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Dr. Kari Williams, The Woman Who Has The Natural Hair Community On Lock

Posted on 26 July 2017

If you’ve been blessed with a praying grandmother there's a chance you’ve heard the phrase “growing hands.” The belief that some hair stylists are just simply blessed with a God given gift has persisted for generations.  In recent years that gift has been joined by education, passion, and experience as the must have keys to success in a stylist’s arsenal. One of the most respected educators to ever dispense these valued tools is Dr. Kari Williams. The renowned celebrity stylist, Board Certified Trichologist , licensed barber, and entrepreneur has brought her belief in abundance to her life’s work sharing her knowledge, compassion, and commitment with other stylists. We chatted with her about professional ethics, personal discretion, and the importance of checking your sources.

In addition to being a stylist you are a licensed barber why was it important to you to diversify your skill set?

I didn’t want to limit myself to just styling women and most importantly at that time being a creative I wanted to be able to offer women hair cutting options as well. When I chose to get my license in barbering it was because I was in college and the majority of my clients at that time were male athletes. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to serve a male clientele and be an all-in-one service option for men. At that time they could get their locs or their hair done and I could also line and shape them. Knowing that my focus would be on natural hair when I became a professional, I wanted to be able to offer additional services outside of chemical and hair straightening services and really work to refine those skills.

You’ve studied the connection between self-esteem and hair health, what kind of effect do you think the natural hair movement has had on women of color?

Oh I think it's had a profound effect on women of color collectively.  I think it's become a movement in which black women are beginning to accept and choose natural hair styles as an option. I think that because of a lot of the stereotypes around natural hair, for black women specifically, throughout history we didn’t always see it as an option-- an option in professional settings, an option in formal settings, an option when we want to feel sexy and beautiful. And now, it’s an option and it’s a wonderful option because it’s who we are naturally. It makes a lot of women feel good it gives them a lot of freedom and allows them to embrace who they are without judgement.

Eve was spotted on the red carpet with her husband wearing braids that waterfalled over the side of her face. More and more we’re seeing celebrities decide to wear natural styles instead of getting their hair straightened for formal events. Is that something that you’re noticing a lot of?

Oh yes, definitely! And I can definitely say that I’m proud to be one of those stylists that have been able to serve women in the entertainment industry and provide beautiful natural looks for them that they can wear to those type of formal red carpet events. And talking to some of my celebrity clientele they’re enjoying the freedom and the lack of pressure. You know again because of the negative stereotypes around natural hair there was a lot of pressure, especially during the summer months. They would have to straighten their hair. That was their go-to. They would have to come out of their braids, come out of their natural styles to prepare for these red carpet events. Now that we’re embracing it, we’re accepting ourselves, we’re embracing it in a way where we don’t really care what the masses say. Because we’re accepting ourselves we’re forcing other people and other ethnic groups to embrace and accept us as well.

We recently published a post about what clients should consider when seeking a new salon. What do you think they should be looking for?

I definitely promote professionalism and consistency. I tell that to my clients because often times I work with clients who maybe aren’t native to LA. They'll come in for a consultation and then travel back home. I think that communication and genuine care from your stylist is a key factor especially for women who are wearing their hair natural. You want a stylist who is willing to listen to you, who is going to go on a journey with you, and who can also take into consideration what your hair goals are, what your concerns are, and be willing to work with you by inserting their professional opinion and being able to guide you in the direction that will help you meet those goals. I would say also {seek} stylists that are open and transparent. That’s really big. I think in this particular day and age clients have access to information in a way that they didn't in the past and so consulting with a stylist who is knowledgeable and who is open to your needs is really important. I would advise any reader of your blog to look for stylists who are passionate, who are skilled, who are patient and who will listen to them.

 

Do you think clients need to be careful of misinformation?

