Occupational Licensing

Locked Out: A Hair Braider Fights Occupational Licensing

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Melony Armstrong just wanted to earn an honest living. Armstrong had learned how to braid hair, and she had the drive to open her own salon in Tupelo, Mississippi.

What she didn't have was a state license to practice cosmetology.

Before Armstrong could open her business, the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology required her to attend a board-approved school for a 18 months at a cost of about $10,000.

Without the money to get a license, Armstrong took her passion and channeled it into a legal challenge against the cosmetology board. Her successful struggle would permanently change the way business was done in Mississippi, removing arbitrary barriers that stood in the way of hundreds of other aspiring entrepreneurs who wanted to enter the business of braiding hair.

The documentary film, Locked Out: A Mississippi Success Story traces every step of Armstrong's long fight to change the law, from her humble hair salon to the statehouse. Reason TV's Nick Gillespie spoke with filmmaker Sean Malone and Melony Armstrong at FreedomFest in Las Vegas about how she sparked statewide reform.

Runs about 5:37.

Produced by Todd Krainin. Interview by Nick Gillespie. Cameras by Jim Epstein and Meredith Bragg.

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