Curl Talk - Let's talk Natural Hair!



So there's something fantastic happening in Nairobi this weekend that I am so excited about that I can't wait to attend. Have you heard of Felicia Leatherwood? I hadn't really until a few weeks ago when I saw her name doing the rounds on some Natural hair groups on Facebook. Turns out she is a celebrated natural hair stylist from LA, California, known to many as "The Hair Whisperer" and is a miracle worker when it comes to hair. She has styled the hair of personalities such as Viola Davis, Jill Scott, Nicole Ari Parker, Teyonah Paris, Ava DuVernay as well as men such as Will Smith, Terrence Howard and Hill Harper to name a few, for red carpet and magazine cover looks. Her work has appeared in Essence, InStyle, People Magazines, as well as television and film.


Now before I get into the event details, which I'll be emceeing as well as participating in as a panel member, I 'd like to give you a little back story to my natural hair journey and why I'm excited about this weekend. Funny enough, it's not as serious or deliberate as many would think. It feels as though everything that has happened with my hair over they years has just been in the realm of "Oh, okay cool."

I did my first “Big Chop” when I was 9 years old. It wasn’t because I had relaxed hair that I wanted to get rid of but more because I saw a caucasian character on a TV show with a nice tapered pixie cut, and thought all I had to do was tell Jasper the barber that I wanted a “box" and all would be good. Suffice it to say I cried myself to sleep that night because I could not believe what had just happened. All my hair was gone. Before the cut I had long, natural hair that cascaded down my back and now I looked like a boy. Even my mum was shocked, albeit a little amused.

But, I quickly got over it, as kids usually do and soon enough, as my hair began to grow out, the hair relaxer ads started to flood our screens. Cue “Style and Bounce”, ( I loved that song), “Satin Sheen” and “Dark and Lovely”. I begged my mum to let me relax my hair since everyone around me was doing it, and I really wanted my hair to look straight and silky when I went swimming, you know, like the white folk. Of course, there was also the notion that caucasian like hair and skin was better so I did everything I could to try be like that, including sitting in the sun with soap on my face, and putting all my mum's hair products in my hair. Sorry mum! (I once almost put Veet on my scalp.) Eventually, 6 months after the big chop, my mum relented and got my aunt to relax my hair at her house. In my mind, my hair was going to be as long and straight as Mariah Carey’s in about 2 years and I was so ready for it! (I wanted to be Mariah so bad, in every way, singing and looks included.)

My hair care regimen was simple. Swim (which I did pretty much every minute of every day), dry my hair under the ladies room hand dryer, slather on Vaseline and go. I would retouch my hair at home when needed using “Beautiful Beginnings”. In fact, the girl on the box was my hair idol. In a huge way. I wonder what her name is and where she is now.




Obviously, my hair didn’t really grow as I expected it to and it just remained in this weird length all through out high school. Also, yo, have I come a long way or what?




Fast forward to a couple of years after high school, some time in 2004, I was in the bathroom, trying to figure out how to style my hair for a party. I got frustrated, asked my mum to cut off my hair and she refused. I then just did it myself. My first Big Chop. Just like that. That was my look as I joined University, weight loss included.



Now, the thing with me is that if I wake up and I feel I want to do something different with my hair, I go ahead and do it. So of course my Uni days were tempered with lot's of different hairstyles. I would do my own braids, regular tiny ones as well as yarn braids, cornrows, texturizers, colour, relaxers again, even weaves during Project Fame. Everything that came to mind, I did. It wasn't too healthy for my hair but to be honest that wasn't my biggest concern.





This continued up until early 2010, a few months after Project Fame, when I then decided to chop off my hair again after a nasty debacle with tangled braids and beach sand. Same thing; my bathroom, a pair of scissors and my gut.


February 2010 

At about this time I met the lovely ladies of Kurly Kichana who introduced me to the world of healthy, natural hair. I then decided to finally, intentionally care for my hair, and remain natural for the rest of my life. I decided I wanted a Big Ass Afro and that was it. The new, healthy hair journey commenced! I was all on my way to a BAA. Length chasing, as many call it. 






I was really enjoying this time with my hair, but then I got cast in a 3 month long tour that would have me singing and dancing on stage, 6 nights a week in Europe in the middle of the winter. Now, I loved my fro but caring for it during that time would be a huge hassle. So I made the decision to shave off the sides, (because sleeping with a fro usually results in one flat side, so annoying). As much as I still wanted to have my hair as long as possible, it really didn't make sense at the time. I figured this worked best, and my hair would be okay as I would be able to wash and go every day and have it hassle free. That is how the tapered cut came to life for me in August 2012.




Since then, well, I've had some fun with different styles including braids of all sizes, a very short shave, I even relaxed it again, installed DIY crotchet braids, made a crochet wig (which my friend has since claimed), and I know I'll keep trying new things as I go along. The point for me is to be comfortable with your hair, in whatever way you choose to wear it. It's not about saying one way is bad, or another way is better, but finding a balance and loving yourself as you are, naturally curly haired or not.



