The Conscious Barber : Derrick Banks, Owner of Freshly Faded

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1.Tell us about yourself. What’s your name? Where were you raised? Where do you currently reside? 

My name is Derrick Banks I’m 30 years old I was born and raised in San Diego California and I live here also.

2. How did you become a barber? 

I would say barbering found me, prior to barber college I had never picked up a pair of clippers or cut anyones hair. I quickly learned that college wasn’t for me and decided I needed to pick up a skill. I first went to an electrical school seeking to be come an electrician, they told me they had a 2 year waiting list. I walked out of there disappointed. However around the corner from the electrical school was the barber college, I went in there just to entertain the idea. They told me I could start the next day if I wanted to, that was 10 years ago and the rest is history.

3. How long has Freshly Faded been in business?

I opened Freshly Faded Barber + Shop in April of 2013. The shop actually started as a website which was a portal through which I asked my clients to schedule their haircuts through. It also allowed me to blog and express my views and opinions of the world.

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4. Your instagram handle is “conscious barber”. What exactly is a conscious barber? How do you describe the connection between hair and spirituality?

Conscious Barber: to be “conscious” I’d say one has to know first who they are, where they come from, and where they are in the world and in society.  Also after one gains that level of intelligence one must be aware and living in the present moment.

Hair and spirituality: If you look at any group of native people around the world you will see that they place high significance on their hair.  And also they will somehow link hair with the spiritual realm.  I see it this way. Our bodies and everything else is made up of fields of energies vibrating at different speeds, and that energy is shifting and flowing through us out into the world constantly.  One of the areas that gets blocked and doesn’t allow energy to flow naturally is the crown of the head, What I do is I work on the slow moving energy which is the physical (hair) and simultaneously work on the fast moving energy traveling outward from the top of the head.

5. I noticed a photo on social media of a sage smudging performed by you on a client. Can you share the significance of this ritual as it pertains to grooming? How does your clientele respond to such activities going on while in the barbershop?  

I never really liked the word smudging because it sounds as if I’m doing something dirty. All I’m doing is using smoke from the sage to clear up negative or stagnant energy that is built up in the crown area of the client.  I am a healer, what good is it to clean up the outside of your house when your inside is dirty?  Our clients love the experience because they know how they feel afterwards.

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6. Do you see a holistic approach to grooming emerging for men of color? How do the worlds of self care/love and grooming intersect for men?

I think for men it is a bit tricky, we have been tricked into believing that self care/love means that we must sacrifice our masculinity to do so.  I think you can still be very manly and still like to look and feel your best.  Some companies out there have been able to effectively market that, but I think it is extremely difficult.

7. You are a black man. You are a successful entrepreneur. Due to your physical attributes and chosen profession, you are often met with risk – physically and financially. Are you often fearful? How do you deal with your fear? 

I really don’t understand this question.  As a black man in society of course there is a level of caution that you must move with, but fear? No fear is something else entirely, fear is something that limits you from success, that isn’t really based in reality. If black people are the original people of this planet then everything here on earth as long as we live in harmony with it can be used to our benefit. Where is the fear in that? Financially, I know that I am going to alway be taken care of, the whole planet is abundant.  The tree has thousands of leaves the dirt has millions of grains, I guess its just important to know that you can never be lacking of anything as long as you remain conscious of who you are and where you are. That is the key.

8. After reading your blog, watching your videos and seeing your social media posts it is very clear you are proud of your blackness. At the same time you were raised and educated in very diverse communities and your staff as well as your clientele are diverse. What then is blackness to you? Is it simply you being you unbothered by other’s perceptions or is it a matter of conscious (there is that word again) education and redefinition of what blackness is for others? 

Here is another question I’m not sure I understand. What is blackness to me?  Blackness in America as defined by America begins with slavery and continues all the way up to President Obama.  The collective achievements and mishaps of people who were once slaves and are so called free today.  But to me blackness starts with the original people of the planet.  Who brought mathematics, science, astronomy, agriculture, music, art, and spirituality to the world.  From whom everything was stolen from, and their descendants are now suffering the world over.  But some of us are waking up.  We are starting to remember who we are where we come from and where we are going.

