DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It was over 18 years ago that April Thorpe faced a dilemma -- how to do her oldest daughter's hair. Thorpe said she saw a little girl with beautifully styled hair and asked the girl's mom if she was available for hairstyling. The woman declined.
"And it hurt my feelings so bad," said Thorpe. "So I just remember praying and asking God to help me figure out how to do my daughter's hair."
From there, Thorpe decided to learn all she could about the texture of her daughter's hair and different styles.
After much practice and patience of doing hair from home, in 2003 Thorpe opened April's Braids and Beads for Children in Durham located at 3302-A University Drive.
"I wanted to provide a spot for little girls to come and feel comfortable having their hair braided," said Thorpe. "And to let them know nothing is wrong with their hair. Whatever texture they may have. We can work with it."
Thorpe and her two stylists - Ms. Krys and Ms. J - accept clients as young as two years old and stop at age 12.
Guests can choose among a variety of hairstyles such as: "Twists and Turns", "Original Princess Beads and Braids," "The Church Doo Ponytails & Bows," "No Tangle Triangles," "The Pretty Girl Press & Curl," among other styles.
Thorpe, who refers to the little girls as "princesses." understands how big of a deal it is for little girls to feel beautiful and proud of themselves.
"Especially when they know they're going to get their hair done and they're going to look really cute at the end of the day," said Thorpe. "They feel like a true princess. And that's how I want them to leave feeling."
Prior to COVID-19 safety concerns, Thorpe offered to pick clients up from school for their afternoon appointment in a pink Volkswagen Bug and would have them ready by the time their parents were off work.
"All little girls like pink and purple if they're true to themselves. That's an eye-catcher for most little girls to come," Thorpe said. "The biggest compliment I get is when they hop out of my chair and look in the mirror. And they flash a big smile and say thank you, Miss April."
By the dozens, former and current clients and supporters visited Thorpe at her salon during her anniversary.
"We want our mom to get her flowers while she's still here," said Thorpe's oldest daughter.