The BEST moment...EVER!

So I was sitting at my desk preparing some documents to give to my boss for review and my phone would not stop vibrating.  I have it set for just emails and phone calls- the rest of my notifications are off so I'm not distracted.  I look down at my phone and noticed a considerable amount of texts from my amigas but I found it odd because it was the middle of the day (12:46pm to be exact).  As I slid the grid of my iphone, I noticed a tweet from Tracee Ellis Ross. Now, I absolutely LOVE and admire this woman.  I mean I have spent hours of my weekends on the sofa with popcorn watching Girlfriends and taking mental notes of her dope outfits and hairstyles.  Ok ok, back to the point -  I am a TOTAL novice to Twitter and I don't understand it at all.  So, I check my twitter notifications to see what was written and this comes up.

I really thought it was a joke until I checked my e-mail and saw this...

I finally got around to my texts (at this point I was shaking) to read all of the amazing and heartfelt texts my friends wrote - LOVE you guys!  Now with all that being said, I just have to say THANK YOU to Tracee Ellis Ross.  I know everyone has a story but thank you for reading and sharing mine.

XO,

Mel

Read the awesome post written by my curlfriend on http://traceeellisross.com/

*A SUPER BIG GRACIAS to my curlsisters Ana and Denise from Curly Essence for writing such a great article.  I am so humbled!

To the Max!

This is the outfit that I wore the second day in Austin.  It was a huge difference from what I was rockin' to the airport - layers of clothing and boots.  This maxi dress was perfect and super comfy to explore the city.  The weather was absolutely beautiful!  85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.  Oh yeah and no humidity!  Holy happy hair day!

Stay tuned. More pics to follow...

Dress, scarf, sunglasses, bag and shoes:  all Forever 21

Jacket:  Levi's

Primavera por favor

Location: Highland Park

Primavera por favor (Spring, PLEASE)

This has been the longest winter EVER and I can't wait for the warm weather!  So, I just had to recreate a bright day indoors and treat myself to my favorite snacks from back in the day, especially an ice cold Goya Malta.  YUMMMM!

Fun facts:  

  • Chifles plantain chips are made from all natural ingredients and are a healthy alternative to potato chips.
  • They are gluten free! A tasty snack for those that suffer from celiac disease.
  • Chifles is ran by a woman (woooo hooo) and is a certified Women's Business Enterprise.

Photos by:  Maleknaz

Sweatshirt: (similar)  Etsy

Jeans:  Prps

Shoes: Zara

Rings: Wink

Wash Yo Rizos day! Dark & Lovely Anti-Breakage product review

For the most part, you all know that I LOVE the Dark and Lovely Au Naturale anti-shrinkage line.  So when I found out they were launching the anti-breakage products, I was suppppper excited to try it.  

So here we go -  below is 8 day dirty pelo.  

BEFORE

WASHED WITH PRODUCT

 AFTER

Process Time: 1 hour and 7 minutes

Products (l to r):  

Ecostyler styling gelDark and Lovely Au Naturale anti-breakage Root to Tip menderDark and Lovely Au Naturale anti-breakage Strength Restoring conditionerDark and Lovely Au Naturale anti-breakage Tension Release hair wash

Wash:  1X with Dark and Lovely Au Naturale anti-breakage Tension Release hair wash

Condition/Detangle:  Dark and Lovely Au Naturale anti-breakage Strength Restoring conditioner. Finger combed hair from ends to root and rinsed with cold water.

Style:  Coated hair with Dark and Lovely Au Naturale anti-breakage Root to Tip mender and then applied Ecostyler styling gel.

Diffused hair for 9 minutes on low heat.

Seal: (not shown)

Ella's concoctions Quickie Oil for women

VERDICT:  Thumb Up

Pros 

  • The scent- all of the products have a delightful citrusy fragrance
  • After one wash, my hair felt clean and product buildup free
  • The conditioner was thick in consistency which made it easy for detangling
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • My hair felt drier than normal so I had to add more quickie oil after styling
  • The root to tip mender was too thick for my texture of hair (it is fine despite the volume)
  • Significant amount of shrinkage

I really enjoyed trying out the products.  The hair wash definitely lived up to its name - the rizos were definitely squeaky clean. I would use the conditioner consistently because I really liked the slip of it and it was significantly easier to detangle. I can also use it as a deep conditioner as mentioned on the label - Score!  I would have to try using a lesser amount of the root to tip mender so my hair won't feel weighed down.  

