Saturday, December 01, 2007

It started short...

Unfortunately, it is possible to get bad work from a consultant...for a variety of reasons. In some cases, I think they get lazy. In others, I think they get arrogant and figure they know what they are doing just as well as 'that JoAnne' and they are going to what they want to do.

I just wish that these 'consultants' would tell their customers that they make this deviation or that change, so we can make informed decisions.

I wrote awhile back about an amazing braider that I know. She was actually teaching me to braid. She had developed her own parting pattern and her braids were unique and beautiful. She decided to use HER braiding pattern when she did 'sisterlocks.' The problem--her pattern did not leave straight, grid-like parts. It didn't look bad. But it wasn't the Sisterlock pattern. The shape of her parts meant you ended up with fewer total locks and no center or side parts for styling... But she didn't tell her clients about her variation. It was only because I met a consultant using the correct technique that I even had a point of reference. The braider felt that because of her considerable experience as a braider she could make whatever variation she wanted.

And I've talked to other locticians who feel the same way-- I sat next to a very obnoxious woman during my consultant training class who was openly talking with her companion about the changes she was going to make to the technique--if she even offered it at all-- back in her own lock shop. She wasn't going to do all that parting...she wasn't going to make locks that small...she wasn't going install so many. She hadn't even left the room! I can only imagine what kind of mess she's up to now-- and she IS a trainee consultant because she did, in fact, take the official class.

If at all possible, talk to a few people before choosing a consultant. Sometimes the best person for the job is a trainee. Like doctors, sometimes there are quacks and sometimes newly minted MDs are more up-to-date and careful with their technique. But we also know that trainees make rookie mistakes too.

I think the common denominator are personality offense. I think stubbornness and/or a lack of humility and/or vanity and/or carelessness lead to this problem.

Is this your consultant?

1-- If you don't listen to anybody else and always digging in your heels, you are going to make have to listen to learn the Sisterlocks technique.

2-- Relatedly, if you cannot bear to have people think you don't understand (a classic case of I-know-expertitis), you are going to make have be willing to ask questions and start learning the technique comfortable with the idea you are learning something NEW.

3-- If you think you should be JoAnne Cornwell or Taliah Waajid, you are going to make mistakes. YOU need to create your own system or product and stop swagger-jacking --LocLoops, sorry couldn't help it. Offering someone a service is NOT about you and your need for people to recognize your hair genius.

4-- If you are careless or just not a details-oriented person or you just have poor motor skills (smile), you are going to make mistakes. You need to have an acumen for doing close work, you need to ENJOY the idea of being precise, and you need to have the capability to understand and do the technique. If you have a little arthritis...this is not for you.

5-- If you get easily frustrated or if you don't notice when you make a mistake until someone else tells you, you are going to make mistakes.

So...did I just describe your consultant?

Lastly, if your potential consultant offers other services than Sisterlocks --palm-rolled, nappylocs, etc.-- I would ask them SPECIFICALLY if they follow the Sisterlock method during their installations. I would ask them what they thought were the differences between the techniques they offered. Usually those kinds of direct questions will give you an opportunity to find out whether the person is straightforward and/or ethical about what they are doing. 1) Do they use the Sisterlocks tool? 2) Do they use a Sisterlocks sizing chart? 3) Do they start the installation in the front of your head? 4) How many locks do they typically install?

Even if you don't know the answers to these questions yourself, you are looking at their demeanor... Does it seem like this person is trying to blow some smoke up... anyway. That loctician I met who tried to convince me that my Sisterlocks were going to break off because they were too small...eventually you'll meet one of those too. It's rite of passage like having someone rush up and TOUCH your hair without asking.

As soon as I asked her HOW she knew that...Then her game was blown..."Oh cuz somebody told me that they knew somebody who had Sisterlocks and they broke off and you don't ever see anybody who has sisterlocks longer than three years." Really? Really? Sure enough, this dizzy chick didn't know a damn thing about Sisterlocks--the technique or the logic beneath it. She wanted me to get scared and let her --of course-- fix my hair. That's one of the reasons JoAnne Cornwell says she is growing her hair so long--so people can see that they do not break, that they are not too small.


muslimahlocs said...

the lack of ethics and integrity among natural hair care providers is pervasive. they make us lawyers look good in comparison.

i am truly baffled by their sheer audacity. if "they" want to do sisterlocks, then why not get trained AND install them the right way.

selling or acquiring their alleged skills from a "box" and then either explicity or implicity referring to them as sisterlocks or knowingly allowing others to do so is just wrong.

but can we blame them when there are oodles of customers out there who could care less about ethics and integrity as long as they save a little bit of money.

in the sans-hijab era, i too had people who did "x,y,z" locks acknowledge that i had sisterlocks and then offer to do them for me using some other tool or "method". um, no.

buyer beware. i feel badly for those sisters who really want(ed) sisterlocks and find(found) themselves in the wrong chair. i have witnessed too many women approach dr. c in tears when they saw what sisterlocks were really suppossed to look like.

i am glad you wrote about this renea. i don't have the stomach for it.

naadii salaam said...

i'm glad that you wrote about this topic too,because it's related to a topic that i frequently yak about...what has to be done in order for a real system of licensure to be put into place for natural hair care professionals?!?!?!
cosmetology laws are governed on a state-by-state basis. the number of states with laws governing natural hair care services is pitifully low.

why aren't states concerned about potential health risks to their citizens? (i do recognize that they might in general be unconcerned as this is mostly an issue of "color") but evenstill, what about the money? the amount of revenue that states could collect from requiring licensure, adherence to laws (punishable by fines), annual renewal fees, etc. seems like enough of an incentive, yet so many states seem unconcerned.

i am not a sisterlocker, so i don't feel that i can speak on people perpetrating a fraud with that. but i can say that sometimes there is a lack of dedication on the part of stylists and i think that an important question to ask is whether or not the stylist engages in any type of ongoing education or training. whether it has to do with styling or sanitation, i believe that continuing education is vital to a stylist's ability to offer the best service to their clients.

laughed out loud at "swagger jacking"!

props to you too muslimahlocs for calling out the customers who care less about technique, ethics, and integrity than they do about saving money...gotta remember that you get what you pay for. after all you're not JUST paying to get your hair should be paying to get your hair done well (the first time around). if clients don't demand excellence, stylists do start to get slack and then they expect to be paid well for mediocre work. on the flip side, if a stylist is doing good work, the way it's supposed to be done, they should be paid what they ask (so long as it's reasonable), not bargained down.

Tamra said...

Thanks for the post, Renea.

After years of trying to convince her to get locked too, my mom has finally decided to do it (probably some time in January)--I'd be really PO'd if I sent her to get Sisterlocks and she wound up with something that indeed was not. I'll make sure she asks the right questions before committing to the person I "researched" and recommended.

My aunt and her daughter in Delaware just got them also after much convincing (and they now think they're hot stuff and that Sisterlocks are the best thing since sliced bread), and I'm only hoping that they got what they thought they were getting (now that I look back on it, I hope I did...). My aunt did a decent bit of research before getting hers (with my help), so she was pretty knowledgeable before going in--but, I wonder now.

Thanks again.

Naturally Sophia said...

Preach! Also, I have had bad experiences from "cosmotologists". I have done hair for so and so years. Your hair is gonna break off. Too small. Blah! Blah! Sometimes I want to split them just to prove them wrong.

Lakia said...

This is very good advice. I hope some of those bad trainees and consultants would read your post and feel convicted.