Achan Agit is originally from the region of Sudan that is now South Sudan. She has been braiding hair since she was five years old. In 2001, Achan fled from Sudan with her family to escape civil war. After coming to America, she braided hair in a salon in Kansas City, Missouri, where she learned to speak English. She saw an opportunity to earn a good living braiding hair in America and dreamed of owning her own salon.
She saved her money and moved to Des Moines to open her own salon called African Dream. But when she went to get a business license from the city, she learned it was illegal to braid hair without a license. She was forced to convert her salon into a retail store; however, she continued to braid hair in the store. She ran her business for about five months but closed her business when she was put on bed rest while pregnant and could no longer work in the store. She was forced to close her business because she feared hiring employees would draw unwanted attention to her business, and she would be penalized by the state. She could not afford to take that risk, so she closed her business and began braiding out of her home.
Achan works in fear that the state will punish her for providing her services without a license. If she could braid without a license, she would reopen her salon, grow her business and better provide for her family.