There's definitely a lot of misinformation out there. Being a licensed professional I encourage other consumers to seek out licensed professionals, the licensed professionals who are really passionate about their crafts. Although in most schools and in most states natural hair doesn’t require a license those stylists that are passionate about being able to offer services to their clientele will seek out those professional classes. They’ll want to gain the knowledge, if they don't already have it, to assist women who want to wear their hair naturally. I would definitely caution consumers and readers to check the source because there's so many platforms where women who are not professionals can just share their experiences. I think those type of platforms are helpful. But you just have to be careful to know that the individual who's sharing the information does not have a professional’s level of knowledge or expertise about hair care. They’re sharing their own personal journey and adopting certain hair care regimes and practices can actually be detrimental to your hair health.

You’ve been sharing information about the Goddess Loc Method we’ve being seeing everywhere! What made you want to a) perfect that method and b) share it with other stylists?

Well I’ll say that in creating the look itself, the reason why Meagan good is integral as part of the Goddess Locs journey is because as faux locs began to gain more popularity when i spoke with megan she wanted to have faux locs but she wanted her locs to look like Lisa Bonet’s. At the time I couldn’t find any information or tutorial on how to recreate that particular look. Once I was able to create the look, we, I should say she--Megan, got such great feedback from the public on the look. I feel that as a professional and as an artist, most importantly as an educator, sharing with other stylists is important. I believe in sharing. I believe in abundance. I believe that there's enough for everyone. I’m only one person and the more inquiries I got from people literally around the world I realized the more important it was to share this gift, the gift that was given to me by God. I wanted to help many other women create the look and celebrate the loc lifestyle even if it's temporarily. I felt it was honestly apart of my duty to share that information. I’m all about uplifting the community. I’m all about progression and I’m all about building a platform that can help other women in this industry be successful and/or create lives for themselves.

You're uplifting a lot of children and parents with the Mahogany Babies program. What inspired you to create it?

I have a passion for children. I serve a lot of kids in the salon and so I wanted to be able to teach parents. Because parents would express how difficult it was to find salons that would help them style their children's hair all the time. Most parents honestly want to style their own children's hair at home but I run into a lot of parents who do not know how to maintain their children's hair because they either wore relaxers their whole lives or are adoptive parents. I work with a lot of adoptive parents who are adopting black children or children who have curlier hair types. So I felt that it was important knowing that most of the trauma to women’s hair, especially black women, starts at such an early age. I felt if i could educate the parents of these children we could prevent the amount of hair loss that we see in hair lines and the amount of thinning that we see in young women because of unhealthy haircare practices. I wanted to be an instrument in that way as well.

Lavender isn’t something you see in many natural hair products what prompted you to incorporate it into the Ann Carol line?

For one lavender just smells heavenly.

It sure does!

So that and knowing that a lot of people are just stressed. I’m a Trichologist and I consult with a lot of women. More times than not on the consultation form women mark how stressed they are.  The level of stress varies from person to person but with lavender having the aromatic properties of relieving stress, and calming the nerves I thought it was important to include it.  Another characteristic of lavender that people don’t know is that it also helps to support hair growth. Again a lot of the women I consult with through my trichology clinic often complain about hair loss or hair thinning so I just really wanted to make sure that I infused ingredients into my products that would address the concerns of the majority of the women that I’ve consulted with over the years. I knew that lavender would not only provide a great natural scent, it would be helpful.


You’ve worked with many notable people over the years including Meagan Good and Nia long. What advice would you offer to aspiring celebrity stylists?  

The thing that I always tell aspiring stylists who want to work with celebrity clientele is you have to be consistent and you have to be professional. When I came into the industry I wasn’t focused on getting celebrity clients but it happened because of my consistency and the level of service and value that I provided to my clients. The hair industry is one of those few industries where how often you work is based on who you are and word of mouth. We’re still a very big word of mouth type business. So I caution stylists to be mindful that what people say about you and who knows you will determine what type of clients you serve. A lot of celebrity clients are very private because they’re public figures and as a hairstylist you’re typically with those clients for an extended period of time in their private space. If you’re able to demonstrate a high level of professionalism and consistency then your reputation will take you further than you could imagine.  

Dr. Kari Williams is currently in the process of building an online educational platform for professional stylists who are interested in receiving official training and guidance on the Goddess Loc method and online certification program for trichology.  She will also be launching a tour next year featuring hands-on workshops.

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