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9. What do you think of the natural hair boom that has emerged in women of color?

America’s grip on the standard of beauty for women of color is slipping.  There was a time when they could control the various forms of media, and pump the rhetoric that white skin and straight hair is beautiful and dark skin and natural hair is not.  Now with the presence of the internet how can they spread those lies?  You can see for yourself how beautiful you are.  Look in the mirror, post a selfie and then get the positive feedback from millions of people who are just as beautiful as you are.  Black women there is no one like you, you are the closest thing to God on Earth, the sooner you realize that the sooner our situation will change.  Hold yourselves in high esteem because you have a sacred magic that no one else has.  You are it, and we love you!

10. What is your favorite hair style on a woman? 

I love natural hairstyles on women. I dig the wash and go.

 11.What is your favorite hair cut to achieve on a man? What trend do you think needs to go (for men) what is a classic look that you think will never leave (for a man)?

I like cutting fades and leaving natural nappy textures on the top.  I think it is saying to society look, I’m clean, however I am unwilling to compromise who I am because one of you made up a silly rule that all black males must be bald headed. lol.  Since there isn’t a lot of variation in men’s hairstyling I don’t think any trends need to disappear I just think they need to be more refined.  Brothas with texturizers in their hair though?  Save that for the birds, it’s absolutely terrible.  Short clean cuts with sharp clean lines will never go out of style.  But the cool thing is Brothas can make almost any hairstyle look good, both long and short.

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11. What do you envision for Freshly Faded as it grows as a business?

I think Freshly Faded will mature and branch out into other things. I’ve already done men’s haircare products, t-shirts, and other apparel.  I think I would like to recreate this vibration in other places, and give other people the opportunity to feel a part of this positive movement of consciousness. That sometimes starts with a haircut, but ends up in a shifting of a mentality.

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Thank you Brother Banks for the interview! We love to see our black men riding around and gettin’ it! We are proud of you! 

To learn more about Derrick Banks and Freshly Faded

2850 El Cajon Blvd. Suite 1. San Diego, California 92104

Tues-Sat 10am-6pm

(619) 677-4733



                                                                                                              (Post By Shanti)

“In the Castle Of My Skin” – Sons of Kemet

Hello. Meet my newest obsession in music. Check out the British  jazz band Sons of Kemet. I stumbled upon this amazing video set to the song “In the Castle of My Skin” from the band’s second album “Lest We Forget What We Came Here to Do”.  Once I watched the video, I started vibing to the music and got dammit I am obsessed. Check it out.

                                                                                                                 (Post By Shanti)

“Five on the Black Hand Side” by Lamont Hamilton


Beautiful photography researching and portraying the evolution of the “dap” (acronym of dignity and pride) by photographer Lamont Hamilton. 

Five on the Black Hand Side is a project exploring gestural languages that were born in African American communities during the 1960s and 1970s, including the “the dap” and the black power handshake.”

“The dap originated during the late 1960s among black G.I.s stationed in the Pacific during the Vietnam War. At a time when the Black Power movement was burgeoning, racial unrest was prominent in American cities, and draft reforms sent tens of thousands of young African Americans into combat, the dap became an important symbol of unity and survival in a racially turbulent atmosphere. Scholars on the Vietnam War and black Vietnam vets alike note that the dap derived from a pact black soldiers took in order to convey their commitment to looking after one another. Several unfortunate cases of black soldiers reportedly being shot by white soldiers during combat served as the impetus behind this physical act of solidarity.”

