Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On Making the Decision to Lock (Part 1)

I was reading Cashana's blog and encountered a statement she made that I liked so much, I asked for her permission to repost it here.

She said, "What I am noticing is that if you are uncomfortable with your locks from the beginning you will feel like that for the entire process, unless you embrace the uniqueness and not compare your hair to someone else's. Locking one's hair is not a decision to be made on the fly. You need to do your research and do an inner search and know within yourself this is the path you are willing to follow. Whether others accept it or not, you have to be able to stand TALL regarding your decision to wear Sisterlocks.

"Even if you feel you have to wear a wig those first couple of weeks, when you can walk with that, 'I don't care what you think, I look good,' swagger you will be glad you can wear your Sisterlocks with pride and strength. What I have noticed from being on the group - I lurk, never respond -is that if the ladies don't do a lot of research and get the locks, they are not happy with them for a multitude of reasons.

"Reading their questions makes me wonder how much time did they put into researching and thinking about the entire process of locking. From the decision to lock, to your consultant, scheduling, maintenance, costs, styling and much more are reasons to really think about it before you lock. For example if I hadn't liked my consultant from the initial phone calls and the meetings, I would have not had Sisterlocks, because I would need to deal with whether I wanted to travel to maintain them. "

...Girl, I could not have said it better myself. It makes me sad to read about women who are not happy with their Sisterlocks, and I think you're right about why. I've thought the same thing. Deciding to lock your hair is up there with other life-altering events like deciding to move or to change careers or quit a job and purchasing a car or deciding to begin or end a long-term relationship....Not to be taken lightly at all. Things you wouldn't dream of doing without some degree of planning and introspection.

I think that is part of why the Sisterlocks motto is: It's not a hairstyle, it's a lifestyle." It's to make you stop and think. Starting and maintaining locks is not like getting braids or twists. It's not even like doing the big chop. If you don't like a hairstyle, you grow it out if it's a cut or color. If it's braids or weave, you take it out. If you're tired of your long hair or your relaxed hair, you cut it off and start over. All of which are options too, if you don't like your locks, but the process of growing and maintaining locks is not a quick fix. I think some people don't stop to think about it.

It is a journey that you embark on. It helps to have guidance and some idea of what you will encounter along the way. You do need to look inside yourself and determine if you have what it takes within to make it successfully and happily. And I'm all about inner strength and self-confidence too, but you need to have somebody in your life who is happy for you and supports your decision. You can get by without it, but it is so much more difficult.

Like I have said before and will say again: your level of satisfaction depends on your original expectations.

Cashana said, "Locking one's hair is not a decision to be made on the fly."

So true! I started this round of SL research at the tail end of January and two weeks later had made my decision to get them, so it would seem that I made up my mind quickly. But I had been considering locks on and off for about ten years. And I am so glad I didn't get them sooner. I know from my own 'inner search' that I was not ready before now.

On the importance of liking your consultant...

You must feel like you trust your consultant. You must be able to communicate with her and feel comfortable asking questions and discussing your concerns. This is more vital than mere words can convey.

My first introduction to SLs was exactly 2.5 years ago, in late November of 2004. I met a young woman with them while I was on a cruise. Hers were beautiful. She directed me to the official site, and I read up on them but I still just really wanted to talk to someone - an expert who could answer my questions. I needed more information than was provided on the site. I needed live feedback. That's what a consultant is for, right? Root word: consult. Definition: 1) to give professional or expert advice; 2) to seek guidance or information from.

The acquaintance from the cruise (who was the friend of a friend and lived about an hour away from me ) gave me the name of her stylist. The woman who was currently doing her retites was not the one who did her install. She'd had those done on the West Coast. In retrospect, I think the stylist was probably a trainee. The more I think about it now, I'm not certain she was even that. I know I got her number off the Internet, but it may not have come from the official site. My friend may have given me the name of the shop and the stylist's name and I figured out the rest for myself.

I know there are people out there who have picked up the technique from various places without having learned the customer service aspects that are taught at the seminars. If she had taken the class it seems like she would have tried to be more reliable and helpful. Her name and shop are not listed now, so either she didn't certify or re-certify, or she never was an approved consultant/trainee.

In any case I called and immediately got the impression that she was a flake. She was primarily a braider who worked out of a braiding salon. Ok, no issues there...but every time I called, no matter what time of day for two weeks, she wasn't there. Even when I was told she would be in at a certain hour and I'd call back, she wouldn't be there. Even though I left messages, she never returned them. I finally just caught her one day at random.

