Where do you live?
O: I currently live in Chicago, Illinois. However, I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. I am a jewelry designer/ceo of King Onye Designs (www.kingonye.com) and a community organizer for The Others Art Collective. My work primarily revolves around event planning and finding creative ways to promote social justice through the art world.
Why did you go natural?
O: I had always been concerned with the way in which European beauty standards are enforced upon women of color. As a Sociology/Political Science major at Roosevelt University I got the chance to study the historical reason for hair straightening and skin lightening cream. I would definitely say that understanding how oppression effects body image influenced my decision to do the big chop.
How did you transition into natural hair?
O: I did the big chop about 2 years ago when I moved to Chicago in the middle of winter. I had always admired the grace and beauty of African women who rocked fades, in a sense I wanted to challenge myself to have that level of confidence without any hair. It definitely taught me how to appreciate my face. The first thing I did after getting my head shaved was walk to the downtown Sephora where I learned how to better accentuate my bold facial features. It was without a doubt one of the best days of my life.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
O: It has definitely made me much more aware of the flaws within the beauty industry. My natural hair journey has allowed me to be more political in terms of advocating for equal representation in the fashion world and encourage activism in the modeling industry. I think its important that women of all races begin to not only discuss body image but work for solutions to issues such as colorism, anorexia and hair shame. As someone who has photo shoots for her own jewelry line, I make sure to have natural hair models of all shades present.
How would you describe your hair?
O: The strands of my hair are very fine, yet my hair is very thick. The longer it gets the more it begins to surprise me in terms of changing coil. I currently rock yarn braids. I learned to do them myself via youtube instructional videos. This is my favorite protective style so far.
What is a brief description of your regimen?
O: I finally realized after a year and half of naturalness that my hair works best when I stick to one simple product. I’ve been mixing castor oil, water and olive oil in a spray bottle and just spraying it on every day. Since my hair is in yarn braids I’ve tried to keep it extra moist during the summer.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
O: My biggest mistake with my hair has been forgetting to moisturize it. My entire life I’ve given much more attention to my makeup than to my hair products. I suffer from laziness when it comes to my scalp. During the winter I did not make enough effort to keep my hair well moisturized during the harshest months in Chicago and it began to fall out, this lead me to rock yarn braids.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
O: Check out my “street regal” jewelry line and online shop at www.kingonye.com. I have a variety of feather earrings, vintage inspired hand bags and signature pieces made with authentic West African brass. The website has a link to my Twitter page. I am also on Facebook at King Onye Designs.