All Articles Tagged "hair"
Jam-packed schedules for work, school and play usher in fall each year. But how do you change-up your style and look beautiful this season, without the labored styling time? Celebrity stylist Stacey Ciceron, who’s worked with the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Chanel Iman, Gabourey Sidibe, Kimora Lee Simmons and Joan Smalls, tells us how to bring on the fall fab with ease and grace.
True Indian Hair Founder Karen Mitchell Talks Racism, Sexism Within Weave Industry: “It’s A Secret, But Not Really”
Weave has been big business for years now, with new hair lines popping up just about every other month it seems. But as consumers become more savvy about their hair care regimens, looking closely at all products they put in their hair from chemicals to oils, and now weaves, only forward thinking business providing quality options will survive and True Indian Hair is one such success story. Started in 2004, over the past 10 years, founder and owner Karen Mitchell has built a brand of virgin Indian hair that clients stand by, stylists recommend, and celebrities swear by. But how did she do it in an industry wrought with massive competition, racism, and sexism? Check out her story below and her tips for easy weave and natural hair maintenance.
How did you start True Indian Hair?
I was a fashion coordinator and I got to travel to India with my boss to visit factories. While there I realized that Indian hair was starting to be a huge trend, especially for African Americans. Indian hair has been around forever, but it wasn’t such a big deal for us. We were getting package hair and it wasn’t a big deal for us. I started buying a couple packs for myself and I would bring it back and sell to friends and family. About a year later I got laid off from my job and during the hustle I was doing for my hair business, I realized it could be lucrative. I started doing research on large companies who were making millions and some even billions and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m laid off. I could do this or go back to a 9 to 5.’ So I started doing this full-time. I decided I was going to open a store and I opened my first flagship store in Brooklyn and that was in 2005. I’d been selling the hair since 2004.
The weave industry is notoriously racist against African Americans. Has that been your experience?
Being a woman was more of an issue. I found when I started I wasn’t being respected. I wasn’t getting good prices. I wasn’t able to sit down and negotiate the way I wanted to. I was brushed off and they didn’t want to take me seriously. I find that within the virgin Indian hair market, there’s definitely more room for minorities and women to break into it, as opposed to the packaged Chinese, Korean hair market. So, it was a little bit easier. I have friends in the other market and it’s hard. We’re not allowed to sell that hair. It’s literally kept from us. They give us the cheapest brands to sell. You’ll see there are few African American stores that sell packaged hair because it’s kept from us. It’s a secret but it’s not really a secret.
What has growth been like for True Indian Hair during the past 10 years?
Business has grown tremendously. I’m planning to open two more stores within the next year. I’m looking to open a store in New Jersey and one in Atlanta. I have three stores. I ship all over the world. I literally went from being a $100,000 business to being quite lucrative, where I could be considered a millionaire at this point. It’s a great business, but it’s not easy. I see so many people get into it thinking it’s easy. Some people don’t take it serious. I don’t get sleep. I do my research. You have to stay on top of the quality.
How do you handle competition?
I always say ‘Everybody and their mama sells hair,’ I mean everyone! It’s a good thing because the virgin Indian hair market is actually easier for us to break into. A lot of the racism that people experience in other markets doesn’t necessarily exist in this market. The doors are open. You have to have funding and you have to know what you’e doing and love what you’re doing and believe in it. I wear weaves. It’s apart of me and our process when we get the hair is very hands on and involved. We still have a team of people who wash every single bundle that comes into our warehouse and do the standard brushing and pulling to make sure the hair’s not shedding excessively and the wefts are sewn properly; if it’s not we’ll send it back. We all love a quick buck but if you really want a brand that’s going to become something that competes with other brands you really have to become apart of the process.
How has the natural hair boom affected your business?
It’s actually been great for my business because now I get to add additional lines to my business that cater to people who want those natural textures. I’m natural under this [weave]. I love it. Our new collection, the Inspire Collection, has a z curl pattern which is like an afro curl. It’s soft. You can blow it out and wear it straight. It’s still virgin hair so you can color it. It’s great for women — and men. Our Relaxed Straight option is very sleek but there’s some texture to it, which is similar to relaxed hair on African American women so it’ll match that texture very well. And then we have kinky-curly which is similar to a biracial curl. It’s flowy, has a lot more movement. It’s a sexy, bouncy curl.
What inspired the new Vixen collection?
My 34th street location really opened the market to so many other cultures and women. I have a lot of Caucasian clients now and people who are asking for colors that I didn’t have. We started doing custom coloring but that’s a process so I wanted to begin with a line of standard colors and the Vixen collection was born. We have bold which is a platinum blonde; caramel which is a golden blonde; and we have honey which is a lighter shade closer to number 27.
What’s the proper maintenance for True Indian Hair?
If you take care of your hair, it will last six months to one year. If you bleach it it may not last as long because you’re breaking down the hair and it requires more maintenance and moisture. Maintenance is easy. The first maintenance point is to buy your hair from True Indian Hair (laughs). You have to wash your hair every seven to 10 days. What happens with buildup and oils from your own natural hair is it gets into the weave and when extensions are dirty it tends to tangle So wash your hair every seven to 10 days. Use a great moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. The hair is no longer getting nutrients because it’s no longer growing from the scalp so it needs moisture. It’s real hair.
Don’t sleep with wet hair, especially curly hair. You have to let the hair dry. When you sleep with wet hair the strands are just rolling around each other and tangling. Salon maintenance is also important. If it’s colored hair, for you to maintain the hue, you have to use a shampoo and conditioner geared for colored hair. Don’t keep extensions in for more than six to eight weeks. Condition your own hair and trim your ends. I like to tell people to give their hair a break of one to two weeks before weaves. You can use clip-in extensions or ponytails from our line in the meantime.
What separates True Indian Hair from the masses?
The quality. It’s our hands-on approach. Our quality assurance is on point. Our clients love us. The company’s growing and we have great reviews. We value quality first and foremost.
For more on Karen’s line of extensions, check out TrueIndianHair.com.
We’ve all been there. What started out as a good or creative idea in our minds, ended up becoming a hot a** mess on our heads. These stars have experienced the exact same thing, which makes us feel better because at least our terrible hairstyles weren’t splattered all over tabloids.
Beyonce’s every move has been dissected to death so when she changes her hair up, we immediately take notice. And her most recent look has got a lot of us scratching our heads. The “Partition” singer showed up at Paris’s Gare du Nord train station earlier this week wearing what appears to be a long blonde wig with bluntly chopped bangs. Beyonce rocked a similar back when she shot a music video with Lady Gaga. That didn’t stop a lot of people from dragging her on social media after she debuted her new look.
It’s that time of year again, but not everyone seems ready. These weaves look like how we feel about getting back to school. Let’s just hope the rest of the semester goes a little bit better.
The First Day
Remember how long you spent planning your first day of school ‘do? This freshman could have used a few more weeks of summer to plan hers out.
By: Pamela E. Williams
“I can’t be black, fat, and bald-headed.”
This comment was part of a discussion that involved having natural hair and being plus-size. As the words came out of my coworker’s mouth, I had no judgment, but wondered just how many Black plus-size women who are natural feel this way. Even people I admire in the blogosphere who celebrate their own curves — and those of of others — struggle with having short natural hair on a full-figured body. CeCe Olisa of the Plus Size Princess blog once wrote “While, I’m super happy with how they (SistaLocks) turned out, I was surprised that having “short hair” made me feel more vulnerable about my weight. In the past I’ve always added the hair I wanted for my ideal length with braids, weaves, etc. but I never thought about hair as part of my body image until I started rocking my natural hair at its current length.”
And yet CeCe and my friend aren’t the only ones. Being plus-size with short natural hair was something I thought I had resolved, but if I’m truthful with myself it is still a struggle. The quest for bigger, longer hair is a constant for many. Short natural hair on a big girl is not often seen as the ideal of beauty. Look at any fashion/lifestyle magazine and I bet you’ll find at least one that contains an article detailing the aesthetic desires a man has in a woman and I’ll wager again that on said list there will be some reference to long flowing, straight (read: European) hair. I probably don’t need to remind you of the husband who hated his wife’s natural hair who appeared on the Steve Harvey Show. It is no secret that the African American culture has embraced the Westernized standard of beauty, including many of our men.
