I laughed. I cried. I laughed even more. Kim Coles’ Must See Show!

A couple weekends a go, I had the absolute pleasure of checking out Kim Coles’ one woman show titled “Oh But Wait…There’s More!”. I’ve heard of this solo journey into theatre, and truthfully was not at all sure what to expect, but my Nana and I buckled ourselves into the front row of an intimate Oakland theater and settled in for the journey…

The next 90 minutes were filled with a truly authentic, but mostly hilarious glimpse at Miss Kim’s entire life. Aided by visuals projected onto a screen, we enjoyed these amazing anecdotes from throughout her childhood, adolescence and adulthood.


Now before you start thinking this is some sort of stuffy allegory about life, please let me stop you:

This is Kim Coles: homegirl is FUNNY as all hell

No serious, there were points in during the show where I was laughing so hard that tears were spilling out of my eyes. I IRL LOL’ed like 8 times. Maybe more. Case in point:

  • Kim’s recreation of a “motivational speech” by her Puerto Rican Girl Scout troop leader slayed me.
  • Her recounting of her days doing plus size fashion shows at churches had me on the flo’.
  • The extreme measures she had to take when nature called while Bill Cosby was on the phone giving her life advice…I can’t. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.
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    The truly beautiful part of the show, was this underlying theme of growth and discovering one’s truly authentic self. As a 28 year old woman just trying to figure it out , I was completely in awe of and inspired by the lessons learned by Kim herself and then shared with the audience during the show.

    When “Oh But Wait…There’s More! comes through to your tow, please make SURE you get yourself to the theater to see this awesome production by this fabulously talented lady. Next time it comes through The Bay Area, I’ll be there front row and ready once again!!!

    Connect with Kim and make sure you don’t miss a show!!


    Upcoming shows include:

    March 28 – Newport News, Va
    April 25 & 26 – NCCU in Durham, NC

A Man. His Film. Our Hair. A Movement.

Four years ago Chris Rock’s ‘Good Hair’, exposed the realities of the global black hair industry and the dominance of weaves and relaxers. Sure we all had a giggle when Al Sharpton discussed his relaxer and were horrified when sodium chloride melted away an aluminum can. However, I always felt that the film lacked depth when it came to creating dialogue and understanding about how hair plays a role in shaping our identity. To put it simply, Chris Rock just didn’t go there .

Enter: Rhadamés Julián, a budding filmmaker from New York City on a quest to revolutionize how people of color create a sense of identity in a documentary called Follicle. Rhadamés will be traveling the world exploring the concepts of hair and imagery and seeking to define this natural hair movement. Rhadamés (that’s “ra-de-mis”, friends ;D) and I met back in July in NYC and were instantly connected by our shared intellectual passion and curiosity for talking about hair and identity.


I think many of us have been content to read the blogs, attend the shows, use the products and buy the shirts featuring witty sayings and cute afro designs, but there is a lack of collective understanding and exploration as to why this is happening now, why are so many people making this journey and what does it mean? Where Chris Rock didn’t go Rhadamés Julián will and he is hellbent on smashing through the barriers and creating a unified sense of identity.


For those of you who attended my Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora event in July where Rhadamés Julián was a featured panelist, you had the opportunity to experience a taste of the passion and zeal that is driving this film. For those of you who didn’t, well this kid will stop at nothing to get this film done and spread the message through the movement. But enough from me, let’s hear about it from him!

Follicle – Indiegogo from Rhadamés Julián on Vimeo.

What I think is really cool is that he’s making this film via grassroots support, free of any large movie production company controlling the funding and therefore the message.

Which means that none of this can happen without your support! All he is asking for is $1. And while it might sound like an insignificant amount, like it won’t make a difference, it will. Check out the link below and support Follicle!

Back in San Francisco part 1: NARS dishes on make up trends + my gallery debut

Right before leaving for Minnesota I had a pretty full week of exciting happenings in the beauty, fashion, and art worlds I wanted to catch you up on. Here’s a run down:


I nabbed a seat at a Nordstrom NARS make up event featuring live demos of how NARS artistic directors set the trends at Fashion Week in February. It was awesome to see how many of the make up trends I’ve been seeing had originated on the NARS runways of Thakoon, Marc Jacobs, and Rodarte just a few months ago in NYC.

