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Graphics and layout: Konstanze Winkler
Photos: © M. Penners
MAGIC TRIBAL HAIR's workshop of ideas
Nearly anything is impossible! From a modular system for tribal fusion accessories up to custom-made products
Interview with Melanie Penners
Part 2, by Konstanze Winkler, translation Melanie Penners
What are your sources of inspiration?

Good question, sometimes I even ask this myself! (laughs). This is true what I am telling you now. It really happened that I was having a shower or was going by car to the supermarket in order to fill the empty fridge and I was thinking about nothing peculiar. One could say that my head was running in idle and suddenly – boom – I had the idea of a whole new product. That is for example how I “created” the new combo-tribal-headbands with removable belt clips.

ShaliSari's costumes are an inspirational source as well. Ulrike Huber's creations are by far the most fanciful costumes in the tribal scene and I am allowed to pick up colours and single elements of the costumes as for example feathers or laces and make matching accessories. I really have the deepest respect for what she is doing and it is a huge compliment for me, that she also appreciates my accessories. We inspire each other and that's just wonderful!

Last but not least I admit that lots of inspirations come from the customers themselves. They ask me for a special product or style they have thought of. Sometimes I to tell them that their ideas are impossible or just too expensive to realise and sometimes I really have to think hard until I have found the right way to craft the item. Up to now several amazing products have emerged from these conversations! Unfortunately I do not have enough arms to materialise all wonderful ideas and now and then I wish I were an Indian goddess, one of those with 6 arms!
But there are also other reasons for me taking some time putting an idea into a final product. The idea of a belt clip was about one year old when I finally found the right attachment, the flash of insight in the car, you remember.
I wanted an attachment which was simple and easy to handle, which offers strong hold and is multi-functional and I finally found it, too.
tiara of hair roses from the new “hair(y) art” product line
Can you describe your belt clips – what is a belt clip exactly and how does it become a multi-functional item?

A belt clip is a clip decoration which you can put onto your tribal fusion belt or hip scarf. I only use professional clips for strong hold, with a strong spring in their mechanism. These clips do not need any teeth to get a good grip which is important for sensitive fabrics that could be damaged by such teeth.
belt clips „Black Paradise“ worn with a black lace skirt

Apsara Habiba with cowry bobble belt clips attached to a simple hip scarf
Professional hair clips offer stronger hold than average crocodile hair clips and they are not bent but flat, so the jewellery attached to them is closer to your head and doesn't stick out. All belt clips can be worn in tied up hair as well. Your hair has to be tied up, because they would slip down in loose hair due to their weight. If you prefer wearing them in open hair, you can attach them to hair scarfs, hair bands or at the special combo-tribal-headband I invented. This model has “hamster cheeks” at both sides where the clips can be put in. They can also be removed again, so you are able to add new hair jewellery to this headband and wear the clips on your belt, too.

This new model of tribal headband is not as static as the old one, where everything is attached with glue and cannot be removed again. But I will still not take the old model off my product range. The static model has the advantage that a huge piece of hair jewellery is put one with just one hand grip, which is comfortable for dancers who have two performances in a row.
Belt clips are very simple to attach at the new basic headband, which has a support lace just like the old model. The support band stays in the neck and secures the headband during dance performances.
Belt clips Red Passion Cameo with a black, lace-covered basic headband
This is also a great opportunity for those who cannot sew or just don't have the time, but still want to be a bit creative themselves!
And last but not least, this does not only mean creative freedom but is also a possibility to use the same accessories for several costumes. Not only the belt clips can be combined again, but also the basis, the hip scarf.
From left to right: belt clips Northern Lights, New Gothic and Red Passion Cameo with different net skirts, the beautiful lady in the middle is my friend Nora Wolf, who sometimes helps me at fairs, too, just like here at the Orientale 2011
hip scarf worn as hair scarf with 2 belt clips Black Magic
So one could say that belt clips are an add-on to the costume and are based on a modular system?