As a Breast Cancer survivor, I ditched the relaxer in favor of my health and embracing my natural hair as it grew back after chemotherapy. My only problem is that it is taking its own sweet time to grow. In the meantime, I watch as thinner black women rock the short natural styles with ease. Lupita Nyong’o can do no wrong with her hair. Things are not all hopeless, as I have examples of full-figured divas such as Chrisette Michele doing the big chop and Jill Scott as she rocked her TWA on the cover of Essence, but I am sometimes a little self-conscious when I wear my own kinky 4c TWA.
The thought that short natural hair can make a woman appear less than attractive and, dare I say it, less than feminine has presented itself on more than one occasion. I had a little over an inch of hair when I was hit on by a lady at the gas station when I went out with my sister to run some errands and didn’t put on any make-up or my signature statement earrings. After politely letting the lady know that I wasn’t available or interested, she finished pumping her gas said goodbye. My sister laughed until she cried and then questioned flatly if I would now “perm” my short kinky curls. It hurt my feelings at the time, but I realized that this is what many go through.
We are told, or have somehow gotten the impression, that TWAs and other short natural styles will not look good on our plus-size bodies; that they will make us look bigger, or, to some, like a lesbian. If the self-esteem plummets, one may consider grabbing a box of Dark and Lovely, a wig, or some weave, often times to cover those insecurities about our weight. So where did the myth that big girls can’t rock short natural hair styles come from? Felicia Leatherwood, Celebrity Natural Hair Stylist, Educator & Expert believes that this mindset is cultural. In my conversation with Felicia, she said a person can only know what they have been introduced to.
“In America, many in the African American culture are focused on outer beauty. When I travel to Africa all the young girls have short hair like mine. They cut it off there because in some parts of the continent, they don’t want the girls to be focused on beauty, but on education. Here in America we are constantly fed certain images and told that is healthy. I mean you can clearly see their bones and ribs coming through their skin. In Africa the focus is on the inside. When you know what is beautiful about your insides, it creates a confidence that is unmatched. If all the black women who were curvy and considered to be overweight by doctors standards were all confident and just doing themselves that would infiltrate everything else…including their hair and the world would see that. If it was taught at a young age and preached and confirmed, it would become a lifestyle for Black women and our girls of color would grow up differently. Their body imaging would be so different.”
Felicia noted she starts any consultation with her clients by addressing the conversations in their head, where they originate, and why they feel the need to still hold on to those negative conversations. When considering going natural at any size Felicia gives the following advice:
- Locate three photos online that you find attractive; that raise your vibration and take them to a stylist who sees your beauty, gets it, and can break it down. Meaning the hairstylist will say “yeah, this will work. This can definitely happen. I can hook this up, add a little color…” You want somebody that’s going to support your vision of yourself and someone who is going to be honest. So get your photos and get consultations with some of the best hair stylists you can find that you feel can basically execute that look.
- The next step is really up to you. You have to feel magnificent when you look in the mirror. Recite positive affirmations daily. Just like Mary Jane in “Being Mary Jane” — there were Post-it notes all over to keep her pumped –we have to do that.
There is too much chatter from the outside world about how a person looks and you have to go within. If you truly want to be natural, you have one life. You choose what you want, you be that, and be confident in it. I’ve decided to do just that.
Last month I was gushing over the fact that I tried my very first weave and, thanks to the amazing quality of the product from Heat Free Hair, the experience — and the blend of the weave with my natural hair — was incredible. I haven’t updated you on maintenance life since that post, so let me tell you what life is like with this weave: easy!
My routine before I go to bed looks something like this: Flexirod my own hair that’s been left out in the front, gather the weave on top of my head in an upright position, cover with a bonnet. Sleep.
My routine in the morning: fluff weave, spray with a little water, add a moisturizing curl product. Remove flexirods, blend natural hair with weave, apply oil, go.
Wash day routine: Wash, condition, comb through hair with Kinky Curly Knot-Today Leave-in/Detangler, add Beautiful Textures Curl Defining Mousse, air dry.
See how easy that is?
Given how much simpler Heat Free Hair’s For Koils collection has made my beauty routine, I had to let all of you know about their pop up shop that’s happening in Atlanta this weekend. On August 22 and 23, curious consumers will get to shop the signature Heat Free Hair collection and meet the team behind the brand celebs like Brandy, Kandi Burress, Amber Riley, and Tamar Braxton love.
