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

A little help from my friends

Illustration by Gail Mitchell

As Facebook went public with its stock this week, I thought what a wonderful opportunity  to thank the many friends that have graced our Facebook page. They’ve inspired, created artistry and generated excitement  with every post.  Here are some of the loc loves we have online…

Photo and Make-up by D’Andre Michael; Hair by Michelle London and Hair color by Tika Sheffield Epiphany Hair Salon DC

With every post, she reminds us why she is our loc star! With her signature updo, Ledisi continues to wow the music industry with her soulful voice and regal locs. I look forward to her every note!

From the Khamit Kinks website at

Khamit Kinks
This New York salon is one of the top spots for locs in the country. Anu Prestonia celebrates natural hair in all of its beauty, and I especially look forward to her posts that feature locs.  Here are just some of the looks turning heads on the East Coast.

The Loc Den
This North Houston salon heats up our Facebook page with innovative styles. Shenaté Lamar provides interesting updos, curly styles and men’s styles that turn more than just heads.

All images owned by their respective owners.

Lady Influence
All I can be said about this Facebook friend’s awesome posts are ooohs and ahhhhs!!! Her loc-inspiring picks grace our news feeds and bring them to a stunning halt. Loc styles, natural styles, and those that make you want to print them out just to have for the journey are what this friend does best.

More from Facebook
If you missed it, Loc’d Life interviewed M. Michele George, author of the Knotty Truth, a comprehensive guide to loc care and maintenance. Ms. George wanted us to add this to the article, so here it is…

Hey Gail, awesome article. Just one update, could you please update the part about locs being hard. It states patience and cost. But I preach that locking is cheap and manageable if you do it yourself. … You pulled it all together nicely. I’d love to work on a future project with you. Your artistic skills and art work is amazing! Bless.

Thank you Ms. George. Loc’d Life readers, let’s support her, buy the book, and get the information we need about locs.

Thank you for “friending” us, and continue to “Like” us on Facebook. We will feature more of our friends. To you all, I love your support. I’m almost done with our second printed annual. Watch for it soon…

Till next time,
Gail  Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine

Copyright © 2012. All photos owned by their respective owners and are used to promote those featured.

Nothing but the Knotty Truth

Author M. Michele George, author of The Knotty Truth

Whether you’re a seasoned loctician, a newbie with starter locs, or just interested in locs in general, the book, The Knotty Truth: Creating Beautiful Locks on a Dime!: A Comprehensive Guide to Creating Locks is for you. It is the guide for those interested in the loc industry. Author Myra Michele George talked with Loc’d Life about her second book as truly a one-of-a-kind guide for information on locs.

What inspired you to write this second book on locs?
Locs deserve a whole book unto itself. I started loc’ing in 2006 and looked to see what resources are out there. That led to more questions. I decided to put a resource out there that had information on locs in one place—things I couldn’t find in just a workshop or seminar. I wanted to create a resource to teach other professionals. This is the only book that exclusively goes into locs for those in the cosmetology industry and is available for laypeople as well.

What inspired you to do The Knotty Truth on locs?
I was inspired by the need for information. Information on locs was not consolidated in one place. There’s a lot of nuances to locs, and the same information doesn’t work for everybody. We all start with different lengths, have different hair textures, hair porosity (definition), density of scalp and hair…The book is a cosmetology manual. Growing locs is also a mental journey, for which this book prepares you. There’s also information on how to match locs to your personality, how to care for them, and how to interview your stylist. It is 300 pages on all locs.

How did you get interested in locs?
At first I was living a healthy natural lifestyle. I went natural in 2003-2004. I didn’t want to loc, but when it reached a certain length (2006), I went to locs. I did my mental research. That’s what I applied to my book.

What is the easiest thing about locs?
Not having to detangle after shampooing.

What’s the hardest thing about having locs?
Not having enough patience and sometimes the cost. Loc’ing is cheap and manageable if you do it yourself.

