Neat styles matter

I am guilty of seeing a stranger in the street and doing over their braids and twists over in my mind. In that same thought I wonder why don’t more stylists care about how their work looks in someone else’s head? Clients are walking billboards for your business. As I grow as a stylist, my main goal is to deliver my personal best. Like the saying goes: Don’t half ass anything…use your whole ass.

Here are a few of my protective styles where I think I used my whole ass…

Exhibit A: Senegalese twists

These babies were so thick and juicy and FULL. One of my favorite twists to date. Needless to say my client was happy!

Exhibit B: Faux locs for a Bride

I was all types of nervous for this one but took. MY. TIME!! Her locs looked so real and I loved her idea to put her “something blue” on the very tip of one.


Exhibit C: Braided twisthawk

This client never had twists before and wanted something unique. How could I not deliver?!!!! 


Exhibit D: Senegalese twists with invisible roots

I got the parting so perfect that day even i impressed myself!


Exhibit E: Feed In cornrows

This was extra special for me because it was my first real attempt at doing feed in braids and she had a whole lot of hair


Exhibit F: Traditional Box braids

Not only was this one of my fave installs but this beauty travels all the way from NJ just for me. If that doesn’t say something about the quality of service I provide I don’t know what does. 

Exhibits G thru the rest are just a few other times I walked away from my client smiling knowing my “ass” was put to good use.

Advertisements

Why I hate pre twisted hair

Yes, I said it. I hate pre twisted hair.

Ok ok so hate is a strong word. But It’s shorter than writing I really really really really do not like pre twisted hair. 

If you are a natural girl that opts for protective styles and have spent any time in a beauty store, went into the synthetic hair section, I am sure you have seen it or even used it by now. The variety of pretwisted hair has steadily increased in size, color options and length. I don’t think it’s going anywhere for a while. *le sigh* 

So why do I really really really really not like it? It’s simple. I’m a braider/twister

Braiding is a skill. Twisting is a skill. Pre twisted hair takes away that art and dismisses the skill of a braider/twister to being someone who can use a tool to loop the twist over a cornrow. It takes away the experience and the connection to what I love to do. That was the main reason I would skin up my nose at the thought of installing that packaged hair for a client. One day after receiving the third request asking if I offer pre twists as a service, I rolled my eyes, flared my nose and shouted OMG NOOOOOOOOOOOO to my phone but politely wrote “Thank you for reaching out! Unfortunately at this time that is not a service I offer.” It made me stop and think however turning away those clients because of a personal dislike, was essentially turning away money. Granted, not every hairstylist offers every type of hair style but as a natural hairstylist, not offering pretwisted hairstyles was like a beauty salon not offering a wash and set.

One of many pretwisted brands on the market
 
What are the pros of a pretwisted install?

-Shorter sitting time

-Lightweight

-Neat, uniform in size and length (good job machine *eyeroll*) 

-You can actually teach yourself (or someone else if you have the patience) and save money

-Did I mention it’s a shorter install time?

I personally believe the short install time trumps appearance for the ladies that opt for this hair styles. Still, I find myself saying “I hate pre twisted hair” as an immediate natural reaction when someone asks me if I crochet pre twist hairstyles. 
Note to self: remember to remove personal opinion from professional conversations. 

The thing is, since that client email I mentioned earlier, I have in fact used pre twisted hair for a client twice. When crochet hair with Marley became the craze, I too learned the technique but soon got bored with the process. Pre twisted crochet hair allowed for the same result of the traditional Marley hair without the work of brushing out the hair and curling with a rod and then dangerously dipping in hot water trying not to burn yourself of the other person. My client bought pre twisted hair and had the idea to unravel the twist to reveal a beautiful wavy pattern that delivered the oompf she wanted. The unraveling end result was actually nicer than I expected. The other install was for a busy mom with a newborn who literally didn’t have the time to sit for any form of vanity but wanted her hair to look “done” straight out of bed. I get it. I don’t have to like it…But I get it.

So do I really “hate” pretwisted hair? I guess not. It’s just that braiding and twisting is what I love! I take what I do very serious and love to watch my art, my creation come to life each and every time someone books my services. I personally would not suggest pre twist hairstyle options because it doesn’t showcase my talents. Braiding hair is an age old, timeless skill that is handed down beautifully generation to generation that I respect and love. However, do I see why it is necessary to not turn away clients who choose it for themselves? Professionally, absolutely. 

Pre twisted hair I installed for a client.

My list of Braiding Badassess! 

