M: Amber. I live in Nashville, Tennessee. I am a college professor, live event producer, and I’m about to start the Aveda Institute in May.
What is your style philosophy?
M: I’ve pinned my style philosophy to Afroechic (chic not chick). My style tends to be a lot like my hair as well. The sky is the limit, but with everything I wear I try to pay homage to my history, my ancestors, to black folks in some way. I love bright vibrant colors and pattern mixing. I think more than anything my style philosophy is about not being afraid to explore styles and fashions grew from the African Tradition and not just European Traditions. Black is Cool and I try to show that through the styles that I wear. My ultimate philosophy is truly fashion as the ultimate expression of self. If you like it, wear it!
What is the process of deciding what to wear in the morning?
M: Hmmmmm this is a tricky one. Sometimes I just know. Other times I scour the Internet and photos for inspiration. At other times I know there is a specific piece I want to wear and I just go through trial and error until I put something together that is a reflection of me. To me it’s like an artist and her canvas. I may have the initial idea of how I want to feel or what era I want to harken back to. But I never know what the end product will be. I just keep painting till the art reveals itself to me.
How would you describe your sense of style?
M: My sense of style is eclectic. I wear what I want to when I want to. It simply depends on my mood. As I’ve grown and come into my own I’ve realized that I don’t have to be any one thing. I can be them all, and I express that through my wardrobe.
What are the three favorite things in your closet?
M: 1. My African/Surinamese straw hand fans. It’s the ultimate lady accessory and in southern summers you can look chic and cool. 2. H&M Conscious Collection 2010 Recycled Sheer Flower Water Colors Baby Doll Dress that I paid $20 for, but it looks like a million when I put it on. 3. My Sandal Collection. 3 years of living in Southern Cali had its perks!
What are some of your favorite shops/websites for clothes, shoes and accessories?
M: Asos Curve | Zara — H&M | Forever21 | Target | F21 | Akente Express | Fashion to Figure | Rachel Pally | NuBambu | Sole Society | NakiMuli | Etsy | Thrifting | Random Boutiques | Having Pieces Made
How long have you been natural?
M: I had been natural since birth. My mother wouldn’t allow my sister and I to get relaxers until we turned 18. I had a relaxer for about 2 and ½ years in college.
How and why did you transition into natural hair?
M: While I was in grad school my hair was natural, but I was wearing my hair straight for the majority of the time using a lot of heat and weaves and my hair just wasn’t healthy. But I realized it wasn’t just about wanting my hair to be healthy. I was really bothered with why I was so consumed with my straight hair and why I felt my curls needed to be hidden or altered in order for them to be accepted. It finally clicked for me why my mother didn’t allow me to get a relaxer. While growing up I may not have necessarily realized how closely my hair was related to my identity and how much it would help me later on in life in really embracing who I am. I honesty just thought my mom was being the standard unfair mom who was out to take away all of my fun. In those 18 years I did learn how to deal with my hair. I learned how to love my hair. If I had had the wealth of resources that we have available to us now it might have been a completely different experience all together. But I learned how to deal with my hair through trial and error; burnt ears, blue magic pimpled foreheads and all. I literally can’t think of a style I haven’t tried.
The main difference I found between transitioning and when I was a child was that this time it was about mind, body, soul, and the politics behind natural hair for me. I was no longer interested in being lied to by the media, my peers and whoever and whatever else about a European standard of beauty that wasn’t mine to claim in the first place. So in 2009 I transitioned. I’ve big chopped twice since then mainly because I love the style and structure that comes with a TWA, but also because I needed to know that I was ok with my hair at any length, that I could look at myself nearly bald and feel just as sexy as I would if it was down past my behind. Hair has played such a big part of my life and I think it has in most women’s. So currently I am working #1 to become a licensed hairstylist, but I am also working beyond the hair and hoping to bring together a community of women that recognize that as well. While it makes me so happy to see so many women embracing natural hair, I have come across so many women who aren’t really sure why they are doing it or why they did it. I know we all like to get scared when someone throws the word politics behind natural hair but there really is, and in my opinion there really has to be a mental change that happens if you are to be successful. I have also seen a lot of negativity and cattiness within the natural hair community, which to me defeats the purpose. Whether long or short it’s all beautiful. I want to encourage a community of women who can love and complement each other genuinely because they know their own self worth with or without fly hair.
What is your signature hairstyle?
M: I don’t know that I have a signature hairstyle. I love headwraps and turbans. I go through hairstyle phases, but I literally have tried every look in the book. I’m not one to keep a style for too long. I have “pretty shiny thing” syndrome when it comes to hair I am always looking for the next style to try. Right now I am really in love with color, the brighter the better, and I really dig undefined styles that aren’t all about defined curls. Wild, and messy and big!
Describe your styling regimen over the course of the month.
E: I’m not big on shampooing, sulfate free or otherwise. When I shampoo my hair and scalp it feels stripped, period. I may shampoo once every couple of months by using a sulfate-free shampoo, and I water it down in a spray bottle and only apply it to the scalp. I love co-washing. Some of my favs are Curls Coconut Sublime Conditioner, Herbal Essences Honey I’m Strong, Alba Botanica Hawaiian Extra-Rich Coconut Milk Hair Conditioner, and Henna. I also use all of these as deep conditioners; usually adding some essential oils and whatever else I may want to add in. As far as leave-in conditioners and moisturizers I use Fantasia IC Pure Tea Silky Gel Moisturizer, Hydratherma Naturals Daily Growth Lotion (I swear by this stuff and it’s the one thing I recommend to everyone), Aloe Vera Juice with Essential Oils (Avocado, Emu, and Almond), Free Your Mane Hydrating Hair Masque, Shea Moisture Deep Treatment Masque, Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Extra-Moisture Detangler, Shea Moisture Yucca and Baobab Thickening Moisture Mist, and good ol H2O. For styling I use Cantu for Natural Hair Coconut Curl Cream, Design Essentials Twist and Set Spray, Oyin Handmade Shine and Define, shea butter whipped with other products, and any of the Fantasia Gels. To seal and protect, Hydratherma Naturals Growth Oil, Grapeseed Oil (Heat Protection), Emu Oil, Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa Repair and Extend Hair Butter, and my own oil blends.
Tell us about your hair color?
M: Under my yarn braids right now I’m a fading strawberry blonde. After the yarn braids the plan is an ombre purple for spring and summer. My hair is bleached. Any time I dye my hair, I do it myself. I don’t feel it has changed the texture of my hair. The only thing that has changed for me is my moisture regimen is even more extreme now. I haven’t had any breakage and have continued to see growth. I lifted my hair for about 4 months before bleaching and then I bleached every 8 weeks or so for about 6 months. The hardest part for me about having dyed hair is the maintenance.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
M: Yep, if you’re in Nashville please be on the lookout for Nashville Natty’s — Rock the Hair coming summer of 2013. Please follow, share and reach out. We can’t learn from one another if we don’t communicate. If you hashtag you can find me across the web #bespokecurry #nashvillenattys #afroechic #nashvilleeats. You can also find me here: