Former hairdresser makes dreadlocks from sheep’s wool
SUN RIVER, Mont. (AP) — The vision of rural life that Jennifer Skinner had in California met cold reality on her move to Montana.
Animals raised for milking need milked twice EVERY DAY. I mean, come on.
But, Skinner didn’t want to admit to having made a horrible mistake with her ranchette, now home to chickens, pet goats and sheep.
The former hairdresser didn’t want to step back into a salon either.
So she made lemonade from her lemons, or, in Skinner’s case, dreadlocks from her sheep’s wool.
She knew there was a worldwide market for dreadlocks, but none looked natural. She realized her sheep’s wool, when felted and dyed, could fill that niche.
“Some people were super resistant, and some said, ‘Where have you been all my life?’” she said.
Now some knock-offs of her dreadlocks are on the market, and she added an income stream with lessons on how to make her product, with students coming from multiple countries.
The wool she uses is along the lines of baby hair. It looks natural but feels softer.
The wool has natural curl and waviness. She uses a pound of wool for each set. It’s felted and dyed a rainbow of funky hues.
Her ewe is East Friesian and her ram Icelandic, and their offspring produce great wool, too. She uses wool from Eureka, too.
Skinner has experience growing dreadlocks in her hair, but she likes to wear these wool ones better.
“You can change them as much as you want ...,” she said, before adding that they are anti-microbial. “They don’t harbor bacteria. They clean well.”
Women buy from her because they’ve always wanted to sport dreadlocks, she said, or they’re collectors. Buyers come from several ethnicities, but most are white women. They like the full, boho-style hair, the length and the distinctiveness of the dreadlocks.
As she demonstrated how the wool locks work, Skinner pulled a hank of hair and braided it with the dreadlock in a blanket braid, though in her own hair she used a simple twist. A rubber band secured the braid.
The dreadlocks are washed with shampoo in the shower just like regular hair. They last forever, Skinner said.
“They can look professional,” she said. “They’re tidy; they’re styled.
“I’m most proud of the ones that look super natural,” she told the Great Falls Tribune . “If you are achieving a believable hair color with wool dye, you are really nailing it”
Her dreadlocks sell for $180 on the low end and more typically $200-$300. She’s happy to customize to match the wearer’s hair color, personality, desired length and other factors.
“Some people are really picky and custom is best for them. I ’m happy to make whatever someone wants,” she said. “I like to ask a lot of questions. I want something they are going to wear.”
She has a Facebook group, Jennifer Skinner Dreads xoxo! , that’s a platform for connecting with customers around the world. Most of her dreadlocks are sold out of state, to Europe and to Australia.
For the last weekend of the month (though not this month), she does posts of what will be for sale to build hype for the offerings. People looking for dreadlocks then try to outdo each other to type “sold” first when their favorites come up for sale, like a contest to claim it first.
Most pieces are gone by 1 p.m. Within 24 hours, they’re all gone.
Her exuberant personality is well-suited to live videos on the website.
“I did hair forever so it’s like a hairdresser personality,” she said. “They get excited. I’m excitable for people online.”
Skinner’s dreads also are on Instagram at instagram.com/rocknrollfarm.
Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com