Ahhh, the Dopeness and depth of the DAP

To read more about this project click HERE

                                                                                                                 (Post By Shanti)

“Healthy Roots” Natural Dolls For Natural Girls KICKSTARTER

affbeb9dc8ca5b3f512727beb4448880_original-1   I often pace the aisles of toy stores and I leave empty handed (not just because I am cheap and a bad mother) but because there are NO DOLLS that look like my daughter. Either they are unrealistically proportioned white dolls, scary monster, weirdo, sex kittens, black dolls with straight hair and white features or they are dolls peddling propaganda of excessive materialism and sexism. Where are the dolls and toys which offer education and stimulate the imagination? Where are the dolls which offer companionship to the entire spectrum of young girls? The world isn’t just black and white. The spectrum of brown, red, yellow and every color in between is real and beautiful and in need of representation. My daughter is a beautiful blend of her father’s Eritrean ancestry and my white and black genes. Very rarely do I ever feel that she is uncomfortable in her skin. She is constantly reminded by everyone in her life that she is extra-ordinary, clever, funny, intelligent, kind and beautiful.  Yet every now and then she will express her desire for straight hair and her dislike for her big curly hair.  Each and every time that she has voiced her dissatisfaction is when she is stroking the knotty, stringy straight hair of a doll baby or Barbie (that she was gifted and I hadn’t the heart to throw the hell out).  With that being my struggle, I was really excited to be contacted by Yelitsa Jean-Charles. She is a young artist coming from the much respected art school of RISD. She has created the toy company “Healthy Roots” which offer dolls that represent the variation of the African Diaspora with varying hair textures as well as an illustrated reading book and coloring book which offer basic information about natural haircare. It’s genius!  Here is Yelitsa’s response to the state of toys offered to children of color. 

“I created Healthy Roots to fill that void. Internalized racism and colorism stem from mainstream beauty standards that exclude women of color. The pressure that girls feel to appeal to mainstream beauty standards impacts their self esteem, leading them to use dangerous chemicals like perms and bleaching creams to become “beautiful.” Healthy Roots teaches girls of color self-love through education, diversity, and positive representation. If the toys we play with influence how we perceive ourselves, imagine the kind of impact we can have with a toy that aims to inspire and empower.”


Easy reading book included w/ doll explaining basic natural haircare


Real representation of a Healthy Roots Doll


Doll Concepts

Meet Yelitsa and Learn More about her Kickstarter for “Healthy Roots” Toy Company

Yelitsa is 5 days away from her kickstarter ending. She needs help to bring this brilliant idea and hardwork into realization! She is so close already! 

Support Yelitsa’s Kickstarter Today to Make These Dolls A reality for Our Children!

Click the Link HERE

                                                                                                                 (Post By Shanti)

Shanti In LA


I was in LA for the first time in June. I went to visit a friend Emiliano Styles and was shown a wonderful time. We went to lofty high rise restaurants overlooking downtown LA, ate delicious octopus tacos in Grand Central Market, went hiking on Runyun Canyon, bike riding in Venice, and found our way into a secret, hidden Cuban bar with a live saxophone player who played to a woman who danced, twirled and writhed her hips until her white vestido fell and she was left to gyrate in only her bra and panties. We ate fried chicken at Roscoes and discovered the talent of Joseph Khalil at the MOCA. We skipped the Hollywood scene and I absorbed the sun rays and buena onda of the West coast without the glitz and glam of Lala Land.

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I especially loved the graffiti-esque murals that brought an urban edge to the romantic curls and scales of the Spanish architecture. I loved the Latino presence in LA. I loved seeing the traditional Mexican cowboy with a shiny big belt and brown, wide brimmed hat, hand in hand with his lovely woman to the “neo” Latino influenced by black culture, cool as a cucumber with Converses, conversing with the distinct West coast Latino lilt “Ehhhhhh, what’s up?”


 I was in the best of company with Emil. He is a creative inspiration for me. He is an artist, grounded in discipline with just the right shiny sprinkling of idealism and hope.  He is photographing, writing, shooting, directing and editing a beautiful life for himself. He is dope, working hard to be doper. Having well put in his 10,000 hours of practice, he still makes every effort to sharpen his skills and expand creatively. With that being said, he made sure to have his camera on hand  during my visit and documented my time in LA.  He made a video of me! I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you all. He says he wanted to simply capture my curious nature. The video meant much more to me than that. It brought visuals to my daily prayer, “Let it all work out.”

