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.

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


-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.