#ESSENCEINTERVIEWS 3

Welcome back to another Essence Interview!

Today’s post consists of me speaking with the lovely Laila, also known as FusionofCultures on YouTube. Her videos range from showing lovely tutorials of rich and bold hairstyles to sharing useful tips on managing all types of hair, whilst bringing positivity and female empowerment to her channel. In addition, she has recently become a business owner, launching her brand Wild Seed Botanicals in 2018, a skincare brand that focuses on vegan products, bringing benefits to the skin, hair and most importantly spiritual wellbeing. Since I haven’t spoken about my hair journey for a while here, I thought it would be great to bring Laila on here to share some tips, and also share her experience with her brand, for any young entrepreneurs who would like some start up advice!

  1. What made you want to be a part of an online platform such as YouTube?

    For me, it’s slightly different to what it is now. When I originally joined YouTube, it was just a video hosting platform and people used it to upload content and videos for their family members to see. It wasn’t necessarily a destination or a search engine as it has become now. For me I initially joined so I could do just that- to have the link to share with other people. I used to be part of an online community called Keep It Simple Sister (KISS), and this was a platform for black women to come from all around the world and share their hair tips, or healthy hair journeys. I was relaxed back then and when I decided to transition, a lot of people were asking me how you are achieving your hairstyles? you should make videos! That is exactly what I did, I would make videos just so I could share the link within that platform and then overtime it started to grow and then I decided to turn it into a channel, just a destination where everyone could come and see the content that I had been uploading.
  2. What has been the biggest lesson you have learned from YouTube?

    YouTube has definitely instilled a mentality of – there is nothing you can’t achieve or can’t have if you put your mind to it. It has made me bold in my approach to life in my career path that I took initially and my career path that I am on now. It has installed that mentality of being entrepreneurial. I don’t think I would have been that if I hadn’t started a YouTube channel.
  3. In 2019, it’s fair to say a lot of women have made the choice to go natural, do you think it’s due to women like you who can educate on haircare or has it become a trend to do so, so people just follow?I’ve had conversations in the past as to whether being natural has become a trend, and for us to be here now in 2019 still asking that question, it’s already been dispelled. It cannot be a trend as it is still happening. Even if it started out as just a trend, trends do start awareness and awareness creates change. So, something that may have been in the beginning a trendy thing to do, has now created long lasting impact within our community which was very much needed. Not that going natural defines your blackness, or defines you as a black women or man, however it does feed into changing the narrative of self-hate. As much as we try and deny it and as much as we don’t want to admit it, for a very long time, our natural hair or the way it grows on our head was seen as something to be ashamed of. Something that needed to be changed, something that was ugly and wasn’t beautiful and now that narrative has changed. I’ve witnessed people that I started out this journey with, being relaxed and changing to become natural and now their children have become natural,, it’s changing generationally and we talk about generational wealth a lot- and it’s not necessarily always about money, but it’s about building economies, building communities and shifting paradigms and I feel like the natural movement has done and surpassed that at this point.
  4. 4. Do you think women who aren’t relaxed feel a certain pressure from the natural hair community? 

    It could be that they do, within any community online, especially, it could be that there are certain agendas perpetuated and pushed in that natural hair community which we can’t hide from. There are people that do have a certain notion about what it means to be natural and they push that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a certain pressure from non-naturals by naturals. If you dissect within the natural hair community, there are hierarchies even within the natural hair community unfortunately and certain types of naturals even feel that their type of hair isn’t good enough, and they may feel a certain type of pressure to have their hair look a certain way or be a certain way. I think with any other community, there are so many issues internally, that effect those in it and those around it and those who have a certain proximity to it.Coco Oat Bath Milk - Wild Seed Botanicals

How has the journey been with Wild Seed Botanicals so far?

It’s been amazing! it’s been fulfilling, eye-opening and also very difficult. I think that’s the one thing we fail to talk about on the journey, or on anything. If you start something new, or anything that is not intrinsic to you, something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to you, it can be difficult. On the same side it’s slightly like a dichotomy as although it has been difficult it has been one of the most fulfilling things, I have decided to do in my life to date. I am very proud of it, to turn 30 and to lookback and see the idea that I had, something that wouldn’t of even been confident to move forward with, I took a leap and I did it and I couldn’t be more prouder. And if the business was to fail tomorrow, I would still feel extremely proud of myself that I did it. There are so many people whose dreams remain nothing but dreams. To know that I have actually tried it and gave it everything, makes me proud of where I am and who I’ve become.