What started your interest in being a lobbyist for natural hair in the beauty industry?
I am an antagonist to the beauty industry. I followed in the footsteps of a long tradition. My grandmother was a beautician. I got involved in a program and started a styling blog. I found that there are no beauty schools in Ohio that offered a program on styling natural hair. I soon realized that the cosmetology system does disenfranchise women wanting to do natural hair. Most schools refused to train people in natural hair, and those who tried to take state boards using natural-haired mannequins were disqualified. Once you become a licensed stylist, you have to go further [to be trained in the natural hair industry]. In Illinois, there’s just the basics in cosmetology on natural hair—sanitation, herringbone braids, tracks, weaves… There isn’t too much on locs.

I’ve seen a lot of loc bloggers and a lot of  loc wearers who have never been to a loctician. What advice would you give to those do their locs themselves?
Empower yourself. I stopped going to beauticians. I have had an adversarial relationship with them. They wanted me to relax the natural curl when I wanted to go natural. Some tried to talk me out of it altogether. I came into an awareness. My best advice: Stay out of the chair. Read books like The Knotty Truth. Empower yourself to embrace yourself.

What advice would you give in general?
For loc maintenance you need three things: patience, pictures of locs to hold on to the journey, and deprogram yourself to stay away from a lot of products. I am a “homemade” person. I condition my locs with natural aloe vera juice. I use African Black Soap to shampoo. I do recommend getting a good clarifying shampoo and use that once every four months to clarify locs. But beware: a lot of shampoos have known carcinogens. DEA (diethanolamine) has been known to cause cataracts. Sodium laurel sulfate also has some cataract issues.

What do locs mean to you?
Freedom! No detangling. No need to do twists. And in these tough times, locs fit your budget. Locs are the best way. You can’t be a product junkie. Save money and buy products you can even cook with.

As you know, locs have gotten a bad rap. How do you think we can change the image of locs?
Locs can be as professional as you are. When I was working, I have successfully gotten 5 jobs with locs. We need to put out images that defy perceptions. Nappy hair is as professional as you are. There’s upsweeps, buns…it’s truly versatile.

M. Michelle George’s book, The Knotty Truth: Creating Beautiful Locks on a Dime! A Comprehensive Guide to Creating Locks is available on (You can also buy her first book which covers all natural hair there, too!)

Till next time,
Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine

Copyright © 2012. All photos are owned by their respective owners.

Loc love from Jamaica, yah man!

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Here’s some love for locs right from my homeland, Jamaica. The Loc Society celebrates locs in Jamaica with inspirational pictures of styles, tips on care and other items about locs.

The Loc Society is the creation of Deniece Didan Ashanta Falconer.  She describes The Loc Society  as a newly-formed public non-profit organization with a passion for loc’d hairstyles in Jamaica. Her mission:

1. To facilitate the networking of loc-wearers, locticians, and loc-lovers in Jamaica.

2. To educate loc-wearers and loc-lovers on the cultivation, grooming and beautification of loc’d hairstyles.

3. To foster and promote activities that provide guidance and resources for loc-wearers and loc-lovers in Jamaica.

When I started Loc’d Life back in 2009, the biggest need I heard from my readers was the need to see more images of themselves, and to get more information on how to care for their locs. I’ve also expanded to help advertisers, fellow magazines, and other media makers to consider locs as another option in the hiring of modeling talent, actors and actresses, and beyond. This way, there will be less negative stereotypes, less misinformation, and more confidence about wearing locs.

I have heard that recently Rastafarians in Jamaica have had to cut off their locs just to avoid discrimination against them. Hopefully, organizations like The Loc Society (and Loc’d Life, of course) can help in changing minds and viewpoints about locs as beautiful way to express yourself!

Above are pictures from her Facebook page (all courtesy of the Loc Society; and all owned by their respective owners). Enjoy!

Till next time,

Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine

Locs on the Rocks!

I found this BEAUTIFUL photo of Erykah Badu online with a flowered loc updo. You, too, can achieive this look with a beehive updo secured with pins and with silk flowers applied throughout.

First, let me say that I found this beautiful picture of Erykah Badu with a flowered loc updo. I just had to post it.

Secondly, let me say that I am copyrighting the title “Locs on the Rocks” for an upcoming party for our Loc’d Life Magazine second annual launch. It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me, but I promise, it is coming very soon.

Third–and it’s what this post is about– is clarification. Yes clarification for locs. Who would ever think that vodka could be an excellent rinse for removing buildup and increasing shine? I found this vodka-shampoo mix that does just that. Let me say that I have not tried this, but I will and report my findings in a future post.

Vodka Hair Clarifier

Add a bit of vodka into your shampoo! It’ll help to detoxify your hair, removing buildup from products and minerals in your water. You’ll notice an increase in shine and a vast improvement in flat, lifeless hair.

The vodka also deep cleanses the scalp, which can stimulate the follicles and promote healthy hair growth. So this is an inexpensive practice to possibly ward off hair loss by keeping the scalp ultra-clean and free of growth-retarding buildup on the follicles.

Condition afterwards with a quality moisturizing conditioner to restore softness and manageability to the hair.

The pictures on the site show shiny, clean locs afterwards. If you missed last week’s post, we featured a great shampoo to use, too. Just a tip that I had never heard of before, but wanted to pass along to you.

Until next time,
Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine

You have to try this shampoo!

Regularly washing locs is the best way to keep buildup at bay. A castile soap is great for a non-drying cleanse.

I admit it. I am a hair product addict. If I see something interesting—twisting gels, leave-in conditioners, loc conditioners, whatever—I have to buy it and try it out, even if I have some on hand.

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap is a oil-blend-based soap that doesn't say it's a shampoo, but many use it as one.

Shampoos are no different. I’ve picked up many a shampoo. My bathtub wall was full of shampoos at one point. I always end up going back to one in particular: Dr. Bronner’s  Liquid Pure-Castile Soap. I have used the Lavender in the past. This time I tried the Rose scent, and I have found the perfect shampoo.


It lathers perfectly the first time and every time. You don’t need much, and you get so much lather. It’s great if you are in hurry (as I was this morning!), when you have to quickly wash your locs. A second shampoo only confirms the cleanse.

It has a mild, attractive scent. I bent my head down to do something, and I smelled a beautiful scent as one of my locs brushed past my face. I believe it is a new scent for Dr. Bronner’s.

It is oil based, so it is non-drying. Dr. Bronner’s is an oil-based soap, so it doesn’t strip your locs of moisture and natural oils as it cleanses. It’s a combination of organic coconut, olive, jojoba, and hemp oils, with essential oils for the scents.

Dr. Bronner’s  soaps are not technically shampoos, but a lot of loc wearers use them as one. I first read about it in the book Nice Dreads, by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner. It comes in a variety of scents, it’s economical because you don’t have to use as much, and it is as a great price point, and most health food stores carry them.

Again, I’ve tried a lot of shampoos. I tried one that I had to use the entire bottle to get a lather the first time. This soap, however, never disappoints.

Visit their website to order, or visit your local Whole Foods or health food store to purchase. It comes in a variety of sizes from a small bottle to gallon sizes.

Till next time,
Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine

Role Models: Ericka Jones Purvis

In the third of our series, Role Models, Loc’d Life talks to another loc’d hair model, Ericka Jones Purvis, model and entrepreneur. See how locs have helped her arrive…

How long have you been modeling?
I’ve modeled since 2007, and now I do on an “as needed” basis. I am on the Organic RootStimulator’s site as a model in one of their demo videos. I am now a party planner and event designer for my company, A Social Life ( I focus on any type of event from birthday parties to other special occasions.

Has wearing locs opened doors for you?
My best opportunities have come with my locs. When I started out, my locs were short, and I worked in the health care industry. I’ve found that it is all about how you perceive yourself. It’s all about confidence. There’s nothing wrong with wearing natural hair.
Since my hair has grown, I’ve tried different styles. Now it’s down my back. People will ask questions. There’s a curiosity. I get questions, and you’ll get some comments both positive and negative. I answer them, then when they come up and see it up close, they say “OK”. Yes, Everybody has a different thing going on with their locs.

