, it became a thing.”
SC4Kids became more than just a hair salon; Corbin created a safe place for curly haired girls and their parents to learn about their hair and how to maintain it.
“The motto is ‘Healthy. Happy. Hair Therapy,’ so we talk about the health of the hair, which no one talked to me about as a kid, being happy during hair time. … It’s therapeutic getting your hair done,” Corbin says. “It’s your session.”
During their salon time, the girls have time to gather and talk with Corbin. They discuss hard topics, such as the death of the salon fish, Phillipe, and their different skin colors. She takes the time to get to know each girl in her salon as she works on her hair. Corbin intentionally curated a fun space, which has organically transformed into a community.
Corbin also works tirelessly with all economic classes, modeling to each girl the value in a diverse community.
“If you’re a privileged girl, you get your hair done, so on the flip side, I do [hair for] a lot of [girls from] adoption agencies and I also have a lot of privileged kids who come here…which is great because I want them to see other kids,” Corbin says. “I have one little girl who asked [why another girl’s mother looked old], and she was adopted and well, I said, ‘Some little girls don’t have mommies and daddies when they are born and have to find mommies and daddies.’ ”
To further offset the stress that some adopted parents can feel, SC4Kids offers classes for parents with adopted black girls. Her goal is to help parents understand their daughters.
“I teach the parents too,” Corbin says. “Some parents [are white] and then the daughters [are black]. I don’t shame the parents because you go to some salons and there are black women there and they are looking at you with the little brown girl and you’re like, ‘I need help. I want to love her,’ and that’s what I see. I want to help [them] love her because the big part of any curly girl hair is being in the salon.”
As SC4Kids grows, Corbin has plans to incorporate a spa area and host events like a hair show. More importantly, she hopes to make her salon multicultural. She wants every girl she services to grow and understand each other, even if they look different on the outside.
“I would love to have a girl that [doesn’t have textured hair] to see a girl [with textured hair] sitting next to them and for them to see what it takes to do [each other’s hair] and I think some of those social issues will go away,” Corbin says. “I want to see five to seven little girls in here, all of different colors, seeing each other.”