SHANTI IN LA from Emiliano Styles™ on Vimeo.

Black Girls Getting Their Hair Done Via Buzzed


Photographer Adama Jalloh is celebrating black British girlhood via the hair salons of south London in her “Identity” project.


“Rarely do you go to exhibitions and see images of black people, especially when it’s in the UK.”

Adama Jalloh recently completed a degree in photography at the Arts University Bournemouth. “I went to a uni where it was predominantly white people and most of the projects they did tended to be things I wasn’t necessarily interested in,” she says. So in her second year, she started a project that was personal to her, and would shine a light on her – and other black girls’ – beauty rituals. She began visiting black hair salons around Peckham in south London to find subjects, and named the project “Identity”. “I thought the way I live, and the way other black girls have lived, should be shown in that same kind of environment, and in a positive light. Because most of the time when you see images of black people, it tends to be quite negative.”


“A lot of questions are asked whenever I do my hair so I thought I would show them what it’s all about.”

“One of the underlying questions is always: ‘Is your hair part of your identity?’” says Jalloh. “And for me, it definitely is – like an extension of who I am.” The Identity project showcases the versatility of black hair. “When you are young and growing up, you kind of don’t realise how versatile your hair really is – you only see it in one light.”


“When it’s a black audience, it’s not just about discovering. It’s more reminiscing and remembering.”

“When I was showing my work at uni, it was to a mostly white audience. So the way they would respond to it would be completely different to the way black girls would,” says Jalloh. Her images are infused with nostalgia, and recognition. The aim was to stoke the collective memory of black British girls, most of whom share this universal history. “I wanted people to remember what it was like to go the salon to get their hair done,” she says. “This was me wanting wanting people to remember how they used to do their hair.”


“The images are mostly of young girls.”

Jalloh found younger customers to be her most willing subjects. “Teenagers and older women were a bit more skeptical about getting their picture taken,” she says. “I guess when you’re younger you don’t really care that much.”


“It was definitely drawn for a black audience.”

“When I was at uni, there was just a lot of hair touching,” says Jalloh, who won the British Journal of Photography’s Breakthrough Award in May 2015. “This project in particular relates more to black women, and I knew it would get a positive response,” she says. It is important to Jalloh that her work be something audiences can relate to. A selection of her photographs is being shown at the Black British Girlhood exhibition in London (curated by Bekke Popoola, and now extended until 5 August).


“I just wanted to show how versatile our hair is, whether its natural or in extensions.”

Jalloh says the majority of the salons she visited were staffed by African and West Indian women, who were mostly reluctant to have their photos taken. “When I mentioned the project, they didn’t want to be seen on the internet,” she says, laughing. “So when you look at the images, you’re seeing their hands rather than their faces.” The restriction ended up working in her favour. “It would have been cool to have more faces in it,” she adds, “but by the end I was focusing more on the actual ways our hair was being done and trying to tell a story about that.



“Anything to do with black British girls is pretty much non-existent.”

“I’m 22,” says Jalloh, “and if I went to an exhibition and saw [the art at Black British Girlhood], I’d be like ‘yeah, I can relate to that.’” “I want people to react in a similar way to how I reacted.”


Jalloh’s next project centres around gentrification and a disappearing way of life in south London.

“I’m working on a project that’s slightly linked to identity, but not focused on just black girls – it’s more of a community of black people and other people of colour,” she says. The photography series centres on the residents of an estate close to where she lives in Peckham. “It’s being knocked down and new buildings are being built near and around it already and being labelled as “affordable housing” when really, it’s not affordable. The people who are going to move in there are far richer than the people who are being kicked out of the estate right now.” “There’s so much gentrification going on at the moment. I’ve been documenting parts of the estate and the people who live there, just to make sure there’s a memory of it left over because it would be a shame not to.”

The Black British Girlhood Exhibition is on until August 5th at the Centre for Better Health in Hackney.

