“I’m very blessed to have two passions. One of them is fitness and one of them is Dreadsock.”
Talking with other naturals out there, I always find it interesting (and surprising) how hair can lead us to connect to one another on much deeper levels. This past week I was fortunate enough to carve out some time to chat with Julian Burke, founder of Dreadsock, to discuss the development of his company and his journey to growing and accepting his hair. He shared with me the process of founding his own company and how locking his hair helped me reconnect with his roots and to a deeper connection to his heritage and spirituality. We had a chance to touch on the whole “good hair” vs. “bad hair” debate and really connected on growing up in racially mixed households and largely White school environments.
MANE MAN: Hi Julian, I’m glad we were able to sit down and talk! When I initially heard about Dreadsock I was very curious about what made you get started. It’s not common for a guy to be spearheading a hair related product, so I was very curious about what got you there.
Julian Burke: Well, it was never about anything more than my dreads. I always wanted to grow locs for years and I never did. I put it off. When you decide to lock you hair up, that’s it. You either have to shave it. Or that’s it. I kept putting it off, it just wasn’t the right time and there was this lady who actually helped me get started, I told her that I don’t ever want to lose a job because of my locks. I wanted to make sure that I kept them clean and I knew from the locks I had seen, there were some people who had bed lint in their locks or it was matted and I didn’t want that. I really wanted to keep them clean and I never wanted to have to change careers or professions because of my hair. So when she started them, she was from Jamaica via England, staying in my home town in West Virginia, and she said, “I can help you get them started.” So she got me started and Dreadsock was never meant to be anything other than something I could wear at night to cover up my locks without getting bed lint or any other debris in my hair. It was a simple concept and I always try to keep it simple. After a few years, people figured out ways to use it for more than just sleeping and I think that’s great.
MM: Yeah, I was thinking about your work as a personal trainer and just wondering if Dreadsock has been something that you’ve incorporated in your workouts and that sort of thing?
JB: Well, it has gone from just a covering to now where we have bandanas, headbands and stuff like that. People have also begun to wear it as a fashion statement, or a more fashionable product as opposed to just a sleep cover. The sock in and of itself isn’t the most beautiful thing to wear out, but that’s OK because it was designed to wear to sleep so it doesn’t have to look great. But the design of it and the material are amazing. I worked for years to find just the right material so that it wasn’t sliding off at night. There were versions that I tried that would slide off at night or leave that terrible ring on your forehead and I wanted it to be easy. I didn’t want to have to wrap it or tie it, so it really took years for me to really come up with or research the perfect product. Like I’ve always said, the simpler the concept, the more effective it is. Now, I’ve got so many ideas and now we’re going to make it a line of apparel. Whether that be knitted hats or Winter caps or baseball hats, I’ve got a lot of sketches and I lot of ideas of prototypes that we can get to the market.
Read on for the full interview…