Check out the schedule:
• Friday, August 22 (11am – 7pm) and Saturday, August 23 (9am – 5pm): Multi-Day Retail Experience at the Loews Atlanta Hotel. Wefted hair, clip-ins, and closures will be available for purchase in Heat Free Hair’s three signature textures: For Kurls, For Koils and For Kinks.
• Sunday, August 24 (12pm – 3:30pm): Big Hair & Brunch Event at the Loews Atlanta Hotel, hosted by Heat Free Hair founder Ngozi Opara and author Alexandra Elle
Food, drinks, and hair? You know you need to be there. To RSVP for the pop-up shop or purchase a ticket to Big Hair & Brunch visit:
The petition for the Carters to comb Blue Ivy’s hair has been making news rounds since last month. But that’s not the only out-there complaint that fans have lobbed at their least-favorite stars. From getting Tyler Perry to stop making movies to getting Ciara to stop singing, these are the most ridiculous celebrity petitions that have ever been on file.
“Stop Ciara From Singing”
Ciara and her fans have had a rocky relationship for a while now, but this petition to get Ciara to stop singing seems over the top:
I just signed the following petition addressed to: 2012 STOP CIARA FROM MAKING MUSIC CAMPAIGN.
YOU TIRED OF BACK BENDS? SIGN!
YOU TIRED OF FLOPS? SIGN!
YOU TIRED OF CORNROWS? SIGN!
YOU TIRED OF THIN ASHY VOCALS? SIGN!
So I got my first weave Sunday. OK, technically I did let my old gay neighbor convince me he could do a sew-in back in 2009 but I spent more time cutting those tracks out of my head than I did wearing that mess on my head so, yes, I consider this my first weave.
It’s summer and in case you aren’t aware, the humidity in New York is brutal. I haven’t worn my hair straight in the city since 2011 because by the time I step out of my front door and go underground into the subway I look like I just electrocuted myself. And so, tired of bootleg wash n’ gos, slicked back pony-tails, and braids threatening to leave me on Team #NoEdges, I reached out to Heat Free Hair for some options to beat the heat this year.
I knew about Heat Free Hair from an article on Kandi rocking the new product line on our sister site StyleBlazer and a profile on MN Biz about the 25-year-old genius behind the Heat Free Hair Movement, Ngozi Opara. So, I reached out to her rep who directed me to their website to choose a weft of my choice (after explaining what a weft even was) and I fell in love with the For Koils collection (below).
Heat Free Hair weaves come in three natural textures to match standard hair types: For Koils (3B-3C), For Kurls (3C-4A), and For Kinks (4B-4C), in lengths from 12″-24.” They also offer wigs and clip-ins in the same categories. I didn’t want to get too crazy my first time around so I opted for two 12″ bundles and hoped for the best.
The install process was simple. I went to Celebrity Sew-ins in Brooklyn based on the recommendation of a weave-connoisseur of a friend and was in and out of the chair within two hours.
My biggest fear was not liking the end result because the hair would look unnatural. But that wasn’t an issue at all. What as an issue, however, was the fact that the weave was a dark brown color and the leave-out (my hair) around the perimeter was black and the salon didn’t have any dye. So I was left to my own DUI project.
Equipped with Optimum’s Amla Legend demi-permanent in jet Black, I dyed the tracks myself, ran a little Kinky Curly Knot Today detangler through the hair, as recommended on the tip sheet provided with the bundles, and let the tracks air dry with a few flexi rods to curl my own hair, and voilà.
To be honest, I couldn’t have asked for a better first time. The hair is completely natural looking, feeling, and lightweight, and it blends with my own hair far better than I could’ve ever expected. Plus, in the morning all I do is take out the flexi rods on my own hair, fluff the weave, blend, and go.
If you’re a first-timer like me, you likely have a ton of questions about daily and nightly maintenance, plus the longevity over time so check out the Q&A with Heat Free Hair on the next page. And for those who are ready to take the plunge, good news: Heat Free Hair is gearing up for its first pop-up shop event. Sign up to their mailing list at www.heatfreehair.com to be one of the first to learn the location. What do you think?
Weave can be a wonderful thing, but not if you don’t take care of what’s underneath. At least that’s the lesson we think Instagram’s #noedges is trying to teach.