How long have you worn your locs?
This is my 14th year. I started them with 1½ inches. Now it’s grazing the lower part of my back.

What are some of your loc secrets?
Keep it oiled. I use jojoba oil, and I use as much of the Organic Root Stimulator line as possible: the Uplift Shampoo, the Hair Mayonnaise, the Olive Oil Hair Sheen (I use that a lot), the Lock and Twist Gel, the Nature’s Shine oil, and the No More Flakes Dry Relief.
My best advice is to use products that go together—don’t “cocktail”. Use the shampoo with the conditioner and follow with other products in the line.

(BTW—this is part of a sneak peek of our second print annual, coming soon.)

Until then,
Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine

Second Printed Annual Coming Soon!

Watch our promo video above and answer our open call for submissions. To be considered, post your email information below as a reply, along with your website or online presence information (facebook, etc.) Advertisers, you won’t find a better deal on advertising, as we are closing this issue soon! Our audience (and our potential audience) is always looking for new loctician services, new products and accessories pertaining to locs. For more information on us, visit Click on the blog link to return to our blog. (Thanks to our cover model Sandria Washington and photographer Ben Mays for this beautiful photo. We need more Role Models for this story BTW. Reply below if interested!)

Time to shine

We saw this post on the Fabulocs facebook page. Nimat gave us permission to post. (Look for this article in our print annual coming soon…)

Why do locs lose their sheen as they mature and what can be done about it?

This Fabulocs client just started her locs with these shiny coils.

Take a look at this photograph of a client who just started her locs. As you can see, the locs are very shiny and soft looking. Most locs look this way at first, but as they mature they begin to lose their sheen. This is due to the fact that hair shines best when it is all flowing in the same direction. That is why hair looks shinier when it is straight than when it is in its coily or kinky state.

When you first begin, all the hairs in the loc have been combed into a coil (if you started with coils) and are flowing in one direction. This is why the loc is so shiny. As the hair locs, it begins to mat in many directions. When you look at a mature loc, notice that you can’t really tell what direction the hair is going in anymore. This causes a loss of sheen. As the locs mature and become more and more matted, you will notice that it becomes more difficult to maintain sheen.

What can be done about this? The type of maintenance you are receiving and the products you are using can dramatically affect the amount of sheen in the locs.

Try wrapping the locs instead of just palm rolling. When you palm roll, you press the hair into the loc (in what every direction it has assumed) with your palms and roll it. You are able to neaten and turn the loc however, you are unable to control the direction of the hair or how it mats. When you wrap the loose hair, you are able to control each strand of hair. This will result in the frizz or loose hairs laying in the same direction. The frizz or loose hair can mat in a more organized fashion resulting in more sheen.

Using a product that does not contain drying alcohol or hardeners is also key. Try the Fabulocs Loc Binding Butter for the best results. To see a demonstration on loc wrapping, please go to and click on the products page under Loc Binding Butter. Fabulocs products and techniques have successfully helped thousands of clients to renew the sheen and softness in their locs.

(Thanks to Nimat of Fabulocs for allowing us permission to post!)

D.I.Y. Locs

This is me after my locstitch session. I did this updo as well!

This week I had a hair emergency: an event to go to and no time for a salon. What’s an editor to do? Do it yourself!

I have started and maintained my locs using the locstitch method for the past 5 years. With this method, one uses a latchhook to tighten, and almost “stitch” hair together so it is already fused and ready to loc. This method works best for finer hair textures. So I took my own advice, my experience watching my locticians, and an e-book by Cherie King, which I purchased a while back. I used a latchhook to tighten and restitch my new growth.

1. For the loc maintenance, I started with a shampoo and a towel dry. To condition, I used Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Oil Lotion moisturizer all over.

2. Apply a twisting gel to the base of your first loc. I used Fabulocs Loc Binding Butter to add shine and ultimate staying power.