DIY Crotchet braids earlier this year.

A DIY crotchet wig I made about 3 months ago with Marley braids.
Let me just take this moment to should out my mum, who happens to be my hair crush, locks and all. Most of what I've done with my hair she did when she was younger, from the fro to the tapered cuts and even the almost bald look with intricate designs on the back. She did my hair a lot when I was younger, from braiding it, cornrows, relaxing it...she pretty much passed on that DIY attitude to me.





I always find myself returning to the tapered cut as it's the most convenient. I play around with different designs at the back, like my mum used to do when I was younger. This is something that my barber, Mogaks (0722 102 848), is always happy to experiment with. I only settled with him this year after years of going round to different random barbers with pictures of what I want. It seemed to work well enough for me then, but now I'm really happy I found him. He's based in Hurlingham so if you do go to him, tell him I referred you to him :-) He's the sweetest.

This is Porgie, a good friend, not boyfriend, or lover or fiancé or husband! Lol!

I also feel that with my lifestyle, I was able to let go of the length chasing notion which many do carry when we first go natural. Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting length, I support anyone who is on that path but for me, I've found I can get that length by getting a natural hair weave. The folks at Amadiva Beauty are right on the money with this and I can't wait to try it out. Have you seen what they did with Sharon? She doesn't wear her hair natural, but after following her snapsand hearing what she had to say about this hair do, I can't wait to hear what she says about possibly transitioning in the future. I feel that this kid of weave can also let you, if you aren't natural yet, gauge for yourself if it's something worth trying. Check out her blog post to check out how amazing she looks.



These are all weaves, guys. I would love to try out the one on the bottom right.

There's so many different Big Ass Afros you can explore with Amadiva, as seen in the image above, even just to get to experience what it would be like when your hair finally gets there. You feel me?

Now, back to this weekend. The lovely folks at Naturals In Nairobi which was started by the gorgeous, and super sweet Ayanna James, have brought Felicia to Nairobi for an intimate talk on all things natural hair care. If you wear your hair natural, are thinking about going natural, have locks, have a short crop, a huge fro, have relaxed hair, you will definitely benefit from this. Simply put, everyone is welcome.

Ayanna James, Sharon Mundia and Felicia Leatherwood earlier today.

Felicia, aside form being a hair stylist, is an inspirational beauty speaker who has helped thousands of women all over the world to understand and love their natural hair no matter what state its in. I also feel that this is an important weekend, as we shall be able to speak about issues that go beyond hair. Topics such as self acceptance and self love, because yes, the issue of how we choose to wear our hair is sometimes nuanced by so many things that go very deep.

She will be conducting two hair care workshops tomorrow the 14th at The Sankara Hotel and on Sunday the 15th November at The Dusit Hotel. She will also host a more technical masterclass on the 17th November at Amadiva Beauty located at 14 Riverside. There will be panel discussions of which I shall be a panel member.

I shall be the emcee of the event as well.

Join other naturalistas for an intimate talk with Felicia where she will share expert advice on everything from transitioning to natural, determining your hair type, which product ingredients to look for and to avoid, and all other basics of natural hair care while answering all of your burning questions.

Tickets are available on Ticketsasa at the following prices. http://bit.ly/1LMmRYK (Early bird tickets are over.)
2,500/- for general seating.
3,000/- for VIP seating. (Front row seats plus up close and personal chat with Felicia before event starts.)
3,000/- At the door for general seating.

The ticket price includes food and refreshments as well as gift bags with amazing Beautiful Textures and African Pride products. (Extra goodies for VIP ticket holders.) You also get to check out some amazing products by local vendors who will be present such as Keyara, Zanzi Naturals, Ajani Handmade, Marini Naturals and more. And finally, you get to have a great time mingling and meeting with other amazing women like yourself who will be in attendance!


Time: 1-5pm
Program:1-1:30 Greetings and Introduction
1:30-2:30 Panel Discussion with Felicia (Q & A)
2:30-4:30 Felicia expert advice presentation (Q & A)
4:30-5:00 Wrap up. There will be some great vendors on site so be sure to visit them.

The dress code is Kitenge/Ankara. (Photographers will be present to capture all the beautiful natural crowns in attendance so look fab!)

EARLY ARRIVAL IS STRONGLY SUGGESTED.

I hope to see you there!
PK.

6 comments

  1. Love what you shared about length chasing and learning to be comfortable with your hair/ self. I was natural until the end of high school, then I went through a cycle of relaxing, chopping off, going natural for a while before rinsing and repeating. Earlier this year I cut it all off again. And more and more in my own "hair journey", the destination has become to love myself wholly and fully, whatever the texture, color, nature of my hair. The first time I cut my hair I felt so insecure with short hair, but this time around I was so confident and comfortable. Like, the India Arie song is my soundrack.

    Side: dk if you read this incredible piece that Taiye Selasi wrote for Elle Magazine ("I am not my Hair") a while back.

    gahh what a long comment. Enjoy the workshops/ event this weekend! xx

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