By Terez Howard

With Sisterlocks, they’re called consultants or trainees.  With traditional dreadlocks, they’re called locticians.  No matter what title you give this person, these ladies and gentlemen are professionals who care for locked hair.

But not all locticians actually act like professionals.  Some show up late for appointments or don’t show up at all, give you incorrect advice, give you no advice, demean your ideas, work in disgusting environments and the like.  Maybe they can “do hair,” and do it well.  They do not, however, treat you like a valued customer.  How can you avoid getting sucked into a cycle of visiting an unprofessional loctician, consultant, trainee or whatever they call themselves?

7 sure signs of an unprofessional loctician:

  1. She does not have a portfolio of her work.  If she can not show you detailed pictures of what her clients’ hair look like, run in the other direction.  Why believe in someone’s abilities if there is no proof to believe?  If her portfolio isn’t handy, wait to see it until you make any decisions with your hair.  Although they can be taken down, locs are a permanent hair style.  Get them done correctly the first time.
  2. She does not offer test locs.  With Sisterlocks, consultants/trainees are required to put in Sisterlocks.  I believe a truly professional loctician would, at the very least, offer to try a few locs out in your head.  She could try different types and patterns.  Think about it this way:  Would you buy a car without test driving it?  Don’t buy into a loctician without having the option of getting test locs.
  3. You can never get her to call/text/e-mail you back.  If you contact your loctician, she should have a policy of returning your message within a day or two.  Personally, I would like to hear something within 24 hours.  It’s only good business etiquette.  Of course, she might be busy or have had an emergency.  However, within reason, you should not have to wait days on end to hear back from her.  If you’re waiting two weeks to get a reply on an appointment time, then make an appointment with someone else.  A cycle of not returning your phone calls, texts or e-mails will lead to frustration, especially if you encounter problems with your hair.
  4. She exhibits no natural hair knowledge. She should not be using beeswax or some thick, heavy brown or black gel to get locs to form.  Those products will cause unmanageable build-up over time.  If you have a loose curl pattern, she have an idea of what to do to get locs to form.  If you want small, neatly-parted locs, she should know how to bring that to life.  She should be able to answer your questions or at least be willing to find answers for you.
  5. She does not want to consider your ideas.  She decides what is best for your hair.  To some degree, you are asking her to make some decisions regarding maintaining your locs because you are hiring a loctician.  However, you are getting locs because you have an idea of how you want your hair to look.  True, you might not get exactly what you want, but you should know that that fact will not be your loctician’s fault.  Listen to how she responds to you, and note if she has a willingness to do your dreadlocks the way you wish or the way she thinks is best.
  6. Her “salon” is creepy.  OK, I understand that not all locticians own an upscale salon.  A loctician might work out of her home’s basement.  She might have a salon.  No matter where she does hair, the surroundings should be clean.  Do not ignore dirty, unkempt, cluttered surroundings.  If her space is unorganized, this probably means that she is not organized.  It also shows how much she values what she does.
  7. She does not make your appointments.  How would you feel if you drove 2 1/2 hours to an appointment only to find your consultant out of town?  Imagine how I felt when this happened to me!  You feel like you are not a valuable customer, like your time is worthless.  What if you show up for a scheduled appointment and someone else is in her chair, and she looks at you wide-eyed, saying “What you are doing here?”  You have to wait until she completes that head or go back later.  Most of us don’t have free time to spend going back and forth and back and forth to get our locs maintained.  She should treat you like your time is her time.  If she has to cancel or reschedule, she should do so well in advance.

Maybe you haven’t gotten locs yet.  Maybe you are on the prowl for the perfect, professional loctician.  How can you find her?  Basically, look for the opposite of what you read above.

Tips to finding a professional loctician:

  1. She readily shows you her portfolio and, not only does what you see inside it look good, but the portfolio itself is ingood condition.  It isn’t tattered and splattered with coffee stains.  It is professional.

    professional loctician

    Source: Black Women Natural Hairstyles

  2. She offers to install test locs, so you can see how your hair responds to locs over a short period of time.
  3. She gives you the best way to contact her.  Some love to text, while others religiously answer phone calls.  For still others, e-mail works best.  Whatever works for her, she openly tells you and follows through.
  4. She knows her stuff.  She can give you the A to Z on locked hair and back again.
  5. She is willing to get your dreadlocks at the level you wish.  She and you have to have some sort of chemistry because you will be spending a lot of time with her.
  6. Her salon/work space is neat and clean.
  7. She keeps her appointments.  Even if she’s running a little behind, she expects you.

Also, keep in mind:

  1. You get what you pay for.  Just because Loctician A charges $10 to do what Loctician B charges $60 to do doesn’t mean you go with what’s cheaper.  It also doesn’t necessarily mean that Loctician B is better.  You should examine why Loctician B feels she’s worth six times what Loctician A charges.
  2. That said, interview locticians.  Pretend you are hiring someone for a job.  Actually, that’s what you are doing!  You are going to spend your hard-earned money on your head.  Ask locticians about her portfolio, test locs, contact information and appointment scheduling.   See if she has a willingness to work with you.  Check out where you’ll be getting your hair done.  Make sure she has knowledge, which leads to…
  3. Do your homework.  You will only know if she has knowledge about dreadlocks, if you have some knowledge yourself.  Go to websites and blogs about natural hair.  Get active on locked hair forums, and go to the interview, armed with knowledge of your own.
  4. Know your natural hair.  Spend some time with your loose natural hair.  Even if you’ve recently had the big chop and you’re sure without a doubt that you want locs, first learn what your natural hair likes and doesn’t like.  Acquaint yourself with your curl pattern.  Just because the loctician is the professional doesn’t mean she has to know your hair better than you do.

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