As more black people around the world begin to embrace their natural curls, many are opting to loc their hair for more of a trendy, fashionable look, stepping away from the traditional Rastafarian connotations that type of hair has been associated with for generations.
But have you ever heard of Loc Therapy?
Shadell ‘Simplicity’ Claxton of Bath Village Nevis is an entrepreneur and a loctician who refers to herself as a Loc Therapist. With a professional background in Sociology, Shadell who now resides in Las Vegas owns a loc hair salon that combines styling locs with therapy.
“The more I did hair and interacted with people, the more I saw how my degree in sociology was being used. God takes us through things for us to relate to other people to let them know they can get through the same thing and survive,” she told Loop News.
“Everybody who sits in my chair is Godsent; people actually cry. So, it’s like I am doing their hair and they are having therapy at the same time,” Shadell explained. “Because of my background in sociology, my calling is in therapy and locs is just the avenue; it’s like locs ministry.”
She said in having conversations with her customers, she is assisting in a holistic way as they are able to express themselves, and receive advice, while also getting their hair done.
“I call it loc therapy because people don’t just come to me because of their hair. It starts out because of their hair but they don’t come to because of that.”
“When people sit in my chair and I tell them certain things, based on their responses, I have to dig through layers to find out why they would feel this way. People come back to me and tell me how our conversations have helped them.”
Shadell has been growing her locs for 12 years and has been a lover of locs for as long as she can remember.
“All my life I’ve wanted locs. I can’t think of a time when I wanted anything else done to my hair other than having locs. I’m thirty years old and back then, locs were not very acceptable for island people. Back home it is highly associated with Rastafarianism so if you get locs, all of a sudden you’re doing devil work and everything under the sun.”
She experienced those issues with her own family living on Nevis until the age of 16, before moving to the United States where she finished her last year in high school before moving on to tertiary education.
“It was a problem in my household and it went from ‘not in my house’ to ‘not while I am supporting you financially’. I was 19 when I got my locs, because that’s when my mother stopped supporting me. As soon as she stopped supporting me, I got my locs. I went through a lot when it comes to my hair. I have family members who don’t speak to me because I have locs. It took my mother a long time to be accepting of my hair.”
Being a spiritual person, Shadell believes that the difficulties she has experienced throughout her life have prepared her for the success she is achieving in her career.
“As island people we are very careful about people being in our hair, so I have been doing my own hair for the longest and while being here in Vegas, sometimes I would want someone else to do it so when I moved here, I was trying to find my new person. I ended up doing my hair and even with the simple things I would do with my hair, the reaction people would give… ‘Oh my God I love your hair!’ and one day somebody said it and it hit me that God wanted me to do hair.”
And so, she began her business at home in July 2020, while working as a manager in corporate America.
“Having to put myself out there, I had to work on my confidence because it’s not easy, it is really not easy. One thing that helped me honestly, was keeping in the back of my mind that I was dealing with island people; keeping in the back of my mind that I was dealing with my mother because my mother has very high expectations.”
The notion of locs symbolising a direct link to Rastafarianism is slowly being dismantled as these days more people are growing locs in what has become a trend.
For Shadell, locs is more than just a hairstyle, it is, essentially a lifestyle. While she agrees that having locs is becoming a trend, she is also of the opinion that locs should be seen beyond that because locs is essentially a way of life.
“I’m not against it being a trend because that’s the way the world works, but when things become a trend, we forget the foundation of it. I say it is a lifestyle because people always look at somebody else and say I want my locs to look like hers, I want that style, I want my hair like this. But you have to understand that for your hair to look and feel how u want it to, it’s highly dependent on your lifestyle. What do you eat? What’s your lifestyle like? Do you drink water? What’s your location? All of that affects your hair… everything goes back to self.”
Sharing her knowledge of locs, she said hair changes so much over time and healthy growth depends on how the hair is treated from the start.
“When I tell people I have never had a perm in my life, they say that’s unheard of. Locs forces you to look at self; we have to take accountability for self.”
“Locs is not for play. Anytime something is off with your hair, it is because something is going on, on the inside and it’s an indication that we have to pay attention to … that’s why I said it’s a lifestyle.”
Simplicity’s Touch by Shadell Claxton officially opened in May 2021 in Las Vegas.
“It’s honestly God, because If you had told me a year ago I would be here, I would not have believed it. This has to be a gift because I cannot explain it.”
In explaining the name chosen for her business she said “I called myself Simplicity since third form, based on the song ‘Simplicity’ by Sizzla. In coming up with a name, I am big on self-love so I always say I would want to help other people do the same thing. So, it’s just Simplicity giving you a touch, because you are already beautiful,” she smiled. “You are already made how you are to be made. I am just helping you to recognise that. I am activating your natural beauty I’m not adding anything, I’m just giving you the simplest touch.”
At Simplicity’s touch, anything loc related is offered, except interlocking services which Shadell has frowned up as being dangerous for the hair and scalp.
Shadell is currently pursuing a Masters in Medical Cannabis and Therapeutics at the University of Maryland.
“People come to because of my honesty. The most authentic gift you can give someone is yourself and hair tells you everything that’s going on with your body so my therapy starts when I look at people’s hair.”