After a 2am iPhone fake photo shoot with a pleased client, I woke up around 10am happy and lazy. I stretched and rolled over with one eye opened checking messages looking for my usual morning motivational posts. Then my scrolling was interrupted by this text I received from my bestie:


I received the link. It was called the “10 Best braiders in the game.” I clicked. Read. Shook my head. Sat up. Got up. Grabbed my iPad to write my own list. I think I take braiding way too serious and waaaay too personal. So much for a lazy morning.

Without taking anything away from the braiders Essence listed who are in fact talented, I didn’t see any of the braiders that I admire on that list. I also noticed most if not all had strong celebrity clientele. There are SO many everyday people who braid there asses off locally and are not recognized because they have not blessed a celebrity with their skill. Don’t get me wrong, styling a recognizable musician or actor is hella exciting and great for business. Sheeiiiit…Who wouldn’t want to!?! What I’m saying is sometimes the “best braiders in the game”, don’t have the best reach. For that reason here is my own list. Ok ok so my blog isn’t Essence, I haven’t posted in over a year and I don’t even have the best reach but ooooooh hush. 

There’s something about certain braids that stand out to me personally as a fellow braider. All braids are not created equal. It’s in the flick of the wrist of the artist, the way they position the hair in their hands, the way each “leg” of a braid or twist crosses the other, that…..that je ne sais quoi! It’s the difference between “Eh. Cute.” and the screenshot worthyness/weak in the knees feeling of a “YAAAAAAS!!” braided style. 

Even if this falls on blind eyes, here is my personal list of Braiding Badasses! Check out their personal Instagram pages for more work!

*In no particular order* 

1. @Beautycanbraid is one busy braider who can literally do anything.

2. @BraidsbyGuvia work is always recognizable. Hands down the best twists I see on IG.


3. @BraidsbyEkua work is self explanatory. 


4. @MsPritea has undeniable talent.

5. @Natalysyles1 braiding skill is not to be messed with. Like, ever.



6. @Jazitup gets it right every. single. time. 


7. @Crownednaturally puts in that WORK!


8. @Kiakhameleon is not out here to play ANY games!!


9. @IamGlamfreak set social media on fire with her straightback braids on Keyshia Cole but she has her local clients looking just as fly. 


10. @MsHairandHumor yep, ME! I am taking the advice of countless people who cross paths with me and tell me to stop underestimating my talent. It doesn’t come easy to pat myself on the back; we are all our own worst critic but if I don’t believe in my work, who will. 


Thank you Isis Brantley

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to go to do hair. Naturally I thought I needed to go to cosmetology school, scanned numerous brochures, but never enrolled. Quite often my teens and 20s were haunted by thoughts of beauty school especially when I couldn’t find fulfillment in my 9-5. Besides the fact that I am not a TV character who grew up screaming at my parents for not allowing me to explore my talents or drop out of school, my parents are from Trinidad. “I want to do hair!” is never the answer to the age old question what do you want to do when you grow up. 

Caribbean parenting aside, do you know how expensive cosmetology school is? Have you ever looked at a brochure? In the early 2000’s, I said maybe mom and dad were right but I am abandoning my dream for financial reasons alone. My student loans were paid off and that was a huge burden I didn’t want again. But, doing hair still haunted me. I visited 3 schools in NY and even thought I could cheat the system and get a job in the schools to offset the cost. All to no avail. Some things you just can’t explain and my obsession with hair was one of them. Furthermore, I liked to braid. Not once in the schools I visited nor in the pamphlets did I read the part about learning how to do extensions, box braids or learn about black hair period. I just want to braid and twist in peace. And i knew the Africans in Harlem were not about to teach this little fuzzy headed girl a darn thing. It doesn’t take long to see why I never signed up for a $25,000 program to not even learn about textured hair and braiding. Until recently.

After my second lay off in recent months, I started to research cosmetology programs once again. This time I dug a little deeper and discovered the story of Isis Brantley a natural hair salon owner and stylist who was arrested at her salon convicted for the “crime” of performing natural hair services on her clients without a cosmetology license. Imagine that. Furthermore, she had charges against her for teaching hair braiding. However, after long court fights, changes in licensure for hair braiders were implemented and she eventually became the first natural hair care expert in Texas. The judge in her case rules that the state violated Brantley’s 14th Amendment right to due process by setting unreasonable and irrational requirements for her to teach braiding.