I recommend these products.  I have not been disappointed with Dark and Lovely products and the best part is they do not cost a fortune!

Thanks Dark and Lovely!

Hugs,

Mel

Whoa Wednesday! Meet Kimberly

I came across this beauty on you guessed it- Instagram!  I have to admit, I saw those rizos and just scrolled through her feed and I noticed that she was more than just a beautiful face with a gorgeous head of hair.  Read below and see what I mean - Here's Kimberly!

1. Name and where you are from?

Hi there! My name is Kimberly Hill. I am originally from a small town in California, called Lancaster but I have been living in Las Vegas for 15 years. For the longest time, I refused to consider myself a Vegas girl but going to Cali as an adult, I am caught off guard with the what you have to do for parking! Whaaaat??!! You mean I can't just leave my car at a casino parking lot for 15 hours+ without hassle?! Not to mention if you're in the mood for a 4 am drink at a bar ,you have no options. So yes, I give in ... I am a Vegas girl.

2. Tell us about yourself.

I am a sarcastic, mouthy, and a work in progress. There is so much of me I want to improve. I'm a simple gal. I'll take having a cup of coffee with a friend once a month, over "turning it up" every weekend. I am passionate. I love what I love and hate what I hate. Then again I can be a granny. I enjoy crocheting and The Golden Girls. I guess I'm just a weirdo. Haha! 

3.  Tell us something about you that will make us say WHOA!

I am pursuing an acting career. I love it. I started 8 years ago and I can't stop. I won't stop. It brings me so much joy. I know, I know, LA is the place to be for acting and I just said I live in Las Vegas. Well, I have been so blessed to be apart of indie films, local commercials, and I even created my own web series! Currently I am apart of "Comicality Project". The Comicality Project is a group of directors, actors, writers etc that teamed up to make a YouTube channel. Every Tuesday we release hilarious edgy skits. Check it out! My web series is in post production and I am so excited to start filming! I do plan on moving to LA eventually but until then, I plan to film as much as I can and improve my talent. Here's my reel by the way.....

4. How long have you been rockin' yo rizos?

I have been rockin' my rizos for around nine years now. Rockin them hard core for five of those. I wish I could say I have been au natural all my life but my mom is Costa Rican and had no idea how to do her mixed kids' hair. Can you say poodle? LOL 

5. What is your hair routine (including staple hair products and home made recipes)?

I have a confession- I just may be the laziest curly girl ever LOL! I just keep it simple. I use Deva Curl No Poo once a week to cleanse my scalp. When my hair was shorter, I used Shea Moisture Curl enhancing Smoothie and I also really like Kinky Curly Knot Today. When my hair is longer, I use Deva Curl's One Condition as a leave in. I rake the conditioner in with my fingers to detangle and then I scrunch. I squeeze the water out of my hair with large t-shirt and use the "plopping method" to help it dry. I love wash n go's but during the chilly months I use a diffuser. Simple. Right? I have yet to conquer this 2nd day hair thing though, so until then, bunning is my thing *shrugs*

6. Where can we find you on social media?

You can find me on instagram and twitter @itskimberlyh. On youtube at 

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIAV_eq2HnXTUJTNEMPzTOQ

7. Any last thoughts? Anything you would love for us to know.

I love all curly girls. I see a fro, long curls, shoulder length curls and I get so excited. They're so inspirational and real. Love you hair ladies!! It's so awesome! 

Also, if you already follow me on twitter/instagram I'm sure you've seen my posts about Epilepsy. At the age of 9 I was diagnosed with Epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. I would have countless seizures a day at one point.

Thankfully as an adult they are somewhat under control with medications. I have lost a lot of childhood memories because of the seizures, so don't ask me squat about the 90's. I hope to one day be a spokesperson and bring more awareness to Epilepsy.

What would you do if someone had a seizure in your presence? Find out here: 

http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/

Love,

Kimberly

Play With It Project by Vaughn Dabney

The Play With It Project (http://youcanplaywithit.com) is the missing conversation that sheds light on the natural hair movement as well as some of the experiences of the journey. Including exclusive interviews from women such as: Celebity Natural Hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood, Natural Hair Guru Mae (Natural Chica), Author Alex Elle and ME! Using film and photography, Vaughn Dabney, has been working on this project for the past four years while living in Atlanta, Georgia.

The coffee table book will highlight the different hairstyles seen in the natural hair community today ranging from low-cut and beautifully bald, to thick and kinky afros. The book has a special twist to it though...it will also be a resource. Located in the second half of the book will be an index corresponding to a woman's page. It will contain her hair regimens, care tips, and other useful information for women transitioning or currently natural. This is probably the most valuable portion of the book.

