DREADLOCKS have come of age and are typically clean and luscious entities, says hair artist Virginia Webb.
“The evolution of tattoos and piercings as mainstream has opened the door for dreadlocks to be far more accepted,” she says. “I see in the workplace and at school, people are not as shocked by it, which is wonderful – people can be who they want to be without being ostracised.”
A former chef who worked for 20 years in London’s poshest places, Ms Webb rails against the “stinky, hippy” generalisations about dreadlocks: “They drive what I do – I educate people about washing them weekly and having maintenance so they are beautiful, clean and smell delicious.”
Ms Webb opened Black Cockatoo Dreadlocks in Adamstown six months ago after falling into the dreadlocking industry five years ago when injury prompted her to leave hospitality.
“I thought it was fun, I didn’t really think about it as a business,” says Ms Webb, who is finishing a diploma in counselling and has also qualified as a yoga teacher.
She was “dreading” at her home before doing a pop-up at 876 Hunter Street, which quadrupled her business and prompted her to go solo.
Her clients range from kids to 65-year-old women and services include making dreadlocks on people’s heads using their hair and doing dreadlock extensions using real hair, synthentic hair or wool fibre.
Her main work is maintenance, and she does one new head of dreads weekly, which takes six to eight hours. She does ‘wraps’ by putting embroidery floss in hair to add colour and texture, and can weave beads, jewellery and even crystals into hair. Her main technique is crocheting, using hair to stitch around the dreadlock to lock it into place.
People are drawn to dreads for all sorts of reasons.
“A lot of women who get to 50 and 60 and say ‘Ginny I’ve always wanted them’ and they come in all quiet with rounded shoulders and by the time they have dreads they are standing five feet tall and beaming,” she says. “It’s like the hair starts a new vigour within them and they embrace other things and become stronger.”