*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
S: Peace! My name is Stephanie Nnamani, but I publish under the pseudonym teff, THE don or Teff ‘the don’ Fonzarelli. I live in New York and I am the Expressionist. Expressionist is a term I use to identify my various artistic talents.
How long have you been natural?
S: I’ve been natural for a little over 5 years now.
How and why did you transition into natural hair?
S: Towards the conclusion of my senior year in high school in 2007, I was amid recovering from surgery. I was diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid gland less than a year before. A consequence of the hormonal imbalance is the thinning of hair. Shortly after the surgery, the thickness in my hair had restored. I had quite a lot of growth and felt less and less inclined to retouch it. Before I knew it, 3 months had gone by without a touch-up; that’s when I did my first official big chop. I did it myself. I chopped off the permed ends and got braids immediately after in the Summer of 2007. I have three older sisters, 2 of which were natural at the time, so the transition didn’t seem too out of reach. Felt great, actually.
I wore braids for the next two years, applying hot-oil treatments between each interval. In April of 2010, I believe, I did another chop. Then I got my first, only, and last sew-in. As annoying as it was, it was very much conducive to hair growth. Like, dramatically. Unfortunately, I sustained a viral infection on the left side of my head, which resulted in hair loss. The scantiness was evident, and heavily contrasted against my then thick mane. I tried to have patience and wait for the hair to grow and even out the rest of my hair’s length, but that failed. I had always wanted to wear my hair short since 2004, 2005 maybe. I saw this as a chance and took it. If only I had known of the wonders of Jamaican castor oil then.
In September of 2010, I got my hair cut into a high-top fade with a diagonal tail trailing in the back towards the right side of my head. A month or so later, I got it partially bleached at a hair salon in Queens — the same hair salon/barbershop where I got it cut initially. It’s called The Legendary Hut and their staff is comprised of hairdressers who literally live up to that said name. I would recommend them to anyone. But I digress. It was such a rebellious move at the time. And that very rebelliousness extended itself into my poor care for my hair. No deep-conditioning treatment nor hot-oil treatments nor moisturizing regimen whatsoever. Eventually, my hair gave in to the dryness induced by the chemicals in the bleach and began to break. Lucky for me, I had a good amount of new-growth, so I fell back to my go-to protective style — box braids.
What are your must-have products for shampooing, conditioning and styling your hair?
S: Ah! My hair regimen knows no solid structure at the moment. See, I’m still in the experimental phase — trying to figure out what my hair Loves best. Right now, I’m using Organix Renewing Moroccan Oil products — shampoo, conditioner, deep-conditioning treatment and curl-defining cream, and so far, so good. My hair absolutely loves olive oil, so I use it often. When I twist my hair, I use either virgin olive oil or Argan oil, Organix Intense Curl Cream and sometimes, Kinky Curly Knot Today Leave-in Conditioner.
Tell us about your hair color?
S: The front is black accentuated with blonde tips. The blonde is the remnants from when I had my hair previously bleached. The color did not change the texture of my hair as much as constantly having it in a protective style did. I know how to braid, so during intervals where I would have new-growth, I take the braids out, co-wash and re-braid it. I repeated this process for over a year, not aware that my hair would adapt and grow accustomed to being stretched. This is the longest my natural hair has ever been in the 5 years I’ve been natural. Considering I tend to cut it often.
What is your signature hairstyle?
S: My signature hairstyle has got to be just about everything following going natural — the high-top fade, bleaching it and wearing braids. Especially the bleached high-top. At the time I did it, folks were not accustomed to seeing a woman with it. Shortly after I had it done, a lot of my audience felt prompted to get theirs done as well. I am very much versatile in the manner that I wear my hair on a day-to-day basis whether it be my own hair or braids.
Did going natural affect your style choices at all?
S: Yes and no. Yes because like most it amplified my sense of self and confidence. No, because I think that aspect of my personal growth was inevitable. Wearing my hair natural just sort of…expedited the process. I am grateful for that.
How would you describe your personal style?
S: Eclectic eccentricity. I don’t fit into a mold. My day-to-day style varies depending on my mood. I am a person of quality; I will award more attention to quality and fit over designer labels.
What are the three favorite things in your closet?
S: Three favorite things? I like to think I don’t have any favorites. I love ’em all equally. Sometimes.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
S: There’s several: