I have lived in Charleston for a little while now, but I have never explored Summerville the supposed “Birthplace of Sweet Tea” about a 15 minute drive from where I live in North Charleston. Yet on October 23rd I had the pleasure of attending and blogging at the First Ladies Loc In hosted by Impress Braids Locs & Naturals Salon. One of many precursor events to the upcoming first annual Carolina Loc Fest coming in June 2017 (check out the recap by clicking here). Before the event got started I had the opportunity to sit down with 2 Queens; Impress Braids Locs & Naturals owner Sakeenah and one of her supportive clients Danielle to discuss natural hair, natural hair empowerment and natural hair culture for women of color. Keep reading to check out my interview with Sakeenah and stay tuned for my interview with Danielle.
From the moment I walked through the front door of her salon Sakeenah greeted me with a big smile. She welcomed me as if I were one of her close friends. Both she and her salon radiate positive and soothing vibes. The sweet subtle smell of incense slowly teased my senses as she moved about the room relighting the incense burners closest to the door. I knew the evening was off to a great start when she asked if I wanted a snack and a drink- because a sistah was parched. Born and raised in Columbia, SC Sakeenah has been styling hair since the age of 10. Her easy going yet professional nature during our chat gave me a sneak peek into her day to day salon flow and I must say I was impressed.
ThatGalRei: So just tell me a little about yourself like where you’re from, what you do?
Sakeenah: I’m from Columbia South Carolina I’ve worked in a shop since 2000 and I’ve been doing hair all my life literally since I was 10 years old I’ve been doing hair. My mom kicked me out of doing hair out the house in the garage, so at 16 I started in the shop. Like I said I’ve been doing hair for a long time. I worked under Taliah Waajid the owner of the Taliah Black Earth Products for 7 years in Atlanta. She’s known for the famous natural hair show in Atlanta. I trained and worked under her and after I got tired of Atlanta I came back to South Carolina and have been working ever since. But I’ve always done natural hair/locs that has always been my passion.
TGR: When did you start your business here?
How long have you been natural?
Sakeenah: I’ve been natural all my life really. My mother was Muslim so I was kinda one of those kids that you just gotta have it. You’re not gonna have a relaxer your choice are locs or natural hair.
TGR: Do you find it difficult to stay true to yourself as a naturalista or better yet have you had any negative experiences because of your hair?
Sakeenah: 10 years ago or 12 years ago being the only the only one. Yea, I had to face being the only one with locs or the only one wearing wraps. It’s changed now, it’s not how it used to be.
TGR: Within your field is it ever difficult to be natural, to be yourself?
Sakeenah: It’s hard but like I said it’s getting easier now. Again I grew up Muslim my mom had to come up to the school all the time middle school and high school because they were saying I couldn’t wear head wraps. They said that they were gang affiliated…They didn’t want me to wear my head wrap at graduation but it’s just a head wrap just relax. But things have changed a lot it’s not how it used to be.
TGR: How about the experiences that encourage and motivate you?
Sakeenah: I would say what keeps me going is… I love I love seeing a client that gets out of the chair that has never seen their hair look good or they had locs for 7 years and not be happy with their hair. I love being the stylist that makes people love their locs or love their hair with healthy roots. A lot of people do locs but they don’t know how to keep their hair healthy I really take pride in making sure everyone’s roots are strong and their hair is healthy hair
TGR : Can I ask you for some tips and advice for my readers? Products you like etc.?
Sakeenah: Stay away from gels, waxes anything that cause build up. I see that in a lot of people they use heavy products that cause gunk and build up in the hair. Now if you have locs its best to keep natural oil on them so you’re not putting too much on the hair so that it grows faster. Don’t over twist and stick with the same stylist because some twist to the left some twist to the right you don’t want to have a loc pop off.
Don’t forget to check Sakeenah and her salon in Summerville, SC by clicking the website below. You can also follow her on Instagram where you’ll find her work