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Knotty Boy review in Vancouver Courier

The Westender {June 19-25 2003}

by Gelareh Darabi

There are three social myths about dreadlocks that Adrianna Hepper would like to dispel: "Just because someone has dreadlocks doesn't mean he's dirty, has lice or is an unmotivated pot-smoker."

The 26-year-old founder of Knotty Boy dreadlock products insists that regularly washing those thick, felt-like locks is in fact encouraged to keep the dreads nice, tight and in place.

"It's not a dirty, stinky hair-style: in fact, letting the natural oils in your hair build up softens the dreads and ultimately loosens them up," she says. "You still need to take showers when you have dreads!"

Hepper never originally get out to become the "Debbie Travis of Dreadlocks," but while living in Saltspring Island discovered the formula to a cleaner and more stylish dreadlock do.

"My boyfriend at the time was looking for an easier and better-looking way to have dreadlocks other than the old way of letting the hair grow, not washing it and letting it mat naturally," she says. "We looked all over for a product that would make the process a lot easier, but there was nothing available."

She was cooking up her own body products at the time, so Hepper started experimenting with beeswax, hempseed oil and almond oil. The results were a simple formula, that with only a few minor alterations, now makes up the increasingly popular Knotty Boy dreadlock hair wax.

Although steeped in Rastafarian tradition, dreads have twisted their way into the mainstream, on fashion runways, print ads and the heads of celebrities of all stripes. A recent SkyTrain ad features a female cyclist in dreads, and you know it's hip when TransLink has caught on. But what about the older generations who still associate dreadlocks with a negative or shady lifestyle?

"People say you can trace dreadlocks to biblical times. Dreads were worn by holy people that chose not to care about outward expressions," said Hepper. "For some it's an expression of spirituality and heritage." No proof Jesus sported the knots but you can almost see him in it, can't you?

Although Hepper is currently working on a an emergency dreadlock kit (just in case you have to take them out for a job interview), as it is now, dreadlocks are a permanent hairdo that can only be cut out. Those with only a mild curiosity might want to consider dreadlock extensions.

"Dreadlocks are a unique look; they have to fit in with your lifestyle. We often ask kids coming in to get dreads to think about whether they're going to get kicked out of school or whether their parents are going to kill them before they get them done," said Hepper.

For those interested in dreadlocks on demand (real dreadlocks take years of steering clear of scissors), there are less permanent dreadlock extensions. Knotty Boy's Don't Worry Be Knappy service caters to all sorts of dreadlock needs, including extensions and maintenance. Hair dreaded from scratch takes between four to six hours and will cost around $360, which includes a jar of Knotty Boy dread wax and a Knotty Boy specialty teatree and rosemary shampoo bar.

All types of hair - not only Afro-American or kinky hair - can hold the dreadlock look. Hairstylist Wendy Chamberlain has been working the look for her clients for a number of years and can answer all questions or dread most styles out there. Also part of the service: a variety of accessories such as toques, bandannas and rasta hats and nets specially designed for dread heads and beads and ornaments that can be tied into dreads. Do-it-yourselfers will find detailed directions on the Knotty Boy website, which features a guide through the process.

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