The Harriet Experiment: The Halfway Mark

Saturday night, Akua Auset (left), a makeup artist and author (see our interview on Ms. Auset here) conducted a workshop on creating beauty. Attendees were attentive and open, searching their inner selves to find  answers.

Last New Year’s Eve, we covered the launch party of The Harriet Experiment in Chicago, a yearlong journey of embracing natural textures (see our post here). The journey includes maintenance appointments, workshops on various subjects from a raw detox diet to holistic makeup, and communal support.

This week we also got a chance to talk with the Harriet Experiment’s founder, Emon Fowler (pictured left with Akua Auset). Ms. Fowler is a multitalented natural hair stylist. (She’s also a rapper who was once tapped by M.C. Lyte and has several albums to her credit.) She discussed how she got started in the natural hair business and how her serene oasis beckons loc wearers for renewal.

How did you get started in the business?
My first client was my mom. I was doing micro braids on her hair for three years. I got tired of buying hair, so I styled her own hair and just kept twisting to see what happened. She later wanted locs.

How did you get into the music business?
Around 2001-2002, my brother invited me to come to New York . I released my first album Iman Means Faith. I had a lot of personal challenges, and I was trying to find myself. Wife? Mother? Music? Hair? I asked all of these questions. I lived the high life: clubbing and lots of parties. Taking a break to New York was good for me.

Before I went to New York, I was in L.A. and worked on the show, “The Next.” M.C. Lyte was one of the judges. My brother encouraged me to give her a demo CD. I had written all the lyrics myself. I gave her a copy and about a week later, she called around looking for me. She asked me, “Who are you?” and “If you’re in New York or California, I’d like to work with you.”

When I was in New York, just before I took the state boards, I worked at Guranmi Salon in Brooklyn. The owner, Sandra, was influential for me and I learned everything about locs:  coloring, hydration treatments, and creating styles. I later worked at JC Penney’s salon, where I learned business skills.

What tips can you give loc wearers?
If you’re starting locs, have patience. And when choosing a loctician, they have to be open. If you can’t ask your stylist a question, then go to another stylist.

How much of your clientele wears locs?
Locs are 80 percent of my work. I do see it increasing.

How did you start the Harriet Experiment?
I wanted to make an honest effort to bring the natural hair community together. I attended meetups before and wanted to do one every month as the natural community is still lacking. We have about 300 people embarking on the journey.

We do a lot of workshops. One was how to do a 21-day fast. Another was on teaching children how to comb their own hair. Our first centered around a pledge to take care of ourselves. All of our meetups are about consistently learning and applying it to our everyday lives.

You can reach Emon Fowler on Facebook or at The Harriet Experiment or at 855-TEAM-700.

Emon transformed my new growth to this fish tail braid updo style shown here. A fish tail braid is formed by taking locs parted in two, using locs from the side of each, and bringing them over one by one, wrapping the parts towards the center. The front is braided back to get locs off the face. She wanted to give me a style I could use to quickly put my hair up during workouts.  She treated me to a before and after photo posted to Facebook!

Here’s some more styles from the Harriet Experiment particpants. (Notice our first Loc’d Life annual issue in the background. Thanks, Emon! Look for our next annual, days away!)

Till next time,
Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine

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