Braids: The Way to Freedom

Photos Camilo Alzate González / Rodrigo Grajéales via Altair Magazine

I want to share this incredible braid story and important piece of history, passed to me from my dear friend Sarah Rotterman.

San Basilio de Palenque is the first village freed from slavery in the Americas.  Deep in the jungle it’s located in Bolivar, a northern department in the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

The way to freedom for these slaves was woven in a very particular manner: On their hair, through braids.

The braids were a way of communication between women. As they were not so monitored, they could sneak along the paths and spy on their masters. They could see the landscape, rivers, mountains and the stationed troops of the Spanish army. They wove in their hair what they saw and created maps illustrating the traveled paths.Photo Jose Alberto Mojico

In this way the slaves, led by Benkos Biohó, planned the escape, armed with what would be a compass of hair.

In their tangled hair, women also hid small pieces of gold and seeds that they could later grow in their free villages. This way they guaranteed future food security for the community.

The braids had two points: the starting one that indicated the way out and the other one was the escape route.

Photos Camilo Alzate González / Rodrigo Grajéales via Altair Magazine

They’ve been giving names to the hairstyles ever since, some of them are:

“Separate braids” that symbolize the freedom, those that are separated from each other.

“Balay” or “The Edge” is the braid that was used to twist the edges of the baskets for cleaning rice, corn and other grains.

“Puerca Paria” or “Farrow Sow” – The meaning is fertility,  both on the ground and in the belly of a woman.

Photos Camilo Alzate González / Rodrigo Grajéales via Altair Magazine

“The Mesh” indicated that an escape was already planned.

“The hearts” was the sign of respect and love of the woman to her beloved who was absent and the comb was a song of waiting for his return.

The braids for the Palenqueras have been a symbol of resistance, union, freedom and reaffirmation of their origin.

Photo Cristina de la Concha. IG @cristinadelaconcha

Deepest thank you to Sarah Rotterman who compiled and translated this story :


Free Your Hair.

xo, HTHG




Radical Love and Braids.

I firmly believe that love is the most radical act there is. As I braided these 3 friends hair together, I reflected love and hearts:

We are all weaving this web together. Threads of love are the strongest.

With love we can honor our own experiences and hold space for the experiences of others, moving forward as individuals who are indivisibly linked together by this land and this moment in time.

Planting seeds and tending plants is a radical and simple expression of love. 

Flowers want to be picked because it helps them multiply and spread their seed. This is revolutionary for those of us who are flower pickers and live with guilt and shame over it. Thankful for friends who remind us of these simple truths.

It is time for those who know how to speak to learn listen with open hearts, and those who know how to listen to learn to speak with open hearts.

Happy Valentines Day.

Love, HTHG




Finger Painting Haircolor: Rainbow Locs

Hey babes. The next 3 weeks will feature a different finger-painted hair creation every week. This came about because I wanted to challenge myself by letting myself do what I always want to do but has felt like breaking the rules…….Losing the tools that sometimes feel like they disrupt the flow between hands and hair and the process/creation of art. So I went all in with my hands.

Meet TT. She is a fellow hair artist, who specializes in Dread Coloring and Curl Cutting at Vain in Seattle. Please read up on her and her hair here.…..

She came to see me, having been feeling in a rut with her own natural locs…….They have been growing for 2 years and she is stuck between wanting to shave her head and grow her locs out.

Naturally, my remedy for this hair conundrum is to bust out some color and go all out. Stuck in hair, Stuck in life. Also because Winter is a lovely time to brighten up.

She sat in my chair with most of her dreads already dark green from a previous color, some dreads natural, and several in the front were bleached and ready for me to paint on.

Her roots were her natural, sparkly salt-and pepper.

I began by applying a dark blue veggie dye (Manic Panic) to her roots, and pulling through a bit farther into some of the dreads. Then, I refreshed her green roots with a brighter green, and added some yellow to brighten up the ends. I did a few random purple ones just for fun.

I applied the color with my fingers, rolling it into each dread. It was a full on finger-painting hair job.

Once I got to the bleached out dreads in the front, I applied the color in a rainbow to each one, blessing it with the entire spectrum of unified color.

