BUT WHY OH WHY ?
I know this might sound crazy and a complete no go area for some. DIY (Do It Yourself) braiding is not for everyone. It needs plenty of patience. A number of circumstances may lead you to braid your own hair. For some, it might be because of the expenses they have to incur to braid. Personally, I made this decision while at University because my monthly hair expenses were much greater than what I spent on my groceries and occasional take-outs combined the entire month. I decided that something had to change because I love my food that much. Secondly, the amount of pain during braiding and the intense headaches that followed, not forgetting all the hair I would lose during that one session of careless combing/blow-drying by the hairdresser. It was too painful for me to bear and I wasn’t anywhere near my long time hairdresser who knew how to manage my hair properly. Some people do not necessarily care about this, but hey, to each their own.
HOW ABOUT GIVING IT A TRY!
Some people will argue that it is not for everyone and that they will never get it right. While that might be true, you won’t know unless you try. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I recall one of my sisters asking me to assist her with her twists before bed. I was extremely exhausted, so I could only make 3 twists. The latter were neater than what she had done herself and she asked if I could redo the rest. I politely declined. Realizing that begging me to help her with hair was not her cup of tea, she took matters into her own hands. She watched a couple of YouTube videos and practiced on her hair, and viola! Her twists are far better than my own.
“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master”Albert Einstein
PLAY, A FORM OF LEARNING
My hair independence started from childhood. Even though I had little to no knowledge on how to do my own hair, I tried anyway. I am glad that I was given that independence early by my parents. Growing up, I had tonnes of dolls I used to play ‘salon’ with. With that, emerged numerous three strand braiding sessions, combing and attempts to style. The downside to this was that the texture of the dolls’ hair I was playing with was far from what my texture is. I then transferred this playing with dolls hair to my own head. I started to three strand plait my hair but I one thing that I couldn’t grasp was twisting my hair. The twists would always unravel as soon as I let go of the plait. There was once I attempted to braid using yarn. It was a disaster because I ended up knotting my hair and forcefully pulling at the yarn to take it out. Nothing stopped me from experimenting on my hair when it came to braiding or styling at a young age. But Mum continued to help by teaching me how to deal with my hair.
“WE OFTEN TAKE FOR GRANTED THE VERY THINGS THAT MOST DESERVE OUR GRATITUDE” Cynthia Ozick
I am still grateful for those sessions with mum. It really came in handy during my time in boarding school. My friend and I would take turns braiding cornrows on each others’ head. My first attempt at cornrows without braid extensions, was in Grade 9 when I requested my mentor to be my ‘guinea pig’. She graciously accepted. Two hours later, I was finally done plaiting six cornrows on her head. They were surprisingly neat for the first attempt but braiding in a straight line was an epic fail. So, her cornrows consisted of twists and turns. She was so kind as to have them in the whole week. I was grateful she didn’t take them out immediately because the struggle I had gone through was surely real. Bless her. As the school term got more demanding, no one was willing to spend time plaiting. That was the beginning of my DIY cornrowing. I started to plait my own hair. I would stand in the mirror while doing this. After continuously doing this every other Saturday, I started to improve. The lines got better and the cornrows were neater.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
At University, the cost of braiding was very high. I would have preferred to spend the money on anything else but hair. It was also frustrating having to get my hair braided and the salon lady would not care whether you left almost half your hair on the floor or left in so much pain from all that pulling and sometimes not just by one person but by three people pulling in all directions. My hair tends to be untameable, so the braid would sometimes slide out during her attempt to braid. The stressed-out hair dresser would then complain throughout the rest of the braiding session. My wires! After a week of having the braids in, my poor hair roots by the forehead would be waving hello to the public. Due to fear of even more breakage, I would take out the braids after 3 weeks.
I’M OKAY WITH MY CRAZY
Once again, I took a bold move to start braiding my box braids after watching YouTube tutorials. YouTube is the real MVP. Of course, by the time I finished, I could hardly feel my fingers. Luckily, there were a few times my friends would offer to braid my hair and we would take turns braiding each other. This saved me a lot of money and pain from the salon and the braids would last longer. Fast forward to 2018. I was looking for a side hustle over the weekend. With support from my folks, I started practicing how to cornrow with braid extensions on my mum’s head. Ps: by that time, I could only braid with one’s natural hair and braiding with extensions felt like rocket science. One YouTube tutorial after another followed with immense patience on mum’s side as I had to repeat one section 100 times. The first attempt wasn’t too bad but those only lasted 4 days on mum’s head because I had made them too tight just like the hair dressers I now avoided. I didn’t feel bad at all when she took them out. I was willing to learn how to be gentle. A month later, I had my second attempt on mum’s head. This time it was much better than the first. I finally mastered the technique and I had become better. Next, I braided, my sister. I am grateful I had people who were willing to let me learn on their hair.
ACHIEVING SOMETHING IS NOT AS CRUCIAL AS WHAT YOU BECOME ACHIEVING IT.
I finally got the courage to try braiding myself with braid extensions and the result was amazing as seen in the photos throughout this post. I was so proud of myself and glad that I finally had achieved my hair independence. Mostly because it is very expensive to have your hair braided. Through this bold move I got my first client. A friend of mine had see my hair and that’s how my first client came. I was so excited and yet also terrified by the thought of it turning out horrible or far from what she expected. But I was proud of my work and she was happy too. I was grateful that she trusted me enough to braid her. That’s what mattered.
Friends saw my work and by word of mouth and sight, I continue to get clients. It is something that I enjoy doing. Moral of the story, nothing comes easy. It takes hard work and commitment. You need support from those around you. This applies to any area of your life, consistency is key. I am not perfect at braiding but I keep learning. There is no quick fix. “Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master.” Albert Einstein. As I mentioned at the beginning, braiding needs a lot of perseverance and patience. My character is definitely being developed one way or the other because I absolutely need plenty of patience and perseverance in life generally.
NB: Remember, you are marked by flawless craftsmanship