Her incredible story made an impact in me and made total sense! Her literal fight for her right to braid was my mental fight. How could natural hair braiders and stylist be regulated the same as cosmetologists? While I sat home hesitant to sign up for an expensive course in subject matter I didn’t necessarily need, this woman was literally fighting for her rights to do what she loves. Regulations vary state to state and thankfully New York does not require a cosmetology license to do natural hair. The requirement is successful completion of a Certified Natural Hair stylist course and state board testing and practical which is a 300 hour course program, not a 1,000 hour program. Say whaaaat!! I felt like the Little Mermaid out of water. It was now a whole new world of opportunity for me. 

The task of finding a school to enroll in is another story in itself but they are out there. I have a feeling a Natural Hair styling program certification will give a level of satisfaction that not even my BBA in Marketing will provide. This is something want for me in spite of any one else’s view. I know my parents just want the best for me and they are supportive but you can’t expect anyone to understand what God places in your heart. 

Isis’ 20 year fight against government regulation was not only for herself. It was for braiders and natural hair stylists nationwide, including me. Like she said in one of her interviews “This is an art form. This is not just ‘doing hair’!”  

Nothing is wrong with obtaining a cosmetology license, in fact, now I would probably consider it more than I did when I was younger. But in my case, I am still glad I was hesitant and that I waited. Like my grandmother used to say, nothing happens before its time. My time is now.

I am grateful for your fight Isis. For that, I thank you. 

To read more about Isis Brantley’s story click here: Naturally Isis.

 

   

Trial and Error with DiDi’s Crochet hair

There is something about me and bus stops.

My milkshake didn’t bring my boy to the yard, Kelis! (you lied to meeee!!!!) It was at a bus stop where I met my fiance and at another bus stop where years later I met one of my closest friends (no, literally, she is my neighbor!) and biggest supporters as well.

Having a good neighbor who becomes a friend has it’s advantages. In Didi’s case: having an on-call hair braider in case of emergencies. I tell her that she takes advantage of me but truthfully, having her in close proximity has been a great way for me to satisfy my braiding urge many times. Plus she feeds me! I have probably tried more hairstyles on her than anyone else and even though she is my “tester” for several styles, when she is not playing human dolly and makes personal requests, she asks for a crochet hairstyle. Every time I try something new or challenge myself with hairstyles or experiment with brands we end up in a good laugh. Our conversation about her crochet experiences went like this:

I can’t keep track anymore, remind me which hair have we used to crochet? Thus far, Marley hair and Freetress hair. The Marley hair reggae brand, was pretty good for my first big hair production. It did not feel as hard as other brands and it was easy to  manage. I left it in for about 2 weeks, but it could have stayed a lot longer. We also tried Freetress water wave, that was super manageable which I was stuck on for a while. I like the curly look, and it didn’t get tangled. As it got older, the better it looked.  I kept that hair in for about a month.

The soft curls of Freetress hair made it easy for DiDi to love this hair.
The soft curls of Freetress hair made it easy for DiDi to love this hair.

Yes! You loved that Freetress hair. But I feel like there was more brands we tried…We also tried the Model Model Marly hair brand and by far it was the worse one for me! At first it looked fine but the hair itself was really hard, very hard to manage. That was also when you did the pre-curl method but the curls dropped the next day. That was the only time I cut my hair after you installed it. The next day I cut it shorter trying to save it but by day 3, I had to take it out because it looked like an old wig. Not cool!

Even with these perfect curls, Model Model hair was too dry and looked old quickly.
Even with these perfect curls, Model Model hair was too dry and looked old quickly.

So with that said, what would be your advice to someone looking to try Marley hair? The brand of hair makes a big difference in the type of styles you want to do with Marley hair. It really is trial and error because we didn’t know! Because we used Marley hair for some twists and I really liked that style but I guess some brands are better for crochet styles and some for twist styles.

Some Marley hair is better for twists than crochet styles.
Some Marley hair is better for twists than crochet styles. These Marley twists were a winner! 
We switched things up often like with this braided mohawk into twist style.
We switched things up often like with this braided Mohawk into twist style.

In spite of the horrible Model Model brand experience, what do you think overall about your crochet hair? Yea that was pretty bad…I can laugh now but it wasn’t funny then lol But oh no, I love my crochet experience. Like I tell you it’s trial and error, trial and error. Crochet is still the best way to protect my hair while transitioning from a perm. I love being team big hair don’t care.