Do you feel pressure to compete against other online brands from influencers e.g. hairlines, clothing lines, cosmetic lines etc?

Not necessarily. I believe we have started to move into an age, where I like to participate in a new age of collaborative effort. For me when I see for example other black women that are now entrepreneurial or starting their own business- I never see that as competition I see that as progress. For me, if they win then I also win. If they are able to break through glass ceilings, that means there is a possibility that I could do the same and vice versa. So, in that sense I don’t see anyone as competition, and I don’t feel pressure to compete with other people that have opened their own businesses or anything like that, however as a business, you have to have a certain level of strategy moving forward. One thing that I say to my current intern, when we are online and following brands within the same industry or niche as us, you see these brands as competition only because they are aspirational, following people that are aspirational allows you to strive to be your best, move forward and see something or understand the processes of how the industry works. So, we do have competition – it is business and that is how competition works, but in a broader sense and overarching sense I am more open to seeing a collaborative effort then I am about individuality.

What would be some tips you would give to a young person in starting their own business?

First tip- you need to have a vision that is extremely strong- something you can literally feel tangibly in your mind. You see it, you know what it feels like once you achieve it and you need to visualise every single one of these things because the journey is never easy. Being able to see that vision clearly will keep you moving forward and will stop you from throwing in the towel.

Secondly, unless you feel passionate about it, don’t do it. The passion is the other element that will keep you going and will help you to wake up in the morning, it will fuel and motivate you. There are things in the world that can inspire us but only you can motivate yourself, if you are not passionate about something, it is very hard for you to achieve it.

Finally enjoy the journey, at each stage that you achieve something, you always have to acknowledge it and celebrate every single win, and celebrating the small wins is what will make the times that seem difficult, easier as it would remind you- if I could overcome this, then I could do the next thing! 

CHECK OUT: 

IG: wildseedbotanicals, neffyfrofro
W: wildseedbotanicals.com

Thanks for reading, stay blessed!

All About My Braids Part 2

“Outer beauty attracts, but inner beauty captivates”

Welcome back to a new post readers !

Today I decided to blog about braids yet again! I realised from my last post in February, that there is yet so much to delve into about the topic surrounding braids, yet it isn’t really explored that much. So this post pretty much explains the history and backgrounds of braids and how it has transformed into what it is in 2018.

Looking at the origination of braids, we have to look at Africa, particularly West Africa. In the villages, hair was known to act as a statement. Based on your hair, a person could tell your background, family roots, location and so much more information about you just by the styles and the presentation of your braided hairstyle.

This is why when the Trans Atlantic slave trade occurred, many women’s heads were shaved for sanitary reasons, meaning they lost a part of their heritage and identity.

However as slavery ended around the 50’s, the black power movement’s in America stemming from the civil rights movements encouraged a “Black Consciousness” out of black women to recognise their roots and their hair as being just as acceptable as the typical European style.

So, in comparison to 2018, where braids are appreciated even more than ever! Why are we still talking about them? The true fact is, that deep down oppression of braids still occurs today. I spoke on a previous post about the topic of Cultural Appropriation and how trends and lifestyles typically known to be created by black people are adopted by another culture. Although it may not be out in the open, it still exists.

Braids are no longer seen as something used for portraying an identity, rather it is used for styling and social media purposes. Which isn’t necessarily a negative thing, however it can mainly be misinterpreted as a muse to boost social media followings on pages. Again, isn’t a bad thing, as it is showcasing the many talents of hairdressers around the world. So I guess it is at a point where it is neither negative or positive. Views on the purposes of braids are completely subjective.

I believe it is up to us as older women to not only educate the younger generation about their roots but to encourage them to recognise it as their original identity, stemming back from centuries. I guess because it is what’s in fashion alongside other styles such as wigs and sew-ins, but at the end of the day it is nice to know where your heritage come from.

So this concludes my post about braids and it’s origins. I hope to research more about other African cultured items and trends that are valued at such a high standard like it is today. Until next time!

(All research used for this post is credited to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_l0rEJq1_s)

All About My Braids !

B R A I D S

I can go on and on about braids ! The way they look, the various styles, taking care of them , the benefits and the downsides that come with them ! Honestly braids have been a part of me for as long as i remember and I believe they will be apart of me for as long as my hair continues to grow out of my head !

