Monday, March 12, 2007

Brunsli asked...

OK-- I have two cents to contribute...
I would say that to those who point out that locks should liberate one from salons and fees, that I think Sisterlocks do qualify. As you know, while I have had the training, I do not make any money at Sisterlocks and even if I did start offering them (as I may) they would hardly be as lucrative as some people seem to think. But I'll get back to that...
When I go to a SL consultant, I don't feel like I am paying for my locks or that I am fettered to a salon. I am paying for that person's time, effort and knowledge. While people grouse about the cost and the time, I can say first hand that doing SLs are very labor intensive...carpal tunnel syndrome, backache, eye strain, etc.- there are plenty of potential occupational hazards for the Sisterlocker. We expect our consultant to anticipate and remedy snafus, and we want to feel cared for and pampered for a time. I think that is worth something. I could bring a cake or a scarf or a gasoline card, but its easier to give money.
I could do my own Sisterlocks (and I do!), I'm not obligated to pay anyone anything.
There are locking methods that are completely 'free' and also some less involved than Sisterlocks, so if someone chooses to have the particular method and outcome Sisterlocks gives, I don't think it's unreasonable to compensate someone for their assistance in achieving it. There are locticians who help maintain 'traditional' locks and palmrolled ones, who use 'other' tools--including fingers and they charge...I don't see the big difference. The thing about Sisterlocks is that the ongoing maintenance is apparent. You must make a decision to do it yourself or go to someone else...but I don't think any method of locking would allow a person to just neglect the care of their hair. Other methods may not involve such deliberate maintenance, but some effort is always involved and if another person is involved, I suspect money is exchanged.
When I wore braids, I was especially diligent about paying the young girls who did my hair. I thought it was important for them to know that they could be entrepreneurial and professional, that they could be self-sufficient, etc. There were lots of braiders available...some were very cheap, some were very good and I tried to find someone who was both. There were times, however, when I went to more expensive braiders...because I wanted a higher level of professionalism and/or service, because I was not willing to expend the energy to find someone less expensive, etc.
I think the same is true of Sisterlocks. It is possible to find someone who offers the service who is not expensive but very good. I think the backlash is that Sisterlocks is so obviously a microbusiness, whereas we don't think of braids that way. In my training class, when traditional cosmetologists and locticians did the math they realized they could not make as much money at Sisterlocks as the amount of effort seemed to require. Lociticians who do other loc styles and techniques make a LOT more money than those offering SLs I was surprised to learn. There was a woman in my class who said she earned $1500 a day in her shop doing traditional locks--she had no intention of offering Sisterlocks after seeing the effort involved. Likewise, salon operators said they would lose money per chair doing the Sisterlock service. So most Sisterlocks are offered from home businesses...
If your consultant charges $25-45 per hour, that's all they can make during that time. They don't have another 'head' going...If they are above the table, they have to subtract taxes from that, they have to provide themselves whatever medical insurance they may need, they have to pay their overhead. If they are not providing themselves with insurance, making a savings egg, then if they get sick or are unable to work, they lose all income. If they have the misfortune of making a mistake, their reputations will likely be tarnished. They really can't charge all that much over the market rate. And as I am learning, people who charge by the hour for the labor they do with their hands will always be limited by the number of hours in the day...there is a finite number of clients they can see. No matter how fast they are, they are limited by the number of hours in a day. They can only make more money by charging more or adding new operators who will eventually have enough clientele to strike independently...
So I pay a chunk of money to get someone to install my Sisterlocks...well, really, I can't do it myself--I can't see the back of my head...I wouldn't want anyone to volunteer to do it---if they are good, I'd want to pay them for their effort and if they aren't, well, I don't want them messing up my head for free. Let's say it costs $800-1200 (prices I made up btw), and it takes two days to do...let's say 18 hours....that's $45-67 an hour. That's money well spent to make sure the locks I'm going to have for years are put in correctly and carefully. Auto mechanics make that. My Sisterlocks will last at least as long as a car. It's not an amount that pay over and over again. The initial flurry of retightening visits are more problem-solving than anything then things settle down and the 'cost' of Sisterlocks drops way off. In fact, if I'm charging for Sisterlocks I have to continually find new clients because they will probably stop coming six months to a year after installation.
So my opinion is...yes Sisterlocks are expensive, but apparently, I think I'm worth it. It can cost my time or my money. I can find someone within my budget range who does a great job...they may take longer, they may have less experience, it may take longer to get an appointment or I can pay more and not have to deal with those issues. I can do my hair myself and only visit a consultant occasionally for grooming, troubleshooting, etc. I am liberated.

3 comments:

Vee said...

Renea great Post! I couldn't have said it better myself. I'm a trainee and do S/L's in my spare time, it definately is a labor of love.

Creyole said...

Renea,
Thanks so much for this post! It's given me a new view point and I can see the light a the end of the tunnel.

Have I made a final decision? No! But at least I've got more prayer and homework to do.

dstdiva said...

Great Post. Makes you really step back and think about the true cost and quality that goes into the product.