I was eight years old the first time I walked into a hair salon. It was a busy Saturday morning and my aunt had taken us to “tame” our hair. Sizzling our hair for church with a stovetop-heated stretching comb or thread plaiting for a week of school was par for the course, until it was decided natural hair was too much stress. My sister and I walked in excitedly, our senses bombarded by the smell of chemicals, the steady whirring of the hood dryers, and the bustling conversation. Alluring images of the life-changing power of relaxers surrounded us and I pointed to a photo of Diana Ross, her curly hair flying behind her – I wanted that look. I left the salon with a curly, dripping perm that did anything but fly….or make me look fly.
Fast-forward to adulthood, adding a move from the UK to Rhode Island and nothing much changed. Instead of four-hour flights to London, I was doing round-trips to Boston to relax my hair. The times I had embraced my natural hair, I was left relying on YouTube evangelists to show me the way. Pregnancy in 2020 saw me abandon relaxers completely, and as my natural hair grew, so did my desperation for a hairdresser who could “cut it kinky” without being New York-based. Alas, I fell prey to a local “Edward Scissorhands” who botched my postpartum hair (insert tears). After lamenting the state of Afro hair care in Rhody, someone recommended The LOFT in East Providence and my life was forever changed!
I could ramble on about the serene salon environment set up specifically for my hair, and the stylists who looked the part. But first let’s focus on how the appointment began on time. Stylist Shawnette (with her envy-inducing curls), was ready for me. “What’s your hair goal?” she asked. “To not look like an extra from Trolls,” came my response. Posters of women proudly wearing their different hair textures adorned the walls and I pointed to one. She smiled and with some snips, a treatment, and twists, Edward Scissorhands’ handiwork was history! She equipped me with knowledge and product recommendations, and I literally floated out of that salon.
The LOFT is one of three “Curly Hair Exclusive” salons founded by Connecticut native, Sharita Payton whose vision is “Helping women of all textures to better learn and embrace their God-given hair”. After visiting them in East Providence I can say they succeeded on their mission with me.
The LOFT Hair Studio • 182 Taunton Avenue, East Providence • 401-642-6767
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