I planted Vonnie on the ground to observe and report. All you ‘nachels’ and wanna-be ‘nachels’ enjoy.
The natural hair community is a tight knit online massive group of black women who have decided to embrace their natural tresses and share regimens, product reviews, styling tips, and general encouragement with one another. Black Girl Long Hair is one of the super popular sites for natural hair care and the lovely Leila, owner of BGLH Marketplace and blogger, started organizing Natural Hair meetups in the Chicago area that have gone from about 20 women to 600+ in a very short period of time! The last meetup was a hub of women going from vendor to vendor to vendor, oohing and ahhing over wares while gushing about each otherâ€™s hair, and listening to a natural hair stylist guru share insight.
Leila is happy with the growth of the event and hopes that it continues to be a go-to destination for the Chicago Area women who want to have gorgeous hair and mingle with like minded women. â€œI always try to talk to a few women after each event to get their feedback — if they’re fine with the way things are, or if they want more. Based on the feedback I’ve received, attendees definitely want more. In between meetups is a critical time when I brainstorm with my husband and planning partner, Erin, on how to make things bigger and better. I really didn’t know that there were that many naturals in the Chicagoland area and, in many ways, that is just scratching the surface. At the very least, I think the site (bglhonline.com) and meetups are an opportunity for women of color to talk freely and honestly about issues related to haircare and beauty. And I think that’s important.â€ Leila seems to have a knack for drawing in people, whether through her site that shows off all types of gorgeous styles and interviews or through the meetups where sheâ€™s had women come in droves through all sorts of CRAZY Chicago weather/storms.
While at the event, everything from cakes to earrings to shoes to a haute dress could be purchased from the vendors who were all small black businesses generally run by natural haired divas. I seriously didnâ€™t know which way to look half the time, as everything was so colorful and calling out to my credit card; two stand outs for me were the t-shirt/accessories vendors of So Hye and Chris-Tia, author of Thank God Iâ€™m Natural. So Hye manufactures awesome sparkly Soul Sista earrings/t-shirts along with other accesories and people have been practically trying to snatch them from my ears when I wear them! Definitely a good look 😉
Chris-Tia Donaldson is the Harvard educated natural hair guru who wrote a top-notch book about going and staying natural, creating a great regimen (along with recipes for hair care items), and ideas for styles. Sheâ€™s super down to earth and took the time to answer some hair questions that you all may find interesting:
Vonnie: What made you want to write Thank God I’m Natural”?
Chris-Tia: I wrote Thank God Iâ€™m Natural (www.thankgodimnatural.com) to help dispel some of the most common myths and misconceptions about kinky hair. Part of the reason it took me so long to let go of my relaxer is because I was so misinformed. Like so many black women living in America, I thought I couldnâ€™t wear my hair in its natural state, because my tresses looked nothing like Alicia Keysâ€™ or Mariah Careyâ€™s. When I came to the realization that I could go natural, I wanted to share all the information I learned about caring for my hair with others. I also wanted to let the ladies know that going natural would not put an end to their career, prevent them from getting a date, or require them to join the â€œmovement.â€
V. How has writing that book changed your life?
C. I never knew that when I wrote Thank God Iâ€™m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair it would be this successful. First of all, writing a book seemed crazy, as I wasnâ€™t the greatest writer when I first set out to work on this project. I wrote legal briefs and negotiated contracts, so my writing had a formal professional tone to it, whereas this project required me to dig deep inside of myself and find my personal voice and tap into my creative side.
I always knew that it made sense to write the book first and then work on the products second, even though no one had done it this way before, but itâ€™s amazing to watch and see how my vision and Godâ€™s plan has come into fruition. I never knew so many people would be so open to this project and would gravitate to it the way that they do. Weâ€™re changing lives all over the world, and Iâ€™m blessed and humbled to be given the opportunity to help women make life-changing decisions.
V. What would you say are the top 3 most important things to remember on a natural haircare journey?
Going natural, and more importantly, staying natural requires patience. Remember this the next time your hair wonâ€™t cooperate or you feel like your natural hair is too short, too dry, not this, not that. They always say anything worth having is worth working for. Going natural is no different. So sit back and enjoy the ride
Anytime I tackle a major project, whether its launching a business in Africa or taking up Indian cooking, I make sure I do my research. Knowing what to expect along the way will definitely help to reduce your stress level and any anxiety you may have when you come across difficult situations. If you havenâ€™t done so already, be sure to pick up a copy of my book Thank God Iâ€™m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair. It has everything you need to know whether youâ€™re transitioning or already natural. You should also feel free to stop by the Hairbrary section on my blog (www.tginblog.com), where you will find articles on everything from the best conditioners for co-washing to trimming your hair at home. As always, if you have any questions, I can always be reached at [email protected].
At Thank God Iâ€™m Natural, weâ€™re not just about encouraging women to embrace their natural hair texture, but living better lives and taking better care of themselves. If you canâ€™t afford to buy organic foods, hereâ€™s my best advice, ditch processed foods entirely, cook more, order take out less, , eat foods with as few ingredients as possible, and finally donâ€™t eat anything your grandmother didnâ€™t eat or wouldnâ€™t recognize. If you follow these basic tenets, youâ€™ll find youâ€™re cutting out a lot of things that had no place in your diet, and you donâ€™t have to spend a ton of money to follow these basic principles for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Again, itâ€™s important to remember that itâ€™s not just what we put on our hair that counts, but we must also be mindful of what we put into our bodies, as well.
V. What were your thoughts on the natural hair meetup?
C. I think its always great when black women are coming together to learn more about hot they can take better care of themselves. It’s also amazing to see so many black women entrepreneurs starting and running their own businesses. I always look forward to the event and can’t wait for the next one.
So there you have it, good people! Black women have started going natural in big numbers lately and through the internet/meetups we are starting to love our tresses as we were born with them. Thereâ€™s so much more information out there than was available for previous generations on HEALTHY hair care as well as organic products, so growing out your hair doesnâ€™t have to be a daunting task, we all can be Black Girls (with) Long Hair. *Hair flip* 😉