Now I wish I had a picture of me as a child to show you that I’ve been wearing braids ever since I was a little kid, unfortunately I don’t … but the main point is that I have been wearing braids ever since I started Reception at school. Back then I didn’t know much about hair – I simply let my mum take care of that for me , all I cares about was playing around ! But it has been a style that I was used to ever since I was a kid and at almost 19 years of age I still wear braids to this day.

Below is a throwback picture of when I had my Jumbo braids ( braids in a big size), I feel like i wear braids whenever I want to give my natural hair a break ( this is probably during winter time) or whenever I go into exam season ( as I don’t have time to style weaves or my real hair). It is really convenient for me in terms of saving time and making life easier, it also benefits my hair as it acts as a protective hairstyle by keeping my ends in.

Over the years, I guess with the prominence and rise of Instagram and other forms of social media, the transformation and the emerging of new braiding trends has increased ! From Crochet , to Locs, to Fulani, to Lemonade braids … the list goes on and on. I guess I was always used to strictly black braids or twists , which I still am used to, however I began experimenting more with what I could do to my braids. For example, I added grey colour to my braids back in 2016. This was the first time I had tried experimenting with colour and I absolutely loved it, especially since i’ve always been cautious with how colour would look on me, so I usually just stick to what I know which is black.

Braids have become so universal that even men are wearing some, which isn’t a problem, however it is been a drastic change from traditionalist viewings of braids which was specified for females only. The versatility of braids has elevated over the years and it has been great to feel apart of what everyone is used to.

So to conclude, this is just a short post about my thoughts on braids and what they mean to me. I would love to go in depth behind the history and the transitions of braids, but that could be done in another post otherwise this one would be pages long ! Overall I think braids are a perfect and beautiful style for anyone who wants to try something new with their hair, no matter where you are from !

My Natural Hair Journey – Do I Regret It ?

Although I haven’t been strictly counting since I stopped relaxing my hair , I would say its been 3 years since transitioning and 2 years since doing my big chop (transitioning is where you stop relaxing you hair and allow you natural hair to come in, big chop is when you cut off all your relaxed hair and ends to allow your natural hair to grow )

So how has my journey been so far, and do I actually think I made the right choice by going natural or was it all just a big mistake ??

Well I guess I will just put out all the negatives first to end on a high note, this natural journey hasn’t been all that easy. I’ve had to learn so many methods and ways of keeping my hair with such a busy schedule of school and friends. I honestly do miss my relaxed hair as I was a big fan of pony hairstyles, leave outs with weave and just being able to have my hands run freely through my hair. The major lesson I have learnt is that going natural is hard, hard , harrrrrd , hard work. It takes a lot of effort and work with natural hair as you have to try many products and styles to see what and what it doesn’t like. It literally is like a baby to you, it’s your job and your responsibility to take care of it

I wouldn’t say its much of a burden or annoyance, however I realised it takes up a lot of work and honestly I really don’t have the amount of time I wish to spend on my hair, that’s why the majority of the time it’s in protective styling such as braids, twists or under a wig, just so it is hidden away from the outside world I guess lool.

Well enough of the negatives, let’s look at the positives-

First thing is I feel like I have joined a family! , with all the natural hair gurus here on YouTube I feel as if I have connected spiritually with them in a way that can’t really be explained. This year I really wanted to find out my identity more and appreciate my natural self. I had already written some posts on this (Embracing your culture post and Don’t Touch My Hair post) which can be found on my blog here. I get a great feeling once I take out my braids and see how much my hair has grown naturally, and I get to connect with other natural girls to share tips on what products to use or what tricks to use to improve my hair growth, this has definitely been a benefit for me

Also I’ve come across many staple products that have helped me tackle this 4C hair of mine that enable me to manage it well. One being my Shea Butter straight from Ghana, making sure that it isn’t processed and it hasn’t got any other ingredients inside it. I use this as a moisturiser after wash days and also to help keep my hair soft and easier to tackle. This has definitely been a favourite product of mine so far

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As well as essential oils to help with hair growth, one being Jamaican black castor oil which really helps with edge growth and scalp care. Not so keen on the smell of it though, but it’s not too daunting and it can totally be concealed with a good smelling cream or spray. These two products really do it for me as I don’t like to bombard my hair with all these products so I make it simple and neat at all times.

So overall , do I regret going natural ? Not really, it’s hard but I wouldn’t want to go back to where my hair was in terms of its volume and its health. I have to get used to the needs my new hair has, just like with any change. So far I am loving and enjoying it to the fullest ! And I would encourage anyone considering going natural to just take the plunge and do it, Best experience of my life yet.

Thanks for reading !