I am more open and free spirited because of my Dreads.

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I have been fascinated by colorful dreadlocks ever since I saw them worn in Spain, when I was backpacking in 2004.
I wore pink, purple and green dreadlocks made by celebrity hair and makeup artist Krystal with my Rainbow Wedding Dress, and today I’m so excited to rock my ombre brown to blonde and rainbow Locks, my birthday present to myself, because I finally decided that I’m not too old, because you’re never too old, as long as you’ve still got hair.
I literally can’t wait, it’s all I’m thinking about.
I had the pleasure of getting to interview Therin Mayhem, artist and owner of Iconic Locks,  from Portland OR., who makes the most incredible synthetic dreadlocks EVER.
According to her Etsy shop, she has already sold 6,307 since 2009!
I was so excited to learn that she started making dreads for a cosplay costume for a class she was taking on Japanese pop culture and street fashion, because Japanese street fashion has been such a source of inspiration for me since the beginning of my interest in fashion when I used to cover my walls with torn out pages of fruits magazine!
Back in 2004, right after I came back from Europe, I actually collaborated with TOKYOPOP Comic Books on a Fashion Show, and was hired to make costumes for their Courtney Love Princess Ai music video. Later that year, they took me with them to Comic-con, where they had me design costumes worn by live models, inspired by their pop-manga and anime comic book characters! I love that the inspiration for Iconic Locks is traced back to Therin’s class presentation where she wanted to make a dreaded version of a character in an anime film called Karas.
No wonder I was so drawn to Iconic Locks. Our roots in design were inspired by the colorful and fun looks of Harajuku street fashion.

The Anthropologist and Social Worker in me, is always worried about offending cultures/religions and actually anyone. So I’ve wondered if I would anger anyone if I dread locked my thin stick straight boring hair.

I realize that hair is a touchy subject tied to beauty, identity and politics, and that hairstyles, like fashion, can make a statement adding complexity to the issue of cultural appropriation, while others might argue that wearing dreads is appreciation.

For me, its neither appropriation or appreciation. While I appreciate the context, and how locks are sacred and historically significant to multiple cultures from India to ancient Egypt, Germanic tribes, Vikings, Pacific Islanders, early Christians, New Gineans, Aborigines, the Galla, Maasai, Somali, Ashanti and Fulani tribes of Africa, and of course the Rastafarians; to me, my inspiration behind getting the locks is the psychadelic rainbow colored synthetic dreads I saw in Spanish street fashion when I was passing through on my backpacking adventures.

My hair, has always been my creative outlet, it’s been my way to color outside the lines and express myself. I want to finally give myself permission to just do whatever I feel like doing with my hair, because I’m not too old, and I don’t want to have to care about what other people will think. I’m really trying to let go of caring. Because I do care. But I know I shouldn’t hold myself back from living life in fear of being judged. Because life is too short, and as I am watching my hair fall out after this pregnancy, I am realizing that anything I’ve ever wanted to do with my hair I should take a Carpe Diem approach with, because if I want to get dreds or color it purple again like I did in high-school, or if I want to grow it long, or cut my bangs, or shave it all off…. why not!? It’s just hair. Might as well have fun with it while I have it 😉 Sure, there are people who will think I look crazy, or dumb, or maybe they’ll be insulted somehow by however I chose to put myself together. Or maybe they’ll think I lost it, that I’ve flown off the deep end or that I’m having some kind of life crisis. And that’s OK. I can’t control what anyone else thinks.  I simply just thing they look cool, and I hate my boring flat hair.

I talked to Therin about my concern with being accused of cultural appropriation, and I loved her response.

“after doing lots of research, I think anyone can wear dreads, it’s all about the individuals experience. If you are concerned about cultural appropriation, many feel the dreadlocks do not fit into one culture. Historically and presently people all over the world have dreads and other hair extensions/decorations. However, cultural appropriation is very real and very problematic and harmful and cultures should be respected and not commodified.”

In terms of feeling “too old” to wear them, her response was: “You are never too old for dreads, some of the most stunning pics I have seen are of beautiful women with silver blended dreads. Absolutely stunning. Ultimately, it should feel right for you to wear them. If you’re curious and afraid to try, then you should try them, because not doing something out of fear may not get you where you want to go in life. Be bold, take a risk!”

I love how Iconic Locks encourages people to “rock their own style and get excited about having custom color blends made, custom thicknesses and lengths. Your choice of decor. What kind of a vibe do you want to bring to your dreads? There are beads of every color, every material. If you’re into rainbows and resins, flowers and lace, hemp and wood, whatever you feel represents you and be added to your dreads! Personalizing them is so much fun, and you can change up the decorations whenever you like.”

I absolutely am head over heals in love with dreads. Not only do I think they’re so awesome on peoples heads, but they symbolize a sense of freedom for me, in fact, I’m so inspired by them, they actually influence so many of my fashion designs from my custom rainbow wedding dresses to my electrical light up gowns, in a crazy 3 dimensional flowey mixed media, textured way.

“There’s something really romantic about dreadlocks. It changes the sense of self and identity. I’ve had customers tell me that it really helped them evolve into someone they felt more confident being. Dreadlocks really represent a certain sense of freedom. To me, when I have dreads, I feel more confident and approachable. People interact with me in a different way. I seem to attract a lot of good luck and sweet interactions. Maybe people assume that I am more open or free spirited because of my dreads.”- Therin Mayhem

Click on the link below to shop at Iconic Locks!


Dreads by Krystal, Rainbow Wedding Dress by Evey aka Rainbow Light Bride

Pink, green, and brown dreads by Krystal, Custom one-of-a-kind rainbow, painted, ombre, up-cycled and light up wedding dresses by Evey aka Rainbow Light Bride.

Merino Wool Rainbow Dreads by Cheyenne


  1. Shannon says:

    Great piece! I’ve been thinking any getting dreads!! This is inspiring

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