NARS looks from the NYFW runways

A NARS model

While NARS superstar make up artists Janice Daoud and Hank Hoffman gushed over the bold lip and minimal eye, I had my own agenda to pursue: how to do the exact opposite with a bold eye and a nude lip. While I’m always rocking a bold lip in red, orange or burgundy or purple, I’ve never mastered the nude lip. A sheer, pale, demure lip with a dramatic bold eye has been high on my list of things to accomplish so I had the NARS artists walk me through the steps to get there. Here’s how we did it:

  • Start with a huge dramatic sweep of liquid black liner on the top lid, extending the line at a 45 degree angle from the outside corner far beyond the point where you think is ok.  Think: Amy Winehouse (RIP).
  • Using a deep black shadow, retrace the black liner, thickening and softening the hard line.
  • Once you have your desired fill, use remover and a q-tip to shape the cat eye and bring it closer to the corner.  Think: remove 50% of the the Amy Winehouse (RIP) swoop.
  • On the lip, use a pale gold gloss to knock out some of the natural lip color, creating a fresh palette.
  • On top, layer a sheer, nude gloss to finish the look!

I dug the final look.  “THIS is the way to do vintage…a little messy…you never want to be too literal,” explained the NARS mua.  I can’t wait to play with this one, using variations of color especially on the eyes, this summer!

My liner before roughing up with shadow


Posing with Qiana for my final look


The color chart for my final look...see the dramatic eye??

Here are also a few of the hottest trends and tips Janice and Hank shared with us during the event:

  • The hottest lip color right NOW NOW NOW is red orange.  I actually picked this up from NARS a couple months ago and have been LOVING it.  Check it:
  • Use a nude liner on your inner bottom lid to open and brighten a lined eye
  • The strong brow is here to stay!  You heard it here first!
  • Opt for tinted moisturizers over a full foundation.  “It’s like bare skin, but better!”  Layer a shimmer on top for a full illumination and glow!
  • “When in doubt, French it out!”  This was in reference to how to pronounce the product names in the NARS line, many of which are French.   I just thought that it was a good life motto and wanted to share!

Janice Daoud and Hank Hoffman of NARS


The Critical Mass photo show opening went down last Thursday and was welcomed by a huge crowd. My picture, taken by the one and only Miss Gab Herman, was hanging front and center in front of the entry way so there was no missing it! Even funnier was that people kept coming up to me and asking if I was the blogger in the picture….”sure am!!”.

A highlight from the evening was having the event photographer take a picture of the photographer gab taking a picture of me standing next to the picture she had taken of me. Mind blown? I know. #meta




Stay tuned for my second Back in San Francisco post where I talk about the beautiful intersection of trash and beauty as well as the latest fashion innovation that I’m concerned with be the end of me…………….

Style Scoop: Naturals in the ‘Zines

The natural movement isn’t just something we’re seeing on the blogs or even in the streets and stores—it’s something that is catching on EVERYWHERE including the “Beauty Bibles” aka big-name, mainstream glossy magazines featuring the latest and greatest from the world of style and fashion.  I can remember a not too long ago time when I could pick up a glossy magazine and almost every single black woman would be sporting a perfectly coiffed weave, relaxer or a cropped’n’close natural fade.  Today, you can open up the same mags and find a bounty of natural curls, kinks, and coils.  Some are models while others are movers and shakers simply gracing the pages of the mags.  Either way, its a sight that is truly indicative that our movement of texture is not only growing, but THRIVING.  Here’s some snapshots (torn from recent issues of Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire) of natural textures in the magazines that caught my eye!


Lorna Simpson


A Brooklyn-based artist currently working on pieces featuring vintage haircare ads whose work deals with powerful themes of the African-American condition and representation in popular media.  Her work is currently on display at the Studio Museum in Harlem.


Yaya DaCosta

Photographed alongside the two designers of Suno, an Indian-inspired clothing line that draws from traditional Kenyan motifs and patters to create gorgeous multi-textured pieces–the perfect complement to gorgeous multi-textured hair.




Now really, how often do we see Jigga, one of the most well-dressed men in the biz without his signature close cut and shave??  I loved this snap because he dressed up his look for this black-tie affair with a longer-do that shows off his texture that is truly distinctive.  Maybe–just maybe– we’ll see a his’n’hers natural style from this iconic duo!
Continue reading

“…take a look at the shape of this curl…”

Last week I attended an event, scratch that, I catered an event for my cupcake company (L’Oven Kitchen…we can talk more about this later). At the event, I ran into a woman sitting at a desk with a typewriter. When I asked what she was doing, she explained that she wrote poetry by order, as in I could tell her what I wanted her to write a poem about.

