#WorkCrushWednesday - Loc Journey to Growth & New Growth
Name: Jayah K.
Industry/Title: Senior Project Manager
Current Location: Fort Worth, TX
College Major: Management with concentration in Leadership and Change, Minor in Theology
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are you interests and passions?
I’m a Texas native, and also a first generation American, as my parents immigrated to the US from Sierra Leone in the early 80’s. In 2008, I signed to attend Georgetown University on a football scholarship where I was a 4 year starter and 2 Time All Patriot League defensive back. After graduating in 2012, I moved back to Texas and have worked at an Artificial Intelligence software company starting as an intern and working in various roles in consulting and marketing. Currently, I lead the company’s software development team and manage production and maintenance of all our companies products. I enjoy giving back to the community by donating my time and resources to local churches and schools, providing scholarships to graduating seniors at my local high school, and helping mentor students. You can also find me attending concerts all of music genres, cheering on my local DFW professional team’s (Go Cowboys!), or enjoying a good workout at the gym.
How and why did you get started on your loc journey?
I was became interested in growing locs during my freshman year as a student athlete at Georgetown. It may sound superficial, but at the time, I started this process because I thought it “looked cool” as a football player to have. I had my last haircut in December 2008, right before Christmas break, and I haven’t looked back since. By the summer of 2009 I had enough hair to begin my starter locs.
What has been the hardest part about growing your locs? What has been the most rewarding?
The hardest part about growing my locs was during the “ugly stages”, during the first few years in college I did most of the maintenance myself and some of my friends would roast me about my hair. My hair was definitely the core of many jokes during my sophomore year. I know it was all fun and games, but at times it did make me reconsider if I wanted to continue. I think the most rewarding aspect of this journey is that I’ve gotten to see both growth in my hair and myself. As my hair has grown and I’ve matured there are many similarities between the growth of my hair and of myself as a person. I’m a more patient person, I better appreciate the importance of growth, and understand that there are processes in life, some that you follow, and some that you create for yourself.
Did you ever have any reservations about your locs and wearing them at work?
When I began the interview process looking for my first professional job I did have reservations about continuing to keep my locs. I had some family and friends that suggested that if I didn’t cut my hair I’d have a difficult time finding a job. I recall a few interviews in which my hair did come up, and fortunately, the ones that did bring it up didn’t offer me a job. Today, I love wearing my locs, it’s become a part of me and something that all my coworkers embrace and appreciate and I’m glad I didn’t have to compromise on my hair to get a job.
Have you ever received any negative or uncomfortable comments about your hair?
I’ve definitely received my fair share of uncomfortable comments regarding my hair, but I think many of them have come from a curious mindset, and not one of trying to embarrass or shun me. These last few years people really embrace my hair and respect the process.
What's your maintenance routine?
Now that I’ve had my locs for almost 9 years, typically I get my hair retwisted once every 2-3 months, but if there is a special event going on I’ll typically get my hair retwisted for that occasion. You know you have to look sharp for weddings, graduations, etc! In between my retwists, I’ll do a “deep wash” at 1-2 times a month. In the beginning your locs require a lot more retwists and washes, but after year 3, the maintenance becomes very easy and manageable.
What are your favorite products?
I’m a big proponent of anything from the company “Jamaican Mango & Lime,” their line of products are great from shampoos, conditioners, oils, and locking gels/waxes. I especially love the smell as well, after every retwist your hair not only looks good but smells good as well!
Do you think that you'll keep your locs throughout the rest of your career? If not, why?
I don’t have any external pressures to get rid of my locs, so I’ll keep them as long as I please or until I want to try something different. I’m pretty happy with the current length of my locs now so at this point I’m looking to maintain what I do have and if one day I do decide to cut it I know that I would have considerably thought about the decision before doing so. My locs are a part of me, but they don’t define me, so while the last 9 years have been great I know I’d be open to different styles of hair if it makes sense for me at that time.
When we talk about the natural hair movement, we often think of women. However, men are also experiencing the movement by feeling less compelled to have low cut hair, embracing their natural texture and locking their hair. What is your male perspective on the movement and how you fit within it?
I love the increased efforts by men to be a part of and embrace their natural hair. When I was growing up, it was all about the “s-curl” or the “waves,” and no one was too interested in growing their hair out, except for the few that had the Allen Iverson straight back braids. Today, it’s great to see men, both young and old rocking afros, braids, locs, etc. I think society in general has conditioned men all of races to have short cropped hair, so as men have gone against this standard, it just proves that people are more than just their hair, you can be just as successful in your career with a fade, afro, locs, etc. I think my professional career is a testament to that and it validates to other that if I can do it, they can too.
If you have any doubts or concerns about starting locs or just embracing your natural hair I encourage you to just jump in and do it. You’ll never know until you try. Also, I suggest that when you do start that you document your success, I have an album on Facebook that’s called “da journey” and it’s great to keep a track of how you started, the during phases that you go through and where you stand today. When you get a chance to reflect back it makes you appreciate the process even more.