And then what? She didn't want to answer any of my questions over the phone. She just wanted me to make an appointment and bring $100 for my deposit. Now, I understand that a consultant can't answer certain questions without seeing your hair. However, questions like, "when is the best time to visit your shop?" and "how long have you been doing Sisterlocks?" do not fall into that category. She worked in a city 2 hours away. I didn't want to take the day off from work and drive that far only to decide we didn't click at all...or for her not to show up, so I was trying to feel her out a bit over the phone before I made an appointment and put down my non-refundable deposit.

Now, I never spoke to her again and maybe she was 'goin' thew sum thangs' at the time...I do not know, but the negativity of that experience was 50% of the reason I didn't get Sls at that time. There really wasn't anybody in my area to do them and help me maintain. I would have driven to her city because it was only 2 hours away and I had friends that I could visit. Retightening sessions would have been a good opportunity to day trip, meet for lunch, maybe have a girl's night out.

All the other consultants (all 3 or 4) that were remotely close were 3 and 4 hours away and in cities I didn't really care to visit every 6 weeks. Plus, the experience with the braider was just so negative and I still had a lot of unanswered questions. Those factors combined with my own doubts just discouraged me completely.

If I had liked her, or been able to find someone else nearby, I really think I would have started my locks then, but it's just as well. I don't feel like I lost anything, and I have no regrets because I was still enjoying my natural hair and it was healthy. (I did have one incident with a texturizer and another with a box of hair color in the meantime, but now those are neither here nor there.) I don't feel like I was limited or oppressed by my hairstyling options and routines. And I feel like I appreciate my locks more now than I would have then.

I have said before that I am not sure I will keep them for life (for some years, definitely, but I'm not yet 30 and I expect to live a long time so who knows?), but I feel like I am more likely to keep them for longer having started them now than if I had started them then. (Sorry about the weird grammar...I teach and tutor English and I am appalled at my own sentence structure as I blog sometimes. Egads!)

But I was saying that I was discouraged because I couldn't find a consultant nearby who could answer my questions and allay my fears. I brought some of those same doubts and questions with me this time. The difference was that between the research I was able to do online and the patience/guidance of my consultant, I was able to resolve most of my issues and feel very confident about my decision.


Carmen In NC said...

I feel you and Cashana on the research. I had never seen sisterlocks in person when I got mine. I think I fell in love with Creyole's and Brunsli's SLs and then there were some I prayed my hair wouldn't look like. (The ones on the actual SL site. Bad right?)

My consultant had just started her own after coming out of traditional locks. So I still hadn't seen real live fully matured locks even when I had the testers put in. I knew I would have some unraveling because 5 of 6 testers came out. And I knew mine would look different because of my hair texture.

My consultant was a Godsend because she was easy to find. She was on the list and right in the neighboring city - 30minutes. I am very thankful for that. Ayana of Glorylocs.

blackrussian said...

Wow, Carmen, I don't think I would have had the faith and courage to get SLs if I had not seen them in person first.

I'm wit'chu. I saw dozens of pictures in various places that made me think: Oh no! That is NOT what I want.

But I have to say that it is helpful to see people's progress pictures because most of them don't start off looking wonderful. I look at my own Day One pics and think: Hunh. Nice place to visit, wouldn't wanna live there.

And I don't want to knock the sisters on the official website. (But I know what you mean. That's why I Googled Sls in the first place. I thought to myself: there have GOT to be better pictures than these out there SOMEwhere. I really thought they would have been featured in a magazine article or something.) We'll just say that the resolution on the pictures wasn't the best. Maybe it was the camera or the process of digitizing....

But yeah, it was my search for better pics that led me to Maryee and the LHBE, so I can't complain about that either.

I think with the wealth of info there is to be found online now, consultants should really encourage potential clients to do research before making the decision to lock. Plus now there is the Sisterlocks Lifestyle Journal. (I ordered every back issue and read it cover to cover before I made my decision.) And if they decide it's not for them or not for them at this time, so be it.

I know it's easy for me to say that because it isn't my livelihood, but like Blaqkofi just
posted on another one of my pages: locking is a journey that changes yourself and not just your hair,* so you need to be ready for that aspect of it too. As well as the practical issues concerning maintenance and cost of upkeep and the time involved.

*I'm gonna make an enemy one of these days...I have the terrible habit of paraphrasing ALL THE TIME. I do it in life, so it is hard not to do it online. I'm gonna have to tighten up on that.

I've seen Ayana's website, she does excellent work.

Things are different in my area now. That was almost 3 years ago. Now there are 2 consultants within a half hour's drive (Phyllis actually works out of her home and it's 10 minutes from mine - how convenient is THAT?) And 2 or 3 more are within an hour's drive, so I definitely felt like I had more options this time around, but Phyllis had done three heads that I had seen up close and personal and admired so, of course she was my first choice.