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Reggae Fest Boosts Dreadlocks

  • Written by  montreal gazette
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You hardly ever hear the sound of blow-dryers or scissors in Yvonne Jacobs’s hair salon.

That’s because three-quarters of the patrons at Eve Coiffure in Côte-St-Luc have dreadlocks.

And Yvonne Jacobs — loctician, stylist and owner of Eve Coiffure — is getting a boost in business thanks to the Montreal International Reggae Festival on this weekend. Because while Montreal boasts many hair salons, only a handful specialize in locs.

In the last week, Jacobs has seen a 15- to 25-per-cent increase in clients, with reggae enthusiasts coming to her from all over Canada, the United States and even Jamaica.

People of various races come to her door, with all sorts of hair. Appointments last between two and four hours, depending on style and length, and cost a minimum of $25 an hour.

“It’s really amazing,” said Jacobs, 52. “This reggae fest has opened up another door for me, personally as an entrepreneur in the hair business.”

The festival, which started Friday and ends Sunday in the Old Port, will feature performances by some of reggae’s top names, including Marcia Griffiths, I-Octane, Maxi Priest and Sean Paul.

Jacobs, who was born in Trench Town, Jamaica, has been seeing between five and 10 clients per day. They seek her experience and expertise in dreadlocks, or want to get their hair interlocked — a method of maintaining dreadlocks that Jacobs likens to basket weaving.

“With interlocking, (hair) doesn’t unravel,” she said. “And the other thing, too, is that it lasts longer, and you don’t have to visit the salon as often as if you palm roll or twist the roots.”

On this day, Jacobs, wearing a black apron, her own hair wrapped up in a green scarf, is working on her 18-year-old daughter’s hair. Sherelle Jacobs signed up as a volunteer for the reggae festival, and decided she wanted her locks tightened and styled in an updo.

“I feel good about myself, I feel like this is who I was supposed to be,” said Sharelle, who’s had dreadlocks for 15 years. “This is the hairstyle I was supposed to have.”

She says that in a way, her hair gives her strength. “I feel like I can conquer a lot of stuff,” she said. “I feel like this gives me a lot of self-esteem.”

Jacobs said she’s noticed that more black women are opting for natural hairstyles — including braids, afros and dreadlocks — in recent years.

“Year after year, I find that people are more curious about natural hair.”

Jacobs conducted workshops about natural hair at Concordia University, and would like to spend more time teaching people about dreadlocks.

She says too many black women go to great lengths to imitate the straight hairstyles seen on pop icons such as Beyoncé and Rihanna.

“I would love to see celebrities with locks,” she said. “You don’t see that — the only person that I would say that I see right now with locks is Whoopi Goldberg.”

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