*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
J: My name is Jahla and I live in Olympia, Washington. I’m an artist and I own a small screen print business called Le BayBay based in Olympia.
Rainbow, Party, Pop best describes my style, and I use fabulous finds as my canvases to create unique pieces of wearable art. I vend the clothing I print at indie arts & craft events, mostly around the northwest. I also have an Etsy shop.
Why did you make the decision to go natural?
J: Growing up, I’ve always been encouraged by my mom, family and friends to keep my hair natural because my hair is really curly. I’m from a mixed family and everyone in my family has curly hair so there wasn’t ever pressure on me to use a relaxer. The first 13 years of my life my mom braided my hair to keep it manageable. When I started taking care of my own hair there were a lot of awkward years filled with wacky, misguided hairstyle attempts and hair gel. Ultimately, I was afraid of what my hair would do without my permission.
When and how did you transition into natural hair?
J: In 2008 after frying and dyeing my hair repeatedly, I relaxed my hair for the first time and I immediately regretted getting rid of my curls. Actually, at the time I didn’t know anything about relaxers and was devastated (and embarrassed at my ignorance) upon finding out the effects were permanent. December ’08 I decided without a doubt, it was time to start fresh. My mom took out the clippers and gave me and my little brother the same ¾” haircut.
In what ways (if any) has going natural affected you?
J: Watching my hair grow back into an untamable, massive tree has been amazing; my confidence has grown with every hair growth stage. I had no idea I could grow a huge Halloween store wig and I love it! Letting my hair curl the way it wants to curl without any styling products or artificial color has been extremely liberating, and a relief that nature is on my side!
How would you describe your hair?
J: I’m a jet-brunette. My hair is extremely thick, soft, and the curls range from large ringlets to tiny corkscrews and double helixes. The days I shower my hair is tame, mostly ringlets like a Slash, 80s rocker wig. By day three the curls are looser and form an afro.
What is your regimen?
J: My hair is almost unmanageable and I only brush through it once a week while I’m in the shower. I can’t get a brush through it unless it’s under running water. I only use conditioners/shampoos for curly and natural hair, like Motions or Pantene. I also like Shea Butter moisturizers for deep conditioning, and Johnson & Johnson’s no more tangles to re-curl frizz. I always let my hair air-dry to prevent heat damage and my hair dries quickly on its own anyway. Honestly, I’m still getting to know my curls and still have a bit to learn about natural hair care.
What mistakes have you made with your hair that you’ve learned from?
J: Besides dyeing and relaxing, my biggest mistake was waiting so long to cut my hair to get to know my fro. I’m from a predominately white area of the US and as a kid I was concerned I’d stand out uncomfortably. Now I’m grown and I’ve learned that my lack of confidence in the unknown and myself only held me back. Everyone I’ve encountered loves a healthy head of natural hair, including me! Especially me.
What’s the best/most effective thing you do for your hair?
J: My hair loves a deep conditioning. After a shower I keep in the conditioner, braid it or put it in a bun and keep it in over night. My hair also responds well to periodic hair trims, one-a-day vitamins and fish oil supplements. I generally avoid styling products (personal preference), heat and picking at tangles when my hair is dry.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
J: My art blog (includes links to all my online endeavors): http://jahlaluv.blogspot.com/. My tumblr (ft. my hair portfolio, or know as my hairfolio): http://brojahblahblah.tumblr.com/.
Anything else you want to add?
J: Rock your natural hair. You will love yourself for it and everyone else will too! Whatever you decide, confidence is the only key. Love, accept & respect what you’ve got because there’s no one else like you, and you are truly beautiful.