Things That Interest The Around The Way Curl – Deuce x Deuce

Khalil Joseph

The videography of Khalil Joseph. I recently visited LA for the first time and I went to the MOCA. On exhibition was the video “Double Consciousness” treated to Kendrick Lamar’s album “m.A.A.d city”. The video is fifteen minutes long and played on two split screens displaying the dichotomy of the beauty and the horror of black life in LA.  Thoughtful and often cryptic (no pun intended) Joseph brings to life the young, old, innocent and tainted characters of Kendrick Lamar’s  lyrics. I had never heard of Khalil Joseph until I stepped foot into MOCA and now I want to know so much more about the fiercely private director of short films and music videos. I was unable to find and share the “double consciousness” video (if you’re in LA go to the MOCA and see it!) but this video directed by Khalil for Flying Lotus “Until the Quiet Comes” shows the amazing grace he brings to grit.


Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”


  Which brings me to ol’ boy Kendrick Lamar. He is doing what so many muthafuckas want to do but can’t because they lack the artistic ability and affinity that comes so naturally to Lamar. For example, no matter what Kanye or Jay Z try to offer as their “original art” (Marina Abramovic, Givenchy designs, clothing, and often times music) falls flat to me. It always seems to miss the mark, feels two dimensional, feigned and selfish. But when I listen to Kendrick’s  albums, the characters he creates, the many moods he sets when I watch his collaboration with Khalil Joseph it is obvious the lil man has a distinct, altruistic message that he is attempting to share. That’s what real artist do, they have something to say and they twist, turn, stretch, sketch, type, film, paint and syncopate to get the message across in mediums that are sometimes hard to digest and understand. I dig that shit man.  

I watched his new video “Alright”  and immediately shared it with my videographer/filmmaker friend. Initially, he was pissed that the piece was so cryptic and “senseless” but because he knows that nothing within an artist’s work is unintentional he studied it and came up with an interpretation which I think is spot on. The beginning scenes are hellish, chaotic and a reflection of the times and state of consciousness of the masses. The upside down Kendrick represents the cocooned Kendrick, the growing of consciousness and resistance, the floating Kendrick is the “butterfly”, evolved, “flying high” who perhaps can be a hopeful inspiration extended to the black race which the oppressors/evil don’t want to see thus the “shooting” and bringing down of Kendrick but it ain’t over. What do you guys think? What are your interpretations? Did you like the video?


Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Confession of a Seduction Addict” 

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I related a lot to this article. I didn’t relate to the addiction to seduction part. I don’t pursue, I don’t meddle, I don’t change for men nor am I feign for attention. What I do relate to is the pattern of overlapping, serial monogamous relationships. I suppose I love love, of experiencing the variances of being “in like” to the reckless, all consuming madness of losing myself in another until now. I have met my match – myself. I have surrendered to being a lone. No distractions. Just me, my God and the current of my fears, hopes, pain and dreams which bubble within me like a cold, thick stew being warmed.  I can relate with Gilbert in the contemplative, difficult journey of finding the savory in alone-ness. (Hardest shit I have ever done son.)

To continue to the article, click

The Music of Son Little 

I have been meaning to share this brother since winter but…I haven’t. I love his sound so much I couldn’t not share it. Son Little is a Philly Native. I am proud to represent for him. “O’ Mother” is heart wrenching and so Donny Hathaway-esque. Tell me what ya’ll think. 


What’s of Interest to you guys?

New music? Movies? Articles? Pop Culture? Share!!!

I Want to know!

-Shanti BTW (Our system is jacked so we can only send it from one account)

Ulta’s “Love Your Hair Campaign” Product Reviews

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My Turn! As you know Ulta is having their in-store and online, “Love Your Hair Event” all month long. Shanti and I were gifted with some products to review and as much as we hate trying new products this wasn’t so bad.

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K-Pak is a product line that is starting to get a lot of attention and for good reason. I was first introduced to this line at the Best in Black Beauty Essence Event. This intense hydrator is essentially a deep conditioner stocked with amino acids that offers immediate hydration in only 5 minutes. It leaves your hair soft, detangled, hydrated and manageable and only for $4.99. Child, you can’t be that price. Mucho bang for your buck. However, please note that this product contains silicones which are highly effective at smoothing and taming frizz but can also create product build up. So, be sure to monitor your build up and cleanse regularly if you use this product in excess.