Of course, I thought about you.

And the online natural hair community. And curls. And how beautiful of a process it is to go natural.

So I explained as much as I could while she typed away. Here’s the result. I love it and I hope you do too!


For more about the poet, Silvi, or her a la carte poetry service The Poetry Store, please visit her website!

Photographer Gabriela Herman sheds a light on bloggers in their element

Have you ever wondered whats going on on the other side of a blog?  Where the blogger writes?  What kind of computer they use?  What it looks like outside their window?  What they wear when they write?  Brooklyn-based photographer Gabriela Herman has done a artfully beautiful job of answering those questions in an illuminating series called “Bloggers”.  The series has been getting praise all over the world, from bloggers (such as myself) to larger online outlets like Wired.com.

Back in April, Miss Gab was out here in San Francisco and it became my turn to show the world a behind the scenes glimpse of Natural Selection.


Yep.  That’s where the Natural Selection magic happens.  In my bedroom.  At night (or in the very very early morning).  In printed dresses.  With my trusty Mac Book Pro that I’m actually looking at with equal passion and intensity at this very moment.   And now you know.

In her artist statement on the series Gab writes

It is through our screens, these beacons of light, that the world opens up and we become literally linked to one another. I began photographing bloggers with this idea in mind, giving the viewer a peek into their intimate worlds by using their screens as the sole light source. My idea was to start with one blogger and ask them to recommend the next subject from someone on their blogroll. The same way their blogs are linked to each other’s online, the photos would be linked to each other in the series.

By looking at connectivity in this digital age and the ways in which we live and spend our time, this series shows how from these dark corners, bloggers are adding value to and changing the way people interact in the world.


It’s true.  Through the virtual portal of Natural Selection, I have connected with thousands  of people across the world.  We’ve shared dialogue, stories, learnings, memories, and photographs.  Persons with whom I would have never engaged without this blog, a true testament to the power of the internet and of blogging.

The entire series is quite substantial and captures both the diversity of bloggers and their spaces.   Check out the full gallery to see other bloggers in their element.

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For more of Gabriela Herman’s work visit her website or her blog.  Now the question must be asked- when are we going to see a self-portrait of the photographer/blogger herself?

Haute Damn! An Interview with The Damn Salon (part 1)

The Damn Salon.  Heard of them?  You need to.

I first connected with these natural hair style setters back in February at Fro Fashion Week.  During the runway show the Damn ladies set it off with their fierce attitude, sexy confidence, not to mention hair that was both beautifully sculpted and wildly free.  I had no idea who or what The Damn Salon was, but I knew that that they were on a whole other level of natural hair and I had to find out.  And I did, in an e-terview with The Damn founder, Mushiya, who is all that is Damn and so much more.  Read on and come join the world of Damn…



Natural Selection: What exactly goes on at the Damn Salon?

The Damn Salon: Everything!  No seriously everything that makes a women be a women and want to enjoy and exhault her womenness. Hair Styling. Make-up. Fashion. Dress up. Music. Gourmet dining. Lobster, sometime steak, sometimes Salmon. It just depends on the day. Laughter. Tears. Debates. Mental Stimulation. Creation of new long lasting relationships. Networking. Modeling. Confidence Building. Bitch building. Everyone needs a little bit of bitch in them too. The Damn Salon is a getaway, not just  your everyday vacation getaway, but one that brings you back to reality with a new motivation, a new attitude and a new outlook on beauty, self love, and life itself. Most woman that come to the salon, no matter who bad they looked or felt, leave feeling like not only are they the hautest thing in town, but that they can conquer the world, or at least their city.  Image a room full of 9, maybe 13,  maybe 17 women, where everyone is laughing, dining and wining while being pampered, and everyone is just happy. The  Damn Salon’s ambiance is too powerful to be destroyed. One can come in with a bad attitude and immediately be altered and hypnotized with peace. Its not just about hair. Damn is a movement.

NS: I love the concept of The Damn Salon, blending natural hair and high fashion, where did the Damn inspiration come from?

TDS: It was simple and hardly thought out. There is nothing sexier than a women who can confidently and properly where her natural hair. Meanwhile there are so many women who are unhappy on the inside because of how they look on the outside. I knew that a few hours I could take ANY confident-less women and just with a few combs, brushes, and color, use my fashion and beauty expertise to change them on the inside for the rest of their lives.


NS: Can you describe what it means to be Damn sexy?

