Phil Morgese was a single dad struggling to get his daughter Emma to school on time because her hair was always tangled — until he learned a simple three-strand braid. That led to fishtail braids, braided buns and appearances on the Tyra Banks and Steve Harvey shows.
Before long, other dads wanted to learn how to braid their daughters’ hair, too. So Morgese founded the Daddy Daughter Hair Factory (DDHF), a pro bono clinic/support group for fathers to learn both the mechanics of caring for their daughters’ hair and the value of doing so. When I last spoke with Morgese in January, he was preparing to meet with a number of dads from across the country who’d expressed interest in opening local chapters of the Daddy Daughter Hair Factory.
Nearly 12 months later, here’s where he’s at with that effort as well as his mission to spread the gospel of the power French braids (and every other shape he can make from long hair).
This year we’ve added dads to the DDHF roster in Las Vegas, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee, New Jersey, Missouri, Indiana, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio and the Netherlands — 23 in all. Men want to teach these classes as a community service and to help out other dads in their neighborhood.
It’s allowed me to help people that I’d never get a chance to meet otherwise. Over spring break, for example, seven of us got together with our daughters for a retreat in Colorado to braid hair and play in the snow. It was so rewarding — I really enjoy that it’s a father teaching other fathers. I give new dads a guide to the class and a cheat sheet to make sure they don’t miss anything important.
We’re getting T-shirts made for the guys, too, and I’m also working to get business cards because I think if these guys are out and see someone with a daughter, they can give them a card and show them that there’s help out there. Similarly, we’re now working with SoCozy — a kids hair-care line sold at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond — to develop our own kit with a range of detanglers, brushes and other necessary tools.
Emma and I also started working with MetDan, a beauty channel with 37 million followers. Doing a live show on my channel with 250 to 500 people watching is cool, but when you go on a channel and there are 15,000 people watching, it’s unreal!
This year we went on the Pickler and Ben Show as well, which was a lot of fun. He asked me about braiding, and I told him how I used to suck at it but now I can do it blindfolded. So he challenged me to do it on stage. The entire audience was counting down, and I knocked out that braid in 15 seconds — blindfolded!
Somewhere in every community, I know there’s a guy like me struggling to handle his daughter’s hair. Parenting comes with so many different struggles; if there’s one thing I can do to make a father’s life a little easier, I owe it to them to make it happen. Plus, it’s really helpful for dads to go to a class, get a bit of encouragement about being a father and learn the ins-and-outs of hair care so it’s no longer an obstacle for them. If anything, it lets them turn that obstacle into a way to better connect with their daughters.
A lot of good can come from that.