After 20 minutes of processing, we rinsed her hair out in the sink. The colors ran together, making a beautiful rich brown.

The, she let me braid her crown up. We giggled and chatted about our kids and life. Twas a wonderful time.

True hair love sees all color and texture. I would like to manifest some more natural textured woman of all colors in my hair chair. Just putting it out there.


xo, HTHG


Welcome to the Free Your Hair Parlor

Hi Babes! Today I want to give a special thanks to my friends Flor and Zinn at Wired and Stoned for shooting and producing this little video.

They came over and we had a lovely chat about hair and business and creativity and Instagram, among other things! I got to play with Flor’s hair, which was a real dream. I feel like they really captured my little creative space with truth and captivity.

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to speak a bit, although my own voice makes me cringe, on things so close to my heart…… And then get to share it with you all!

Check out Wired and Stoned Youtube for lot’s of great DIY’s for Dreads and the Makings of Adornment.

Enjoy, xo, HTHG/ Roxie Jane Hunt



Charge What You Are Worth: A Pep Talk With Jayne Matthews

img_5017Jayne Matthews/ Shot by Kat Alves

It is brutally easy to look at another person’s life from afar and feel like they have it all. Is there a name for this? Does anyone know? There should be, because I think it is something we all suffer from at one point or another.

The truth, I am finding is that no one has it all. That doesn’t exist. But, what we do all have are unique and awesome ways that we have adapted to kick ass in our own ways, inevitably failing in other ways, as we journey towards something collectively better. And there is a veritable goldmine in sharing these ways with each other, helping to empower the collective through stories of success and anecdotes of failure.

Something I struggle with, and I know I’m not alone here, is feeling confident in my ability to charge appropriately for my work and my skills. This is something I have avoided confronting and dealing with for years, and it has resulted in me undervaluing myself and my offerings and consistently undercharging because I feel guilt around taking money for anything, ever.

This is something I am becoming much more aware and mindful of, and I am starting to really understand the beauty in charging appropriately and then taking pride in well done, well compensated work…….It is a win-win for everyone…….When I charge what I truly feel my services are worth, removing the guilt of taking money, my work is better, I love my job, my clients love and value their experience and services in my chair, my family is happier because I am happier, and it goes on and on, positively impacting all involved.

I could write an entire novel about why we (especially as women) can really struggle hard with charging what our time and energy is worth. But instead, let’s have an interview series with the women who have helped teach me the importance of valuing my own work and charging appropriately……Because, these women and and their savvy advice have really made my life better just by modeling the simple decision to……
Charge What They Are Worth.

img_5016Chri Longstreet and Jayne Matthews, Owners of Edo Salon// Shot by Kat Alves

This first interview features Jayne Matthews, visionary hairstylist and co-owner of Edo Salon in San Francisco. Jayne is an artist and a business woman and a mama, who does the dance of all 3 with grace and open realness. She articulates her experience with learning to Charge What She Is Worth, and why it is important.

What would you tell a friend who is clearly doing good work and undercharging herself?

One of the main things I think as hairstylists is that our business days basically move through the ups and downs of the economy, as cities have gotten more expensive especially where I live in San Francisco…….But also Portland, Seattle,New York, Los Angeles, Denver, you name it.

I feel like it is very important that we take a look around and do what’s considered a market adjustment to make sure that we are paying ourselves what it actually costs to live in the places where we live. Most people get raises every year and bonuses and paid time off. As things get more expensive people get better jobs.

It is so easy as a hairstylist to stay in the comfort zone but our quality of life as we get better and better at what we do goes down because the one piece we’re not so savvy at is making sure that we are moving in the same direction as our cities or towns or communities.

This may seem strange but 20 years can go by in a blink of an eye and you can realize what was once a great career when you were young has made it into forever renting a house and not really acting as a professional who is been working at something for so many years. In any other field, that person will be making so much more money at that point but for some reason in our career somewhere along the line we decided to cheapen ourselves.

I raised my prices this year from $100 a haircut to $150 a haircut. It seems like a huge jump and of course I grandfathered in a few people that I knew really needed it and that I loved working and that fulfilled me to work with.

But in all honesty, in such an expensive area I had found myself having a much further commute from work and actually spending less money on nice dinners and travel and my quality of life as far as financial abundance had gone way down from where it was 10 years ago.

