How One Woman Created Her Own Braiding Community

Published 22nd Jan 2024 by Sian Jones

HJ caught up with Gabriella Anderson, Founder of online platform, Braids Gang, that is empowering women and young girls to be confident through the power of hair, beauty and self-love. 

After struggling with anxiety, low self-esteem, and a lack of education on caring for textured hair a teenager, Gabriella’s hair broke off, leaving her with thinning edges and bald spots. She was eventually diagnosed with fraction alopecia, and it was this that led her to start seeking positive role models online that she could relate to and connect with. Gabriella soon found that there was lack of information on caring for and embracing natural hair with confidence so began sharing her different struggles and experiences on looking after your hair and mental health, and found that other women and young girls were going through similar challenges.

“Braids Gang started to get noticed and featured in well-known magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, POPSUGAR and Essence with celebrities reposting our online content for hair and beauty inspiration,” explains Gabriella. “As the Braids Gang community continued to grow, our mission was formed to inspire and champion confidence and self-love in as many young females, encouraging them to be their most authentic and unapologetic selves.” 

Ten years on and the Braids Gang community has grown from five followers to nearly 600,000, reaching over 100 million people online. “We have seen such a positive shift in the way individuals embrace their hair today. There was a time in the past when black hairstyles such as braids, locs and other protective hairstyles were deemed unprofessional and seen as a style that was frowned upon and described as undesirable.”

“The Braids Gang movement continues to influence so many individuals changing their negative belief systems to positive by providing a safe space for individuals to voice their opinions and experiences through the content we share on social media, celebrating the beauty of different natural hairstyles to promote confidence and champion self-love.”

Gabriella has also taken on local initiatives, launching the youth outreach ‘Self Love and Confidence Building’ programme in partnership with Our Pain 2 Power CIC, that helps young people and students from underserved communities in secondary schools, colleges and universities through personalised learning, tailored preventative mentorship and creative workshops. “We also work in partnership with local food bank charities that supports families from low income households where the Braids Gang team provides free hair and beauty treatments to members of the local community in collaboration with different hair stylists and beauticians,” says Gabriella.

In 2023 Braids Gang launched the Self Love & Confidence Campaign series, highlighting the importance of self-love, self-esteem, confidence, overcoming obstacles and the power of being a part of the Braids Gang Sisterhood. Looking to the future Gabriella shares her excitement at the opportunities to engage with the Braids Gang community and to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. “Braids Gang will continue to stand unwavering in our mission and unapologetic about our ambitions whilst driving the transformation and evolution of the Braids Gang community with the value we add to the world.”

Read next: Is The Black Hair Industry Changing?

Sian Jones

Sian Jones

Published 22nd Jan 2024

Sian is Editor Modern Barber and Deputy Editor Hairdressers Journal International. She has over ten years’ experience writing for print publications covering Youth & Children, TV & Entertainment and Lifestyle. Sian graduated with a degree in journalism, and whilst studying was nominated for the Guardian Digital Journalist of the Year award in 2011.

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