TDS: To be damn sexy is really in the walk. The walk and posture of a women says everything about herself. Without opening her mouth, her walk can tell you whether she is having a bad day, doesn’t love herself, is a ho, or thinks she is the hautest bitch in town. To be damn sexy is to have a walk that omits poise, class, confidence and a little bit of bitch. It is to wear whatever the hell you want, do your natural hair however the hell you want it and then walk like this is what need to be on the next runway. Sexiness is not really about sexiness. It is about conviction. If you believe you are damn sexy, then so the hell will everyone else.


NS: What advice can you give to readers who are stuck in a style rut?

TDS: This is an emergency. Immediately cease and desist what you are doing and get yourself to The Damn Salon because we perform urgent hair and makeover care.

NS: Can you tell me about your Damn Products?

TDS: Its simple. A lot of the hair and body products out there that claim to be natural ARE NOT NATURAL. Pick up a bottle of whatever. If it contains petroleum, alcohol or mineral oils, just to name a few, then IT IS NOT NATURAL. The above named substances are damaging to your hair and to your skin, as they clog your pores and prevent the moisturizing and beneficial ingredients from penetrating your scalp. The results of such a product leave your skin and hair feeling oily and heavy, but still dry as the oil just sits on top of your skin or your hair serving no purpose at all.


Our hair and body products consist of organic, 100% natural ingredients and are so natural that they have expiration dates.  From our anti-age and anti-stretch mark body butter to our natural hair butter, our poducts contain natural herbs, oils and butters that open your pores, moisturize, and supply your scalp with the nutrition it deeply needs. As a result, it leaves your hair and skin feeling light while making your skin glow and your hair grow. Products can be purchased online via www.thedamnboutique.com.

NS: What is next for The Damn Salon?

TDS: The Damn Salon is preparing for the utmost beauty production that society has ever seen. Yes thats right. The production previewed  to be held in September of this year, will showcase damn in its entirety including damn hair, original damn musique and performances, damn fashion (original pieces created by the designers of damn, damn models and much more. The beauty and fashion industry is not ready. It will make everbody simply utter…. “damn.”



Classy.  Confident.  Haute DAMN!  Stay tuned for Part 2: A Damn Salon visit for a Damn Trim


The Beauty of Different: An Interview with Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks + Giveaway!

There’s a whole wide world of blogs out there and sometimes you come across another one that just plain and simple rocks.  It makes you smile.  It lifts you up.  It inspires.   For me, that blogs was Chookooloonks: a blog about life, love, and the pursuit of all things good in the world that’s chock full of great writing and stunning photographs. After weeks of avid reading, I developed a full out blog-crush and eagerly looked forward to Chookooloonks” daily arrival in my inbox.

Somewhere in there, I discovered that this awesome blogger behind the site, Karen Walrond, had also written a book titled The Beauty of Different. From what I could glean from the descriptions, I was in for a true, inspirational treat that sought to celebrate the innate beauty in everything.



The woman behind Chookooloonks and The Beauty of Different: Miss Karen Walrond

And boy was that hunch right! I sat down and read the book in one sitting, soaking in the beautiful images- both photographic and written- letting them wash over me and settle into my heart. What I loved most was the diversity of people in the book, and how you get a glimpse of their lives and histories in an authentic manner. Even in their portraits, they are 100% real. I mean these aren’t airbrushed and glossy touched up people—you can see their pores dangit! And throughout the book, you get a truly intimate glimpse of  their happiness and pains and joys and struggles, which ultimately lead you to a closer understanding of your own.

The main message of the book is that in each of our individual differences lies great beauty. This concept really resonated with me as a blogger who is dedicated to celebrating the uniqueness of natural hair and I knew that I wanted to capture a piece of this and share it with my readers.

So one morning a couple weeks ago, I interviewed Karen over the phone and had a great conversation with her about the book and beyond. Now, thanks to the awesomeness that is the worldwideweb here it is for you to check out:

Beauty of Different. Interview with Karen Walrond.

I think everyone should read this book.  I really do.  And as I said, I wanted to share it with you, my dear readers, so we’re giving a copy away!  To enter to win, write in the comments what your Different is.  Because no Different is better than another Different, I’ll be picking a winner at random next Monday May 2nd.  Hope you enjoyed to the interview and I look forward to enjoying your Differents!


UPDATE—- contest extended until Friday May 6th.  Keep your Differents coming in!!

