Thursday, July 12, 2007

What to look for in a consultant and installation...

OK...I'm going to get on my high horse for a few minutes.
In the past 24 hours, I have written to two women who have gotten less than stellar results from their Sisterlocks "consultant." This distresses me greatly as I want everyone to love their hair and have as pleasant a Sisterlocks journey as I have had. I also know that many people surf out blogs looking for info about how Sisterlocks look. So I want to give you my advice on how to select a good Sisterlocks consultant and some red flags to watch out for when you are choosing. I get absolutely steamed when I meet women who have had bad experiences with 'shady' characters.
It is really challenging to find out about Sisterlocks...they aren't prevalent in some parts of the country and the method is really a bit different than we are accustomed to with other services. So like I said, here's my opinion...

Not everyone who calls themselves a Sisterlocks consultant is actually a Sisterlocks consultant!
This is shocking and scary but true. There are people who lie about being Sisterlocks consultants. They are the bane of our existence. Make sure that the stylist you are thinking of working with has actually been trained---BY SISTERLOCKS HOME OFFICE-- to install Sisterlocks.
Some people lie about having Sisterlocks training because they are greedy and want to turn a dollar. Some do it because they are of the goofy, arrogant notion that because they "saw" someone doing Sisterlocks, they now know enough to do it themselves. Some claim to be consultants because, instead of going to official training themselves, someone else taught them the technique....
The first indication that your potential consultant is professional and on the up and up is that they have taken the time and have enough professionalism to go to an OFFICIAL SISTERLOCKS CLASS to learn ALL aspects of the technique. They will have a certificate or a receipt or something that shows they attended. If they went recently, their names will appear on the official list of Consultants or Trainees.

You can get good service from a consultant or a trainee...or you can get bad service.
There is a lot of debate about this one. Some will tell you to only go to a certified consultant to get your Sisterlocks. This is certainly the safest, most conservative route. But there are many trainees who do an EXCELLENT job. Many charge less and since they have smaller clientele lists may be able to give you more attention than the limited number of certified trainees available. And as a trainee myself, I can also say that since they are recently trained they may very well be MORE CONSCIENTIOUS about their technique than someone who has gotten jaded and lazy about theirs...
The most important thing...verify that your stylist has been trained--see above. Ask if they have had any refreshers.
If you are contemplating working with a trainee and they have very few clients or haven't had any...they should have a mannequin. Ask them to show you their technique. Listen to how they describe their plan for doing your hair.

Be careful of anyone who boasts or gives you the hard sell about their services or those who run the 'girlfriend' game.
If they are a trainee, they should volunteer that they haven't had as much experience as a consultant. Or if they have been a trainee for a long time without getting certification, they should give you an explanation for why they haven't completed the process that passes the smell test!
A consultant should not have to boast about her work because she (or he) will have the clientele and references to speak for them. They will let you talk to their clients and have plenty of pictures of their handiwork to show you...
So if you meet someone and they are selling wolf tickets, let them pass.

On a related note, beware those who take an overly familiar tone with you..."Girl, I'm gonna hook you up!" If she is about her business, she will project a professional air. The 'girlfriend' game is destined for disaster. Those who run it use it to hide something--like lack of training...or hide behind it when they make a mistake, then instead being your service provider they act as if your 'friendship' should give them a pass. Keep business and social separate. Your consultant should understand that and set that tone from the first time they speak with you.

Pay attention to the environment where they intend to provide your services.
Again this speaks to their professionalism. Is the environment set up with the client in mind? Is it clean? Is the consultant's work space prepared and organized? Do they have appropriate seating? Is their bathroom clean? Look around! Look around! If their space is a mess, in all likelihood so are they!

