Thursday 24th August, 2006


Local hairstylist encourages women to be just dread

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Shelly-Ann Fox does the palm tree hairstyle on client Anisha Forde.

Before: Leeana Charles prepares to give one of her male clients the tattoo back.

After: The finished product of the tattoo back

Cindy Brookes gives a male client one of her famous styles, the two cornrow.

Hairstylist Melona Massey starts the cascado hairstyle on a male client.

Standing from left to right, Malona Massey, Cindy Brookes, Shelly-Ann Fox, Shelley Charles and sitting owner Leeana Charles. Photos: Wendy-Ann Duncan


Leeana Charles is more than just an astute businesswoman who saw the opportunity to explore a growing trend—she wants to do her part in helping African women to wake up.

As the growing trend of dreadlocks and natural hair becomes more and more popular among black women, Charles is determined to take her profession to another level.

“A lot of women and men are now adopting the natural look.

“People are getting more and more into their culture and knowing fully well that chemically processed hair is not for us,” she said in a telephone interview on August 15.

For the past two and a half years, Charles said her business has been booming.

“My clientele has grown by leaps and bounds, I guess because I have brought something new into the art of dreadlocks,” she said in a telephone interview on August 14.

Charles, 30 who owns Lee’s Fortress, located at the corner of Green and Woodford Street, Arima, said for the past 12 years she has been in the business of styling and grooming of natural hair.

The mother of three, who resides in Arima, sports rich black shoulder-length dreadlocks which she has been cultivating for the past two and half years.

“I can transform any hair type, and texture into locks which grow out from the scalp.”

Her techniques said Charles, differ from what other hairstylists were accustomed to.

“I stay away from using the needles on clients hair,” she said.

“ I palm-roll the locks from the roots. I do not use needles because they tend to weaken the hair.”

Charles has a supportive staff of four workers, including her sister, Shelley Charles, Shelly Ann Fox, Melona Massy and Cindy Brookes, all of whom sport dreadlocked hairstyles.

Fox, 26, of La Horquetta who came on board with Charles from the inception of the business, said since she has been employed in the salon she has seen an improvement in her work.

“I thank Leeana for seeing my dedication and giving me the opportunity to take my passion to a higher level,” she said in a telephone interview on August 16.

Fox who worked along with Charles six months prior to her opening Lee’s Fortress, specialises in lock maintainence, natural hair, which includes twists, braiding and colouring.

“I realised that I had a love for grooming natural hair back in 1999 and then in 2001 I decided to get involved in dreadlocks.

“I see myself going very, very far, trust me,” she said, in a burst of laughter.

Fox now hopes that one day the entire staff would take their talents to an international level.

“We want to show our talents and skills to the world one day,” she said.

Charles said that her styles varied.

“I create and name all my styles on the spot,” she said.

Some of her most popular styles are Coil, X-up, Tattoo Back, Infamous, Two Cornrow and Palmtree.

She added that there were secrets to her styles which she holds very close to her heart.

“There are just some things that you cannot let out,” said Charles.

“It is what sets me apart from other hairdressers.”

She said that she does hairstyles for all occasions.

“Whether it is for work, a wedding or a formal occasion, you can be sure that each time you would not look the same,” she said.

Among Charles’ clientele, some who journey from as far away as Mayaro, Toco and South every three weeks to get their hair done, are soca lovebirds Bunji Garlin and Faye-Ann Lyons.

Charles boasts, “I can twist any type and texture of hair. You can come with relaxed hair and leave with a dread.”

She added in an effort to maintain healthy rich hair one must continually use conditioning steams and oil their scalp.

“It is always important to oil and steam your hair occasionly.

“It helps in keeping it rich and strong,” Charles concluded.




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