#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!

Natural Hair Update-2018

So, I would say its been about 2 years since I have transitioned and completely gone natural (although I haven’t been strictly counting) and overall, I have to say that I have enjoyed it thus far!

Compared to my last post about me not really enjoying the process of taking care of the hair and only enjoying the aesthetics of it, I think it’s safe to say that I am getting the hang of the taking care process. It took me some time to get used to and actually learn about what my hair likes and what my hair doesn’t like. One thing I’ve learnt about myself is I guess I don’t like change that much, so once I find something that sticks and works, I stay put until I find an alternative that is more beneficial to the growth and strength of my hair

In terms of products I have stuck to the Crème of Nature Argon Oil shampoo to wash my hair as I enjoy how it makes my hair feel clean and fresh, additionally, it being a sulphate-free shampoo makes me sure that it is not going to be stripping away the essential oils that my hair needs. With regards to conditioners, I haven’t found my staple product yet, but I find myself switching between Tresemme’s Moisture Rich conditioner and the ORS Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner. They both give great moisture to my hair which my hair seems to like a lot. As for my daily creams I am strictly sticking to pure shea butter that is straight from the motherland of course – Ghana, and my Jamaican Black Castor Oil. I find that these two works extremely well in moisturising my hair and keeping it nourished in protective stylings.

In terms of protective styling, I find braids, wigs or any styles where my ends of the hair are tucked in the best way for length retention and an effective way for keeping moisture into the hair. I do tend to have a bad habit of leaving my braids in for a really long time – like a really long time, but I always keep my hair in until I have planned the next hairstyle that I want. But even though it is bad, it keeps my hair growing and it keeps it protected away from harsh weathers that you can get when living in the UK.

So, I would say that my hair once its been blown out reaches my shoulders, however the back of my hair grows way longer than the middle or the sides, so I’m not sure of the actual length of my whole head. I do plan to straighten my hair during the course of the year, to see how long it has actually grown, and so I can continue measuring onwards from there whenever I take out my hair from a protective style.

And that’s my little hair update over! I really enjoy writing these as it allows me to see the progress I have made with my hair.

 

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 !

 

Don’t Touch My Hair…

In the words of Solange Knowles herself, hair has become one of the most mentioned and most speculated topics of the past year 2016. Whether it’s about the numerous amount of natural hair gurus that are growing in numbers on YouTube or the amount of flawless transformations of weaves and braids on Instagram or simply the fury one can get over their hair rights in South Africa, leading girls as young as 13 to protest over their right to afro hair in Pretoria. Whatever it is, hair has just become more than a thing that grows out of your scalp. It’s become a symbol of personality, of identity and of self representation.

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Well for me hair has become, a more realised quality of mine as I usually didn’t really care much about it. I was always relaxed as a kid and honestly I had no choice of being to be honest. I guess mum didn’t have the time to detangle and co wash and all the other 1000 things you have to do when it comes to natural hair! On the other hand I guess I also didn’t see a problem with it. It was my hair after all whether straight or kinky and it was coming from my head so it must be mine. Or was it really ?

It wasn’t until 2014-2015 that I discovered girls were going natural. Simply abstaining from relaxers, texturizers, perming creams or whatever you want to call it! and simply letting their fros spring out and live it’s life to its fullest. Why ? I asked why was it such a big and controversial subject for girls to not relax their hair. After all it did help with looking after it. It was easier to comb and more appealing when styled. I then realised that I just wasn’t being me in a sense and was transforming my hair to avoid the tag of being “nappy headed” as they say… When researching more into this fascinating subject ,  I found out that there was a time  where girls wanted to appreciate themselves more and present themselves as black and beautiful human beings with nourishing hair. They saw themselves as having hair that was European looking and saw themselves as trying to  assimilate to the idea of long straight hair being the “beauty” of society or having straight flourishing hair, as that is what ” seemed better looking”. Honestly speaking. That hit me.

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It didn’t affect me that much as I thought what does my hair have to do with my identity? But I certainly did understand the affect it had on girls and not embracing simply the hair that grows out of their head. It’s God given and it’s natural – so why do we have to manipulate it to fit a certain societal standard? I then looked at thousands of youtbers that were going along transitioning and big chopping and thought hmm this is cool, I could do this loool. So there I went transitioned for 2 years and finally big chopped in 2016. It was a pretty good decision simply because I love the way my natural hair grows and my goal for this year is to continue to let it grow whilst inspiring more people who are afraid to wear their natural hair out in its real form.

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Hair has become more than pieces of strands that grow out of your scalp every now and then. Think of it as your child. You clean it, nourish it, make sure its well looked after and I guess you get angry when it disobeys you ha ! But its become a movement and a spiritual walk with ones self. A girl or maybe even a boy  coming to terms with their natural state and accepting themselves for the way that God had created their hair to be is something moving and self satisfying.

Well, that’s my story…

Photo Credit : Lizzie Lauchlan