Shaftesbury boasts an impressive range of businesses for a rural community with under 8,000 residents. Now our town can add a ‘loctician’ the range of services. Alfred met the marketing expert who is swapping her computer keyboard for a crochet needle as she offers a little-known professional skill.
“There is a specific term to describe a dreadlock maker and maintainer – a loctician. That’s what I would call myself,” explained Gold Hill resident Aimee De Rosa. It’s quite a change for a woman who has developed a career in marketing, copywriting, branding and graphic design. Aimee has applied many of those promotional skills she will continue to offer her clients on a part-time basis to her own new business. Her enterprise’s clever name, Dread It, and its striking yellow logo are borne of her business and graphic design background.
Aimee’s boyfriend at the time, Jack, inspired her to switch from working with her head to working with her hands on a road trip to Bulgaria. He was dissatisfied with his usual dreadlock-maker. “There are different styles and specifics about how you can part it. Everybody likes their own way,” explained Aimee, who added that the pair were travelling to see Jack’s father in a remote part of the country.
“Jack suggested that, as we didn’t have much to do in the mountains where his dad lived, that I should buy a crochet hook and try and do his dreadlocks. I spent four days unpicking every bit of hair and I re-did it. I had a natural talent for it, and he suggested it could be something I could do.”
Her next step was to offer to take on styling and maintaining friends’ dreadlocks. Her work was well received, and Aimee realised that locals with dreadlocks had to travel to have their hair maintained or to have dreadlocks created ‘from scratch’. What was initially a hobby quickly morphed into part-time employment.
“There are established locticians in Poole, Glastonbury and in Bristol. Shaftesbury is in the middle of those key areas so I realised there was a niche in the market, and I could develop something here. I do travel into other counties, which makes it exciting because I get to see new places too,” said Aimee.
Obviously, you will need a certain length of hair if you want to have dreadlocks. “Ideally it would be shoulder length at least,” said Aimee. “If you have shorter hair, because you are tightening up, it gets shorter and shorter and you end up with spiky dreadlocks. That’s why it is better to have at least shoulder length or there is not much to work with.” Her dreadlock-making tool is a 0.75mm crochet hook. “It’s really tiny. I backcomb the hair, rub the hair and crochet it so it tightens up,” she explained.
Dreadlocks take much longer to perfect than a regular haircut. “A full set of dreads would take between six and ten hours. It depends how long the hair is,” said Aimee. And then dreadlocks require ongoing care and attention. “It depends how neat people like them. People might have maintenance every couple of months. Some people want to develop their dreadlocks over years. They tend to look after themselves a bit and matt up even more. From the clients I have had so far, they say every six months to a year is a good amount of time.”
Aimee says she develops a rapport with her clients because she spends much longer with them than a regular barber or hairdresser would, when maintaining their dreads. She can spend up to four hours with her regulars. “I have some fascinating conversations while I am building up those relationships,” she said.
Anyone considering adopting this hairstyle is advised against washing dreadlocks with regular shampoo because they have conditioners. “You can buy dreadlock shampoo which naturally helps to matt up your hair, so it doesn’t have any conditioning. Or you could not wash them at all. Hair has natural oils. Dreadlocks tend to look after themselves and clean themselves. Some people do not wash their hair for months, but it still looks healthy and clean,” said Aimee.
But she accepts that, if you go to a function like a bonfire or a barbecue, someone’s hair might take on the smell of the surroundings. “I’d recommend having a dreadlocks shampoo on standby for those sorts of events. You don’t want to have the smell lingering.”
Dreadlocks are not necessarily suitable for people of all professions and careers. Aimee says that her clients generally come from mainly creative fields. “People into their art and music. Also, I have free-spirited, loving and open people. It’s been good to build a rapport with people like that,” she said.
And she has already attracted a diverse age range of customers. “My oldest client is around sixty, and my youngest has just turned eighteen. I did recently have a meeting with a mother and son. He was eleven. He wanted to have dreadlocks but wanted to have a discussion beforehand to see whether he was ‘up for it’ and he is currently considering it.” And of course, older men who have lost their hair or have thinning hair would find it difficult to achieve dreads.
Surprisingly, Aimee isn’t an advert for her own skills. She doesn’t sport dreadlocks herself. “A few of my customers have said they like the fact that I don’t, because most locticians do have dreadlocks. I just don’t know whether they’d suit me,” she smiled.
Aimee would love to spend more time in her new field. “It could potentially be my full-time job,” she said, excitedly. “There are quite a lot of people involved in the festival scene who have stalls to promote their dreadlock making. They sell beads and accessories. You can be super-active in the festival scene in the summer. In the winter, you could just build up your clientele. I have such a passion for it. I am such a people person. I really thrive off that.”
You can contact her via Instagram and on Facebook. Just search for DreadItDorset.