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 Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner ended up being a winner in the end but I was skeptical. Ouidad’s claim is that it ” instantly defines and hydrates curls while keeping frizz at bay… (it) creates a “moisture foundation” by infusing hair with vital conditioning proteins. Prickly pear extract draws in moisture from the air and seals it in for superior hydration while antioxidant green tea and vitamin B5 help protect and promote shine. Arnica extract lends a smoothing touch—sealing the cuticle for frizz-free results.” 

I was initially turned off by this product because it didn’t detangle my hair well or have much slip when I applied it. I added  quarter size amount to my wet hair and began to let it air dry. About 10 minutes later I examine my strands and the product was so lightweight, I couldn’t tell if my hair was actually being hydrated or not. So, I added another quarter size amount to my hair and still it felt like nothing was applied. I couldn’t see or feel the product in my hair. When I scrunched my strands together to mold them into the ‘perfect curl’ there was no white film… no product residue on my hands… nothing. It was strange. 

So, I mentally prepared myself for a horrible hair day and got my top knot supplies ready. About 30 minutes later I looked at my hair and to my surprise, I loved the way my hair looked. My curls were incredibly happy, weightless and full of movement, body and bounce. I wasn’t mad at all.  Frizz free? No. Not really. But I don’t like frizz free hair anyway so me no care.

Overall, I like this conditioner because it doesn’t create a lot of build up and it allows my natural curl to be a little more wild and free. With that said, I would definitely recommend it to curlies looking for a weightless leave-in who have looser, fine curls like mine. This is that, ‘hair blowing in the wind’ leave-in.

*Side note*  

I just dyed my hair ombre blonde and feel like I need something  with a little more slip for the time being because my bleached strands are a bit stiff and ratchet. I’ll continue to use this product again once my hair health is restored.

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Now you already know I couldn’t resist trying out a product called Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play. This is essentially hair spray. It’s not much different from any other hair spray I’ve used besides the fact that it comes in this fun packaging. It has a lot of hold and a lot of power so if you like movement, I would use a very small amount. I flipped my hair to the opposite side in which I part it, sprayed the roots a little, fluffed and enjoyed some added body. Boom. It’s that simple. Not much to review here. It did it’s job the way I expected it to do. I do want to try their volume and texturizing powder though.  

The Results


Natural Light


Natural Light


Natural Light


Natural Light


Artificial Light. No Flash


Artificial Light. No Flash 


To Check out more Hair Products for Ulta’s Month of May “Love Your Hair Campaign”, go to to see what hair products are available on sale!

Senegalese Twist Crown Up Do

senegalese twist   This video is a simple updo for senegalese twists. All you need to complete this style are bobby pins.

Keep in mind you want to hydrate your real hair while they are in the twists. The easiest way to do that is to create a hydrating mist and spray your hair both at night and in the morning.

DYI Hydrating Mist Recipe:

2-TBSP Leave-In Conditioner

1 TBSP Coconut Oil

1 TBSP Aloe Vera Juice

Remainder Water

Shake Well and Spray


If you follow us on instagram you’ll know that while I loved my twists, they unfortunately, were not for me. My hair was far too thin and fine for them. I left the twists in for about a month and after, I did I experience a lot of breakage due to the weight of the hair and the amount of updos I wore for work. They didn’t feel too tight but at times, they felt too heavy. There was just too much pulling at my roots. Oddly enough however, the hair that was not being ripped from my scalp was pretty happy and healthy. LOL.  This told me that the  moisturizing mist worked but the weight of the twists did not. So, I still recommend them as a protective style just not for women with fine or damaged hair. You must have that real good healthy stuff to rock these. Oh well, you can’t win them all. I tried and my hard headed/big headed self will probably try again and complain about being bald when I take them out.

Whateva. At the end of the day it’s just hair. Right?

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