Get a complete THREE part consultation.
A good stylist will approach the Sisterlocks installation in three sessions...
The first time you meet they will give you information. They will talk with you, find out how much you know about Sisterlocks, about your expectations for your hair. If you are not informed, they will stop there. And let you come back to them after you have thought about your decision and gotten as much as information as you need to decide on Sisterlocks (see above, not giving you a hard sell). If you are informed, they may go on to the second step...
During the second session the consultant will look at and touch your hair to assess the texture and characteristics. They will install TEST LOCKS. And they will instruct you to wash your hair several times and come back to them.
This is very important. Our hair sometimes behaves differently than we would expect from appearances. A good consultant knows this and --wanting to give you the best possible outcome--will want to see how the test locks hold up before doing your whole head. Test locks are how the consultant determines whether they have selected the correct locking pattern for your hair. So why would they skip that? Why would they possibly waste your time and theirs installing a whole head of locks that might be the wrong pattern? It would reflect badly on them and they care too much about their reputation to risk that.
Then and only then, at your third visit, will you get your whole head Sisterlocked. During the first or second visit pricing has been discussed. So you know before you start how much it will be.

OK, so now you're getting your Sisterlocks installed...What should you expect?

Your consultant will tell you to come in with a clean, dry head.
They will specifically warn you not to use grease or oil or anything else in your hair. If you do, they will send you to clean it or they will wash it before they begin.
I don't know where this whole "locking when wet" thing is not what I was taught in Consultant Training class! I'll just leave it at that...

Why is this important?
Any product residue on your hair might retard the locking process.
If your hair has been dampened, its curl pattern will reduce. If it has been blow-dried the curl pattern will have been stretched out. Given those two options better that it shrink than be stretched, but really the optimal situation is neither shrunken or stretched, right?

Your consultant should section and part your ENTIRE head before beginning!
In fact, your consultant should take a LOT of time parting your hair...Those sections are their guide. Beware if someone just starts in...A good consultant will ensure that your sections are laser-parted and that you have a center part and side parts for styling! The time to do this is during the parting before they start installing locks. For you...what if you what to wear a style that is parted? You don't want to find out that your head is a mess of crooked parts. Or that you don't have a side part or a center part. Also if another consultant takes over doing your hair, they will look for those sections to guide them. So a consultant should definitely take a LOT of time on parting.

Your consultant will start with the FRONT sections of your head NOT the back.
Oh my goodness...Ladies, this will be your last chance to run from your consultant! Hee hee. If they start at the back your head....get up!
The front sections of your head should be done first!
1. It is the section you see the most, so your consultant should want to make sure they are their most alert and attentive to this section. That makes sense, right?
2. The front sections are probably where you have your smallest locks. So your consultant should prioritize them first.
3. If there any adjustments or irregularities, don't you think they should be in the back of your head? Why would your consultant work from the back up, or skip around your head and leave the chance that the front of your head will have oddly shaped parts? The answer is...they wouldn't if they know and care about their work!
VERY important, VERY important...

Unless your ends are relaxed, your consultant will leave no more than 1/4 to 1/2 an inch at the ends of your lock.
OK...this is the hot topic. I stand on this firmly. If your consultant wants to start your locks way up high, hmmph, I'd want to know why, why, why. It's either because they don't want to take the time to do all that locking--if you're comfortable with that, go ahead-- or because their technique is shabby. There I said it. What! --I'm from New Orleans, don't mess with me...heehee.
Anyway as I was saying. It is sometimes necessary to do a little backcombing to start a lock. But a little backcombing does not mean teasing up half the length of your hair people. If your stylist is doing this, she may need some help with her technique. By the end of my training class, I was able to start a lock, with my fingers, on synthetic mannequin hair. Surely, an able, capable stylist should be able to start a lock on real hair as close to the ends as possible. That's my bond.
Why do you want your hair to be locked as close to the ends as possible? Well, eventually the ends will be drawn up into your lock. The closer the start of your lock is to the end of your hair, the further down that little bud that starts the locking process will be. If it starts locking further up, those curly ends will end up straggly ends...