Exactly. That is what I wanted to achieve, multi-functional accessories which can be combined with costumes you already have and renew them. And on the other hand be a whole new part of a costume with a basis like a hair or hip scarf or a basic headband. All the necessary basics are also offered in the Magic Tribal Hair online shop. I have dyed all the scarfs myself, because I have made negative experience with dyed fabrics from for example India. I appreciate colour-fast products, one should be able to wear a wine red belt scarf on a cream coloured costume without being afraid of getting pink stains just because of sweating!
By the way, according to the modular system all fascinators, hair clips with feathers or flowers, cowry clips etc. can be attached to the basic headbands and scarfs, of course.
Hairfalls of yarns Desdemona Glamour and matching belt clip with 3 different decorations
Are the belt clips collections the same as the ones for hairfalls of yarns, so one can buy these items as sets?

Yes, they are and when you buy a set there is always a little discount. But belt clips are becoming more and more popular as hair jewellery as well. I assume that they will not totally supersede hairfalls of yarns, because they are not as full as them. If you want to add only a dash of colour to your hair, such a belt clip is a great opportunity; or you take the clip-in variant for hair. Magic Tribal Hair offers every hairpiece of yarns also as clip variant, which should not be mixed up with belt clips; it is a different product! These clip variants consist of yarns only which are attached to a special comb clip for strong hold in only 5 cm long hair! So I also use these clips to make hairpieces for women with very short hair.
left: Apsara Habiba with yarn clips Vintage Passion as hair jewellery
clips Dark Angel in short hair as whole hairfalls of yarns
What about customer requirements, to what extend are you able to consult them?The customer is queen or king, as I have just had some male customers recently! As far as I can guarantee very good quality, I will react to a wish. I have to be careful what I am saying now, because you never know which requests you will get in the future! (laughs) Okay, let's be serious, I've really had some exciting orders already. Just take a look at this picture with me and the hair clip with 2 braids and black and white ostrich plumes. The braids have the amazing length of 1.50 m and are almost as long as me! This was a custom order for a woman who had that long hair. My longest kanekalon hair is 100 cm long but there are some tricks to plait endlessly long braids. I could not refrain from taking a photo before sending these precious braids!
There are also some requests now and then, I cannot fulfil, mostly for financial reasons. Sometimes Magic Tribal Hair customers forget that my products are not made as a pastime or  amusement, but manufacturing is work, even if this work is lots of fun, too. They do not see that point, they have just that much imagination and so many beautiful ideas that they forget about the practical aspect. So sometimes I have to bring them down back to earth. It is just impossible to dye only one hip scarf for someone in her favourite colour and I cannot accept orders where somebody creates a product out of material of many different ones, this is way to time-consuming. I can make an exception if a whole group of dancers orders such a thing, because then the new creation will be ordered for 7 or even more times.
On the other hand, there are items which can be custom-made, even if only one piece is ordered. If a customer finds a feather fascinator in my product range in black red, and she wishes turquoise feathers instead of the red ones, that's possible, of course and also without any extra payment. Or if someone orders a classical tribal headband with lots of yarns and wants to have a less rich variant, this is also possible and the smaller headband costs less money, naturally.
Last but not least there are many Magic Tribal Hair products which are only custom-made, like for example all hairfalls of kanekalon. The customer always chooses the colour of the hair, but when it comes to hairfalls of braids he or she also chooses the colour of all decorative elements. The magician model contains for example lots of ostrich plumes, which are available in many colours.
feather hair clip fascinator Red Poison with red and black feathers and fascinator Dark Ocean which was made on customer's request
classical tribal headband Red Passion with more yarns on the left and less yarns on the right
hairfalls of braids, model magician with ostrich plumes and cowries or cymbals are always custom-made: The customer orders a specific colour of hair and ostrich plumes

Fairs and bazars in 2011:

Westerwald, Tribal D.A.CH Verein
Bazar to the „Colors of Tribal“ Show

Köln, Art Oriental Festival

Augsburg, Orient Magazin Festival

Offenburg, 2nd Black Forest Tribalfestival

Duisburg, 19th Oriental Dance Festival of Europe

To sum it up: There are products which are only available the way they are presented in the online shop, others which are only custom-made, and others which can be custom-made. Customers may always feel free to ask me via e-mail, telephone or at the Magic Tribal hair stall at fairs and other events.
If you have a belt with lots of pieces of Afghan jewellery, a belt clip is the possibility to set some removable colour accents which can be removed again, so that the belt also matches other costumes. If you sewed on the yarns, you'd be bound in colour.
But let's get back to the tribal belt! I think it is interesting to have an alternative to complete static belts. You can make a fanciful tribal belt out of every simple scarf, just attach one or two belt clips.