An artist who uses locs to create art
Questions to Thando Kafele
How would you introduce yourself?
Waddup, son!!! (laughs). My name is Thando Kafele. www.locstylist.com. Self esteem specialist.
What is your earliest memory of doing hair?
Oh my goodness!!! (says reflectively). (long pause) Twisting hair at my grandparents house for fun.
How, why and when did you get into natural hairstyling?
In the late 90s, I was offered to interview and Locks and Chops, the premiere natural hair salon for training and styling after one of the owners complimented a client on his hair at a club one evening. Having no interest in becoming a hair stylist but also feeling the stress of working for corporate America at the time, I chose to examine the possibilities of what natural hair had to offer. Receptionist for law firm in Washington DC
What is so special about natural, nappy, kinky hair?
For me its not that its special, but its what I have. Its what comes naturally. And to view a disconnection in African-American people who are not user-friendly with what God gave them. More so with women, there is a difference between those who decide to wear straight/relaxed/fake hair as a free will choice and those who do it as a lack of love for self. Thats where I change the equation.
I never knew about the natural hair competitions and I was in awe when I first saw one. Do you know when, where and how it all started and when did you start participating?
I dont know when it all started, but my reign (laughs) as undefeated lock styling champ, meaning having always placed, began in 1997 until 2006. Now retired from competing, until a more competitive opportunity presents itself, I have nothing more to prove.
How many times have you won and why did you decide to stop?
Refer to question 5s answer.
What is your signature style and what makes your styles so special?
The signature of my styling is that the style imitates art.
Natural hair seems quite hip right now. Locs are everywhere, and it looks like the afro is back. Do you think its just a fashion phase? That this will pass just like the afro in the 60s and as soon as the fashion is over we will all go back and straighten our hair again or do we really begin to embrace our natural hair?
I believe that locks were the first hairstyle as in the reference to biblical days i.e. Delilah cut Sampsons locks. I will assume that before she cut them she was styling them. (laughs heartily) and in the new millennium the more people become conscious as far as health, body, and spirit, then will in hand become more conscious of wearing their natural hair. Also, theyll be open to a natural state of mind.
Did you ever relax your hair? If yes, what made you decide to stop? If no, why not?
Yes, I did. (laughs jokingly) Yes, I texturized my hair to make it short and curly, but I quickly got over the Al B. Sure Syndrome.
What do you think about relaxers?
One, the lie in no lye relaxers.
Two, I try not to think about relaxers because Im in the business of promoting healthy hair. You will notice when one speaks about relaxed or chemically treated hair they will always say healthy looking hair as opposed to hair that is healthy.
How long have you been locked? Did you ever cut them and how do you take care of them?
I have been locking for over ten years. Yes, Ive cut them on occasion. and on different occasions Ive sewn them back on. There is a superstar loc stylist in Brooklyn who takes care of my hair and keeps it styled to perfection. Yes, there is a woman behind the man.
I know the service industry is quite demanding. There are some nasty customers out there. So can you give us a few behavior tips and describe your ideal customer?
I dont deal with nasty customers. For some reason, I dont attract that energy. but the ideal customer is one who respects my professional opinion and allows my spirit to coexist with the artistry.
Do you have a loc secret you can share with us? Like what is the best kept loc secret we all should know?
I choose not to share.
If you could give any celebrities a hair makeover, who would it be, why and how would you style that person?
It used to be Busta Rhymes because the focus of his of his artistic expression focused around his hair. and I always that an artist that was so innovative and creative that when it came to his hair he was always up/predictable where there the hair styling could have been more enhanced i.e. color, wire, glitter, etc. but now I desire to service Fred Hammond, Layla Hathaway, and every NBA player with locks. Now, after 10 years of service, I view every client as a celebrity.
You have quite a career going for you. Where do you go from here? What is next for Kafele?
A new t-shirt line, possibility of a product line, and my first hair show.
And your motto is?
Take responsibility for your reality.