Lastly your locks will be the appropriate size...
This seems a bit abstract. What is the appropriate size? Usually that will mean you will have small to medium locks in front and gradually have larger locks in the back section. A whole head of very small locks is impractical and a whole head of large ones may not be the look you want. You should trust your consultant enough to let them evaluate what makes sense. But if it seems like your consultant wants to give you larger looks than you would like because they don't want to do the work of installing them, go to someone else!

As part of your consultant's package, they may not charge you for the first re-tightening session. That varies from consultant to consultant. But they should let you know in advance. They should also explain or demonstrate how to wash your hair.

Finally, I may get nasty emails as a result, but here goes. Be cautious about someone who applies the logic of traditional cosmetology to installing Sisterlocks. The goal of traditional cosmetology is to ALTER the natural state of our hair. It does not work to transfer those techniques to Sisterlocks. Also if your consultant is doing that, it means they are IMPROVISING and CHANGING the Sisterlocks technique they have been taught. It's a free country, and they may have that right. But they should not pass it off on you without disclosing what they are doing. If you want donnalocks or marylocks or susylocks, get them. But it is unethical in my opinion for someone to change up the product the customer thinks they are going to get. Some people who have been trained in cosmetology-- or traditional lock techniques--seem to get very resistant to adhering completely to the Sisterlock method. They bother me.

OK...enough. I hope this helps someone. If not, I got it off my chest. Peace people!


Dstdiva said...

Soror, You are awesome. This is soooo detailed and thorough. It will definitely help people and has tremendously helped me. It usually takes others having to "go trhough it" in order for others to be saved and thats cool. Thats life I guess.

Carmen In NC said...

Eventhough my consultant didn't follow everything to the T - I love her work and my locks. For those who are starting out, I will link this right now!

My Sisterlocks Experience said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n'Drea said...

Hi, first time to your blog, and I'm loving your locks. Excellent advice too in this post. I agree with Carmen about linking to it for anyone starting out. Thanks for taking the time to care.

Ro~ said...

Let the church say "AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaamen!!" Love your insight on the many topics that have been brought to the Yahoo/Blog forums. By the way love your locs. I hope you don't mind if I save you as one of the "Blogs/Sites I visit often".

Anonymous said...

Hi Haven, Your locks are lovely and the color is fantastic. I have had a very unprofessional consultant who is very unprofessional. I am currenly having severe thinning of my locks all over my whole head, due to taking a medication for 2 months. My locks are 23 months old and my hair is soft and fine. I am worried that they will break off as my hair grows in a way that the are not close together anc cannot be easily combined. Please advise as a consultant.

Renea said...

I'm not a consultant, I have taken the trainee course though to learn all aspects of the technique...I don't do SLs for money. I took the course because I was really fascinated by the whole Sisterlocks phenomenon.

Hopefully, you are seeing a good dermatologist about your hair loss. A dermatologist can help you a lot more than a consultant!

Rather than combining your locks to achieve thickness, focus on the cause of your thinning. When you have new growth, you will be able to start new locks. Combining your locks might make them too heavy and actually make breakage worse.

Follow up with seeing a dermatologist. There may be a solution to you problem. But you won't get it from someone who is trained to style hair.
If your consultant makes you uncomfortable, by all means try to find someone else.

blackrussian said...

Excellent advice. I've linked you as well.

Aya said...

Wow, such great advice. A few things mentioned,I wish I knew prior to installation, however, i'm quite happy withmy sisterlocks. This will truly be helpful to anyone contemplating getting them installed.

salt-n-pepper diva said...

You have certainly helped me!!!!!!! From the aspect of what to expect of my locks and definitely on how to choose a loctician. I was glad that I found a link to YOUR blog. Good looking out my sister!

goingallnatural said...

Thank you so much for this! I'm hoping to get some and there is a trainee now in my area. Her website seems very professional and I hope she is too. I'll be looking out for all the things you mentioned. Thanks again!!!