3. Start with holding an individual loc with one hand. At the base, insert your finger to separate the new growth.

4. Insert the latchhook through the hole created and hook the same loc through the hole.

5. Pull the loc through until tight at the base.

6. Repeat, but at a different angle and create a new hole in the remaining new growth, insert the latchhook, hook the same loc and pull through.

7. Continue until tightened at the base, and continue until all new growth is retightened at the base.

8. Use an oil to moisturize the scalp and locs. (I used coconut oil.) Then use a loc gel to smooth locs from root to ends.

9. Sit under a warm dryer to set the gel and to fully dry locs.

Voila! You’re done. The key is to use the latchhook from different angles so you don’t stitch in the same direction and create a hole in your locs. Try not to overtighten or stitch too often (You’ll be amazed at your new powers!) It takes a long time and it’s a workout for your arms, but you can do it yourself.

Gail Mitchell
Loc’d Life Magazine

Love of Locks opening in Chicago

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Loc’d Life visited Love of Locks opening for its new salon in Chicago this past week. Loc styles—in a new location. Lady Simone, owner and lead loctician, is starting a new tradition in her new salon on Chicago’s far South Side. Love of Locks has been an ardent supporter of Loc’d Life since our beginning in 2009. We wish her well in her new location! Be on the lookout for more photos from this salon in our 2nd annual coming soon! (Chicago, 11105 S. Vincennes,


We found this article on facebook  page, via the Loc Society,  and thought it would be of use to our readers. Read on…

Senator Bats For Dreadlocks

(from the Jamaica Gleaner, Monday, March 12, 2012)

Angela Brown Burke, a first-timer in legislature, made the comment while contributing to a debate on Jamaica Day in the Senate on Friday.

“I, too, long for the day when bleaching is rejected as a stepping stone to social mobility, or acceptance of self. (I long) for the day when natural hairstyles like braids are culturally accepted at the workplace or in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF),” Brown Burke said.

Her comment bears a striking resemblance to statements made by Damion Crawford, the first dreadlocked person to be elected to the House of Representatives.

In the run-up to the December 29, 2011 general election, Crawford, scoffed at calls for him to cut his dreadlocks to gain acceptance from some persons in the society.

“I hear dem going around ’bout cut me locks, let me tell yuh sup’m, it is not about only Rasta. I am the example of the struggle. I am the example for the persons who feel that dem have to bleach to reach.

“I am the example for every single individual that there is oppression and injustice against, and that it has been made harder for them because of how they look or because of what they say or because of where they are from. I am the example of that struggle,” Crawford said.

No obstacle

His locks did not prove to be obstacles to Gordon House as he defeated the Jamaica Labour Party’s Joan Gordon Webley to win East Rural St Andrew for the People’s National Party.

But while Brown Burke and Crawford have defied the Eurocentric grooming rules to the point where they are now legislators, may Jamaicans face discrimination because of the choice they make about growing their hair.

Recently, some women serving in the JCF have claimed that their situation has worsened since Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington announced in the November 2010 Force Orders that the only natural hairdo accepted by the constabulary was fine corn or cane rows.

The order states there should be no weaves, extensions or braids, rope twist, Chinese or Nubian bumps, dreadlocks twists or fat plaits.

The Commissioner, however, granted approval for the European or Asian-looking wigs or straightening with relaxers to cover or change the texture of what many worldwide describe as kinky black women’s tresses.

Unacceptable situation

Professor Verene Shepherd, director, Institute for Gender & Development Studies, University of the West Indies, has described the situation as unacceptable.

“I say, allow our black women, wherever they work, to wear braids, Afro hairstyle, sister locks or any other locks they may choose, and disrupt the elitist and colonial mentality that reminds us of a time we would rather forget,” Shepherd said.

During her presentation on Friday, Brown Burke said she longs for the day when “there are no questions about including the writings and teachings of Garvey in our schools, and when wearing African attire does not earn you a place on the worst-dressed list.”

She added: “When I reflect on 2011, as a year that has just ended, my one real regret is that in the year when we celebrated people of African descent, as a country, we did not have an activity that really marked that year in a significant way.”