Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I celebrated another year of life this past Friday! And on that day, I discovered a pot of gold at the end of a 3.5 hour drive: Rare Essence Studio.

After my disappointing consult, I remained determined and continued searching for loctitians. In my search, I came across the website PhxSoul. It's a blog that promotes African American businesses in the Phoenix area. How perfect! Rare Essence Studio had an ad on the site and one click later, the rest is history!

With such a long drive, I wasn't sure if I wanted to make the trip for what might be another disappointing 10 minutes and on my birthday no less. But after my initial telephone conversation and one email response, I had a consult booked.

From that first conversation to the end of the consult, I received professional and courteous service. The receptionist, Joy, knew me by name when I walked through the door. Vela, the stylist with whom I had the appointment, asked all the right questions: what type of locs did I want, do I exercise regularly, what size locs do I want, how did I want to start my locs. There were more but I can't remember them. The first stylist didn't ask me any of these questions so Rare Essence was already a step ahead.

Then Vela proceeded to do something novel - she demonstrated the different techniques for starting locs on MY HAIR. I know, crazy, right? That was so helpful! Well, actually, it wasn't helpful because know I don't know which method to choose. Sigh.

From my answers to her questions, she recommended three options: two strand twists  (definitely no), comb coils (definite maybe) or interlocking (also a maybe and I didn't even know that was possible!). I had my trusty Flip with me so I have video of the techniques but I still can't decide.

I like the look of comb coils and that's how I want to start; however, I do exercise regularly. Interlocking will allow me the flexibility to rinse/wash my hair frequently without worrying about the starter locs unraveling. On that note, it's only a myth that you don't wash locs. Locs thrive when wet! In the beginning, just be prepared for longer re-twisting sessions as your starters may come undone.

I digress.

So now I'm researching the interlocking starter method. I have a few questions that I've emailed to Rare Essence Studio. Once I get answers, I'll share the conversation with you.

How did you start your locs? How did you make that decision? Please share!

Loc love,

- kareen

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Last Thursday evening I was so excited I could barely sleep! My first step towards obtaining locs was only mere hours away. After a three hour trek, we arrived in the 'big city' and I headed straight to the salon for my consult.

During my initial conversation with the loctitian, we set up a tentative meet-up time of between 9 - 10 am. She indicated that I should contact her when I got into town which I did at 9:00. I was surprised when she returned my call at 9:30 to say she would be stepping out until 11 am. Fortunately I was at the salon door when I received that call and she was able to see me before she left. I can't lie; that interaction left me a little...sour. We selected the agreed upon time based on her schedule. And while I understand that the consult was free, we had set an appointment and she was willing to throw off my day by an hour! And besides, I would have paid for her time as I think it's important to have a good rapport with your loctitian. I don't want to have to start my locs multiple times because I don't like the work or the products used.

The salon was clean and the person who greeted me was helpful. Good first impressions here. The loctitian herself was nice and I didn't necessarily feel rushed so that was good. I have soft hair so I expect that it will take longer to loc but I know it's possible. For my wedding five years ago, my hair was styled in comb coils which remained intact/neat for three days. On my honeymoon, I removed them over the course of a couple of days. On that fifth day, those coils  were near impossible to comb out! The ones in the back had already started loc'ing!

Anyhoo, the loctitian confirmed the fact that I have soft hair and recommended that I start with synthetic hair extensions. In addition to helping my hair loc, the synthetic hair would help me avoid the starter/teen loc phases aka the 'ugly' phase.


I didn't mention wanting to avoid the 'ugly' phase. And if I had, I would hope that human hair would be recommended.  Truth be told, I had initially considered loc extensions. So, I have nothing against them. I chose not to pursue that path for two reasons:

1. COST! Loc extensions with human hair start at $300; and
2. I want thicker locs but don't want bulky extensions pulling on my hair. They would likely slide out anyway.

When I inquired about other options for starter locs, the loctitian mentioned any other option would require a lot gel which would lead to flaking. Not a good look. My previous experience with comb coils didn't require a lot product and I never experienced flaking. She returned to the synthetic hair extension option and provided anecdotal examples of clients who are currently using this method. She warned that if I didn't cut the extensions out at the right time they would become part of my permanent locs. Human hair I could live with but synthetic hair mixed with my natural hair? Not so much.

In the end, she reassured me that she could get my hair to loc no matter what. I respect her talent and opinion but this isn't a relationship that I am going to pursue. We're not a match.

I was disappointed but not deterred. I continue my search. In the meantime, I'll continue rocking loose natural!

- kareen

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Call me excited! I have my first consult booked with a loctician! It's going to be a quickie at 10 to 15 minutes and it's a three hour drive to get there but I'm still stoked. The distance doesn't bother me; that's just the reality of living in my little town as a black woman. Hair care will require a lengthy trip no matter what style I choose to rock. Love my city but understand it's limitations.

To be honest, the consult is a side trip and not the purpose of the three hour drive. . .this time. I am heading into the "big" city with co-workers for a shopping day next Friday and was able to convince them to agree to stopping by a hair salon for my purposes :) How nice!

I have one more loctician to visit going 3 hours in the other direction. If I'm pleased with this week's consult, I may not bother making the other visit. I'll post my review when it's all said and done!

- kareen

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I recently visited NYC for a business trip and had the fortune to have enough time to walk around Manhattan for an afternoon. I am working towards starting locs so i'm always on the lookout  for a loc'd head of hair.

Well that Manhattan afternoon I found myself surrounded by loc'd lovelies! Sisterlocks, free formed, manicured, small, thick, baby and mature locs whirled around me. Loose natural and relaxed hair, too. Truthfully, it was great to see such diversity. I've been missing it lately as I live in a small town.

The NYC trip was for business and I was with my boss. I wasn't free to stop and talk with the loc'd lovelies I encountered but just being around them was motivating. While I at the airport I did have an opportunity to speak with a mother/daughter loc'd duo. They recommended a loctician in one of the large cities near me. I now have two recommendations and I'm comfortable enough with my hair length to start the process.

So it's time to consult!

I'm excited!

- kareen

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