Do you realize if we didn’t meet at the bus stop you wouldn’t have this crochet style? *cough cough* Haha! I know right! Everything happens for a reason. I didn’t know about this hair at all. I remember when we first tried it and I looked in the mirror I thought wow this is a LOT of hair. I wasn’t sure if I liked but I did want to find a style to grow out my perm. By the next morning I knew we were onto something. I’m glad I picked you up at the bus stop lol It was so random but now I get hairstyles and you get Pikliz and Griot. We both winning.

When things go south, literally: Jane’s crochet hair

My girl Jane is a style chameleon. She experiments with fashion and changes her hair often so it was no surprise when she told me she wanted to have some fun with big crochet hair.

jane

Before she travelled down south to Florida, I installed her Marley hair thinking my girl is going to blow me up with pictures and tell me how wonderful the hair was and tag me in 150 social media pics hashtagging things like #boutthatcrochetlife #myHairisPOPPING #MsHairandHumordiditagain! #YASSSSS and I would be smiling at home like aaah like yes, yes, I know! But….that didn’t happen. You take the good you take the bad you take them both and there you have the facts of crochet life. Luckily, when you are a stylish person like her, you figure out how to make things work for you, even when things don’t….well, work for you. This is what she had to say:

The hair we used was Noir. I used colored hair and it was completely dried out. How do I know you ask? Because my sister had the same exact hair when I was in Florida as well and hers was soft. Not too soft but not dried. As far as curling it, it curled nicely, but because of Florida’s humidity the curls ended up frizzy. I used rod rollers then dipped them in boiling water for two seconds and I found that the smaller the rollers the better the curls. However, I also realized the technique you used by stretching the hair caused it to mat up quickly. :o( Overall, I got great feedback from other people saying how they loved my hair but I was only able to have it out for 2 days then I put a hat over it because it started getting on my nerves. The style was cool. It just didn’t last. Will I ever use that hair again? Yes. But only in black.  

janeagain

 #Oops 

Ok ok so clearly the hashtags and pictures never came. When I thought back to my own steps to see what I did differently I couldn’t pin point where things could have went wrong. No, I didn’t curl the hair after I installed it because time was of the essence and that whole dipping in boiling water after can get dangerous. I also didn’t pre curl the hair but, she didn’t ask for that and it wasn’t the look she wanted. As far as the ends….hmmm…well I did what I have done for Guildia, Veronique and Chanda by pulling the ends to make them uneven (as with braiding hair to make them tapered) thinking it would give more length and ultimately the big hair look she wanted. However, I guess it turned out her plane ride to Florida wasn’t the only thing that went South. *doh*

Will I continue to stretch the ends, probably. Was it the humidity that changed the outcome of the curls and contribute to the dryness? Or was it the fact that the Noir hair was colored? I am not sure. What I do know is there are lessons to learn in honest feedback and even though I don’t always get it right, no matter what I am still on the road to take my #passiontoprofit.

Crochet hair in Dubai? Chanda shares her story

When Chanda hit me up to do her hair before she went on vacation in Dubai she only told me one requirement: “I just want it off my neck. Dubai is way too hot.” She played with the idea of Senegalese twists after seeing my work on another friend but I told her those thangs get heavy! I offered crochet as a style that would be quicker to install and much more light weight. She took my advice and definitely did not regret it.

After mishaps with another install I did for my friend Veronique, I tried a pre-curl method for Chanda so I would not have to worry about hot water and burning her scalp at all. (Sorry Vee. I loo oo ove you! Hold it down!) The results were by far one of my favorite installs thus far.

Chanda got used to her new look pretty quickly.
Chanda got used to her new look pretty quickly.

What made you change your mind about the twists and choosing to do the crochet? I was curious about crochet but, at first, I was doubtful on how it would look on me.

Pre curling was the way to go.
Pre curling was the way to go.

How was it having that hair in Dubai of all places? They loved it! Everyone wanted to touch it and thought it was mine. It was good vacation hair. That hair was giving me LIFE!

Dubai wasn't ready!
Dubai is hot…but Chanda was HOTTER!

You were very busy sightseeing and on the beach, did the hair hold up? It worked out well and the style lasted. It was low maintenance but I did re curl it with heat.

The mane attraction.
The mane attraction.

What type of hair did we use and how long did you keep it? Janet Collection Noir hair and it has been two weeks. I plan to keep it in for a month.

The best part about this hairstyle? The fact that it is low maintenance once it is set, it looks like my natural hair and I received many compliments.

Cons? None to date.

Crochet experience in a nutshell: I love it. It’s me all the way!