My rent/groceries/clothing/taxes had all gone up but my haircuts had not gone up accordingly. Even at $150 per haircut I’m just barely catching up. By the way, when I did raise my prices I actually got busier and my clients gave me more respect and let me try more interesting things as they thought of me as more of an experienced professional.

What advice would you give to this friend to take action? 

Add up all the expenses that they have and everything they need to live the sort of life they want. Figure out exactly how much they need to make per month, per week, and then per day to make this happen. One day I decided that I needed to make $1000 per day in order to live comfortably in the bay area. That was when I raised my prices so that I could hit that mark and my life changed.

I am not rich, I do not own a house ( yet), but never again will I based my prices on what I think “people will pay.”  I also will not base my prices on what other people are charging because I feel like our entire industry under charges. I’m not even 100% booked all the time but I know that I need $1000 a day to live comfortably in the Bay Area therefore this is what I charge and so far it’s worked very well. Grandfathering in a couple slots today is also great and not being overly booked with clients that don’t inspire me also gives me space to meet new clients that pay my full price and are a better fit anyway.

What happens when we begin to charge what we are worth? Why is this in everyone’s best interest? 

This is really important. When I get a $150 haircut I feel the pride of my work come out and I actually give a better service. I really take the time to look at all the little details that will bring out my clients eyes, or cheekbones, or whatever nice and interesting feature that they have. I work with each petal of hair with care and interest and love. I still only take 45 minutes but I work calmer and am more interested and feel more proud of my work at the end of the day.

The client can feel it as well and usually ends up giving me $180 for my 45 minutes. I have also had clients who just felt it was a bit too expensive for what they were looking for and I totally understand and give them a referral to somebody who would feel fine to charge them less and are in a different place in their lives and their careers. That way I have more space and less exhaustion in my day and everybody is taken care of.

How does fear play into undercharging ?

I think many hairstylist including myself are afraid of people being disappointed or angry with us or kind of rolling their eyes that we want to charge so much money for something may only take us a few minutes to do. It didn’t take me a few minutes to learn how to cut hair really well so even if the hair is baby fine and there is not much of it I am being paid for my years of training and hard work that I put into building this career and I know what I need to make to live where I do and so I don’t feel bad about it anymore.

When I think of it as a market adjustment to where I am living rather than the price for a haircut it totally changed my perspective. It is scary to tell somebody that you’re raising your price because maybe we are afraid we sound greedy but when it is explained as just a simple standard of living adjustment it becomes much easier. I also would advise that everybody raise their prices on the same date every year, so that the first scary conversation doesn’t have to happen again. Also, we all get to look forward to having a raise once a year like the rest of the world!img_5018

Chri and Jayne// Kat Alves

What would be a good mantra for charging what one is worth?

I just tell myself again and again that in order to be happy and live a decent humble life with enough vacation to rejuvenate I need to make a certain amount of money per day therefore I don’t give away little deals and discounts and I don’t make it personal. It’s not personal! Doing a haircut is not a favor. It’s not something just quick that didn’t take years to learn. And it is the way that we support ourselves financially and so having a day rate that I must hit is always my mantra now. This all came from having my daughter but I’m so glad it did.

Talk a little bit about forgetting about the physicality of money exchange and looking at it as energy exchange and how this helps the process of raising rates and valuing our own work more?

The main energy exchange for me is that if I feel well paid and it is clear for the job I do and I take pride in taking my time and clearly and carefully treating each service as an experience that myself and my client are having together. I find the experience to be creative and interesting and I believe they do as well. The money exchange is very simple…… once I have my set price, I feel extremely rewarded and able to breathe and excited while doing my work. If for any reason your work is draining to you there’s a very good possibility it is because the energy exchange is to feeding you and and compensating your creativity

All photos by Kat Alves, Styling by Gold Dust Collective.

Stay tuned for more interviews on the topic of Charging What We Are Worth.

Thanks for being here, and please help us empower the collective by sharing this post with your friends who could stand to make more money, love what they do more, and value their own offerings in a bigger way.

Thanks and big love to Jayne Matthews for sharing her heart and her experience!

xo, HTHG

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