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Salons sparkle with ‘wild’ hairstyles

BUSINESS UNUSUAL
By | November 24th 2011

At first, they were just pulled back into a neat ponytail or left loose to run wild. Today, take a walk in the street and you will be surprised at just how many styles there are with dreads.

This is not only prove that dreadlocks have become popular and flexible, but a booming business as well.

James Wambua of D’s House of Beauty. [Photo: Joseph kiptarus/Standard]

James Wambua, a hair expert at D’s House of beauty can tell you just how much this industry has grown.

He began doing hair when he was a student in high school, until one day, three years ago, he did dreads on someone and he was surprised.

"I tried doing locks once, and everyone loved it. I noticed a vacuum — as there were very few people doing locks at that time. Since then, I have never looked back," he says.

According to Wambua, many people who come for the dreadlocks hairstyle are looking for a different look, besides braiding and relaxing their hair.

His clients want permanent styles that will last since they don’t have time to keep visiting the salon.

When a client approaches Wambua to have dreadlocks for the first time, Wambua advises them to seriously consider the path they are taking with their hair.

Marriage Partner

"I tell them dreadlocks are like a marriage partner. You are with them for life, and the only way out is to shave your hair which takes a really long time to regain its length," he says.

Without a doubt, initial and maintenance costs of dreadlocks are expensive, which makes it even a more endearing business venture. For maiden locks, you will have to part with anything between Sh2,500 and Sh3,500. Dreadlocks require high maintenance. Clients are advised to have them done every three weeks for a nice and neat look.

This is retouching, which costs anything between Sh1,200 and Sh1,000. Then there is styling, which costs between Sh300 and Sh700. The prices differ with the stylist and location.

However, in spite of their high maintenance costs, more people are opting for this hairstyle, even professional women, men and even children.

For maiden locks, one is required to have an all-natural hair, which is twisted with either a moulding gel or bees wax and honey.

The locks are put under a drier for a few minutes to ensure proper drying and utmost neatness. Locks made for the first time are known as ‘baby locks’.

"Like the name suggests, baby locks are like babies and therefore very fragile and should be treated with a lot of care," Wambua explains.

Bell Jeffrey Martin Asyago of Mercos salon is on his third year of doing dreadlocks. "Dreads are very easy to do because they are natural look. People are yearning for a great hairstyle in their natural state," he explains.

As Asyago puts it, with time, dreads have come to be accepted both as a casual and a professional hairstyle, depending on how they are done and styled. She reveals that there are two types of locks, all done depending on the texture and length of the hair. While the Egyptian locks have a spiky look, the dreadlocks are more relaxed. They are also known as ‘baby locks’.

Asyago advises his clients to take great care of their locks by visiting the salon every two weeks for the first three months because baby locks take approximately one year to completely lock. When it comes to styling, there are several modalities Asyago considers.

"The first thing we consider is the age, then the profession of the client, the facial structure and the tastes and preferences," he offers.

Permanent Hairstyle

While dreadlocks are a permanent hairstyle, they are very flexible too and there’s so much you can do with them, as the stylists reveal. They can be weaved, braided, curled, tonged or styled according to a client’s preferences. As Wambua explains, styling dreadlocks is ‘addictive’ because once you do it; you will love it so much that you will want to do it again.

Styling costs you between Sh300 and Sh700 depending on the style. Styles range from the ‘bow-tie’ to a bee-hive, a Mohawk, coiled dreads and even curly ones.

Dread locks can also be braided along with hairpieces such as the ‘afro-kinky’ in a bid to give them a break. You can also have them trimmed to maintain the desired size. Dreadlocks can also be dyed black with wax that keeps them healthy and restores their natural colour. Black dye deposits moisture within the locks, keeping them healthy.

Leticia Mugele of Shellie’s Hair Salon has gained popularity due to her exemplary styling skills. [Photo: Joseph kiptarus/Standard]

Leticia Mugele (Happy) of Shellie’s Hair salon has been doing and styling dreads for the past two and a half years. She began small, even without training. Happy would take on clients who at times complained that she was too slow.

"I would stand outside a salon in town with my business cards. I distributed them to passers-by who had dreads. That is how I began," she remembers.

Today, she is her own boss, and gets to decide how many clients to serve in a day. Most of her clients are women working in media, and a few men and children.

She offers, "They all come here looking for a permanent hairstyle free of chemicals that destroy their hair."

Happy advises her clients to have their hair washed once in a fortnight if they frequent the gym, and three weeks if they don’t sweat as much. But Happy has gained popularity due to her exemplary styling skills, through which she never disappoints.

"Clients come here with all kinds of styles — some downloaded from the Internet while others do a vivid verbal description. I also have a collection of photos where clients can choose their styles. There is no style that is impossible to make," she says.

According to Happy, it takes a lot of determination to stay in this business due to stiff competition.

"You have to be determined to be the best and maintain your uniqueness as a hairstylist," she reveals.

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