Changemaker Profile: Tameka Stigers, St. Louis Entrepreneur

The Women’s Foundation achieved a major victory during the 2018 Legislative Session, when the Missouri General Assembly passed sweeping occupational licensing reforms that will make it easier for women to start a new career or open their own business.


Tameka Stigers, a St. Louis entrepreneur and hair braider, was instrumental in this fight and we were so proud to have her and her daughter Julee kick off our 2018 We Work for Change Annual Event.

Read her story about working for change, and how these reforms are making a difference for women and their families.

“I was working in public health when I decided to start my own business providing African-style hair braiding to women in my community. More than just a job, I wanted a career and a way to give back.

But there was just one problem. Under Missouri’s licensing laws, I was required to spend thousands of dollars on cosmetology classes that didn’t have anything to do with braiding hair.

So I decided to fight back – in court with the support of the Institute for Justice and in the Missouri General Assembly with the help of the Women’s Foundation.

It’s been a long journey, but earlier this year the Legislature finally passed reforms that will allow me and other hair braiders earn a living without jumping through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops. Occupational licensing may sound like an obscure issue, but it has a huge impact on women and their families. Many women who practice hair braiding are new to this country, and it is so important that we surround them and help them provide for their families.

Advocating for these reforms has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. My advice for other women working for change is to stick with it.

The opposition will always be there, and they may bet they’ll wait you out. That’s why we have to continue to fight. If they close a door, find a window – find another entry point, and do what you need to make change happen.”