Meet Emalia (aka “Braided”), the creator of the Knot Free Crochet Weave technique. Based in Northern Maryland, this stylist has 26 years of experience braiding hair and innovating various braiding techniques. As a self-taught braider, Emalia began by doing her own hair, and quickly realized her gift for braiding. With more and more practice, she began to utilize her skills in different ways and discovered new techniques to create a more natural, seamless look. Now, she works to educate others about her Knot Free Crochet Weave technique, and has her own blog where she shares tips on maintaining and caring for crochet braids.
Read on for more of her story:
What made you decide to become a hairstylist?
I am severely tender-headed so I only started doing my own hair out of desperation. I was convinced I was going to be bald. With every hairstyle, my fine 4a hair was thinning out so I begged my mom to let me learn to do my own hair. At the time (in 1993) this was unheard of, but my mom was equally concerned, and allowed it under supervision. I got good at doing my own hair so quickly, in part because I was afraid my mom wouldn’t allow me to continue. I was convinced it was my destiny to become a stylist.
How did you come up with your crochet braiding techniques?
[In] 1998, my mom bought me my first three packs of pre-braided crochet hair. We had no idea how to install it so we sewed it in on, [one] by one. We later learned about the latch hook, but we had no money to buy [it], so I used the yarn needle from my mom’s craft kit.
I continued to wear pre-braided hair for years, [and] then started experimenting with bulk hair. The biggest challenge I had with the bulk hair was the shedding and visible knots (my crochet braid headband illusion has no visible knots). Pre-braided hair never sheds, so the bulk hair shedding was a huge turn off. I continued to experiment with bulk hair off and on for almost a year until I developed the knotless technique, and later modified the technique and called it: the Knot Free Crochet Weave.
How did the “Knot Free Crochet Weave” come about?
My mom thought it was an underutilization of my abilities because I was an innovative thinker. In 2011, I decided to take a chance and released my “Knot Free Crochet” technique on Youtube. Initially, it wasn’t well received because crochet wasn’t as popular as it is now. 3 years later, the technique has transformed the protective style industry, and I’m eternally grateful for that.
What is a “Knot Free Crochet Weave”?
The Knot Free Crochet Weave technique is an advanced crochet-based technique that allows bulk hair extensions to be install using a latch hook needle without the visible knots [that] crochet-based techniques are known to have.
What makes it different from a regular weave?
With a traditional weave, a third party item (i.e. thread, glue, clips, and bead) is used to secure the hair extension. Based on my experience, the third party tools weaken the hair strands over time and can cause uneven hair growth. With the crochet weave there is no third party tool — the latch hook tool is removed after each section of bulk hair is installed, leaving you with only cornrows and bulk hair.
Where do you get inspiration for your techniques from?
My techniques evolve from my own needs. I’ve created over 20 techniques; I guess I’m pretty needy. The Knot Free technique with a side part was created to mimic the invisible part sew-in weave using the crochet technique. The Crochet Cocoon Cornrows were created as a tension free alternative to Inverted Braids.
What’s your favorite Outre product to work with and why?
I love the Outre BATIK collection, both the weaves and bulk hair. I love versatile, low maintenance hair. Although most synthetic hair on the market is marketed as similar, I usually get a longer, tangle free wear out of the Outre hair. I just started experimenting with clip in hair extensions and the Outre wefts are really thin and flat so that is a huge plus. 🙂
Do you have any tips for maintaining a crochet weave?
Every bulk hair wears differently, so it is difficult to create a list. There are a few must-haves though: (1) a variety of install tools, (2) a satin scarf or satin pillowcase, (3) a good weave or wig spray, and (4) never forget to take care of your hair under the crochet install. If you’re new to doing your own hair with crochet-based techniques, be patient. Mastery isn’t always attained overnight.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I will be hosting my first hands-on training event in 26 September 2015, so in 10 years, I would love to grow it into a revered tradeshow and a platform that helps to launch the ideas and techniques of other innovative people [to those] who may not have the know-how.
Check out her videos about the Knot Free Crochet Weave on her YouTube channel here, and stay connected with her on Facebook for updates about her upcoming hands-on training event, style inspiration, & so much more.