Braided Masterpieces (literally. )












I was stunned by the detail and depth of these amazing pieces when a friend showed them to me in Cabinet Magazine.  At first I thought they were photographs, but then realized that they were actual paintings by artist So Yoon Lym.  And not just any paintings, rather LARGE paintings!  I’ve always thought that cornrows were works of art, and the artist really took this concept to the next level.  I connected with her to ask about the inspiration behind and reactions to the pieces and she explained it more artfully than I ever could.  In her own words on her series titled The Dreamtime:

I first became inspired by this series when I started teaching at John F. Kennedy High School in Paterson, NJ in September 2001 up until June 2010.  I loved the many beautiful hair styles of both my male and female students as well as the many students who I would see in the hallways who were not necessarily students I knew.




I would sometimes run after students in the hallway and request that they stop by room 108 briefly to allow me to take a picture of their hair and braid patterns.  I was always pleasantly surprised and pleased that everyone always stopped by and allowed me to document their hair style. All my students if they had an interesting or unusual hair and braid pattern always allowed me to take pictures as well.  I knew I wanted to use these photographs as reference material for a future art project but wasn’t sure what I would do with them until the summer of 2008.

During the 2008-2009 school year, there was a series of art exhibitions that were to feature art educators in the Paterson Public School District, who also made their own artwork at the Passaic County Community College Art Galleries which is also in Paterson, NJ.  I decided to do a small series of acrylic on paper paintings (14″ x 17″) that would somehow reference Paterson as the exhibition title for the 3 person exhibition I was in would be titled: Inspiration: Paterson.



The response as far as art submissions I made following this exhibition to other exhibition opportunities was so positive, that I decided to work on a larger scale and larger body of hair and braid pattern paintings, still using acrylic on paper, but this time on 22″ x 30″ paper.



I would print out a photograph of the hair and braid pattern I am interested in painting, usually having to lighten the photograph considerably, so that I can see each distinct pattern. I begin with a light pencil drawing on the 22″ x 30″ paper.  I then spend many hours building up the painting with acrylic paint, using the acrylic paint almost in a watercolor technique.  Since, correcting a mistake is difficult especially with works on paper, I always try to work when I  know I am able to concentrate and focus 100% without any distractions.

People always comment on the fact that the paintings “look like photographs”.  I have never particularly been interested in the genre of photorealism in painting.  I think of my paintings as being “naturalistic” as opposed to photo realistic.  To depict and render hair and the various intricate hair patterns as authentically as possible via the medium of painting, I felt that a certain degree of natural representation was important for this particular series.

All the hair and braid patterns I have documented over the course of 8 years are all patterns that were found on students.  I would ask various students who made and/or created these designs and/or did the actual braiding or styling?  They would tell me it was either a family member, a friend they knew,  a family friend, etc.  But they were all done by either girls or women….girls and women in their lives.  I view these hair and braid patterns as a kind of living craft form.  Although I was a fine arts painting major in both undergraduate and graduate school, I have always had a great interest in the myriad of art forms that are often classified in the realm of “crafts”: such as knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, weaving, embroidery, dyeing techniques, paper cutting, paper marbling, knotting, etc.

Chaquasha (with twists not braids)

Most all these hair and braid patterns were not created in any kind of formal hair salon, except perhaps for some of the female hairstyles.  From the many exhibitions I have shown these hair and braid patterns at, I have received a wonderful response and appreciation for these paintings particularly from art viewers who are of African-American heritage and from other practicing artists as well as various curators.

Perhaps one of the most touching responses I have had was from a local reporter of African American ancestry who met me at the Paterson Museum when I had a solo exhibition of this hair and braid pattern series, back in November 2010.  Her eyes welled up with tears and she told me that when she looks at my hair and braid pattern painting series, she feels pride.

I was fortunate to have gotten Rocio Aranda-Alvarado, who is an Associate Curator at El Museo del Barrio in NYC to have written the text for my hair and braid pattern series.  Although I have a artist statement for this series, I feel that she expressed more beautifully and eloquently all that I wanted to achieve with this series:

Aren’t these amazing, y’all??  Now the cool part is that I couldn’t even show HALF of the series in this post.  I highly recommend you check out the rest of the series as well as the So Yoon Lym’s website!


In my Sunday procrastinations, I came across this awesome blog Fly and accompanying webstore I Love My Hair where I found a painting that really pinpoints my single regret that I’ve experienced in going natural:  NOT DOING IT SOONER!

Love the piece, love my hair, and I just wanted to share!

Happy Sunday!

© 2009 I Love My Hair

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