The documentary of course is the conversation. Delving into the lives of women AND men that have been interviewed. Telling their experiences through stories and poems.

Now that the project is almost complete, I'd like to share this with you first. If what you see is noteworthy, please feel free to use any materials on the site in order to spread the word and share this project. 

Contact info

Email: vaughndabney@gmail.com

Project website: http://youcanplaywithit.com

Instagram: @mrdabney

Twitter: @vaughndabney

Dominicans Con RIZOS - (Part 6) Meet Karen

What does being Dominican mean to you and why?

This seems like a simple enough question, right? Wrong. Born and raised in New York City, on paper at least, I'm American, first-generation to be exact. When I asked my father what I should consider myself he said, "You were born with a blue passport, so you're as gringa as they come." Ugh...that reply just didn't sit well with me. You see, I was raised in the northernmost part of Manhattan, otherwise known as Washington Heights/Inwood. Some call the area "little D.R." because it holds one of the largest populations of Dominicans in the United States. My first language was Spanish, and though I'm fluent in English as well, it's the language I refer back to during the most extreme moments. I grew up eating la bandera (rice, beans and some type of meat) every single day of the week, ate conflay (referring to any type of cereal) in the morning, habichuela condulce (sweet beans) during holy week, sancocho (soup) on rainy days and spaghetti at the beach. I was surrounded by mostly Spanish-speaking people, merengue and bachata blaring out of car windows, talk of American citizenship, knowledge of political rivalries in DR (el PLD vs. el PRD) and celebrated the 27th of Feb (Dominican independence) harder than any July 4th. Sitting at the salón under the inferno known as la secadora (hair dryer) with a hair pin burning my ear was a weekly ritual, and I was never one to miss a desrizado (hair relaxer) because showing my new growth was NOT AN OPTION!

So am I Dominican? Heck yea! Sorry, dad.

That being said, being Dominican-American means the best of both worlds for me. It means being able to enjoy all of the freedom and opportunity America offers while still embracing my rich and diverse Caribbean culture. We come in all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and colors, and we’re proud of who we are and how far we’ve come.

So you are a Spanish teacher! Tell me how the students received you and your hair?

Yes! I'm a first-year teacher at a high school in Newark, and boy has it been one heck of a ride so far! I'll preface this by saying that the school where I teach is 96% African American and 4% Latino. It's important for me to explain the demographics so that you get an idea of what my student perspective is. I am a Dominican-American woman, but one might say I'm racially ambiguous upon first glance. I have a fair complexion (a bit ghost-like if you ask me), green eyes, small to average features and a huge head of tightly coiled rizos...or as we call it, UN PAJÓN!

So when my students first saw me, I could tell they immediately wanted to ask questions and know more about me. Teenagers are super nosey, and they are not afraid to ask about anything!  The first time I wore my hair out: *girl raises hand* "I have a personal question if you don't mind. Are you mixed? Cause you definitely don't look like you're just black."

And the questions haven't stopped since.

My hair has been a huge topic of conversation among the students. From the "Oooh, your hair is poppin!" to the "Have you ever permed your hair?" or "How do you get it to look like that?"... I've heard it all.

When I wear my hair straight it actually gets more of a reaction these days, since it happens so seldom. Students have said its my "fancy look" and encourage me to get it done more often. Thanks, I guess.

When it's out and curly, the girls ask me about products, ask to feel it, and always feel the need to express their own hair struggles. The boys are also surprisingly really aware of my hair, and compliment it often! Apparently, they're more concerned with our hair than I thought.

The constant questions from the students gave me the opening to educate them on their hair texture, do's and don'ts and some best practices. I decided it would be a great opportunity to start a natural hair club at the school. After hosting an interest meeting, over 20 young ladies showed up! We all had one thing in common: an incessant struggle with our hair. I talked to them about years of perming my hair to tame el "pelo malo" and how I ended up having alopecia (medical term for baldness) from all the harsh chemicals. I shared horror stories about a weave pulling out most of my hair and having to cut it all off among many other nightmares I've suffered throughout my hair life.  Not only did I have their attention, but being able to relate to them like this created a deeper bond between us. We all have some type of love-hate relationship with our hair and I was more than thrilled we could bring that all to the forefront in a shared space.

Since then our club has joined forces with our schools' girl's group, and though it is a very slow process, I'm sure the club will benefit many. Even if it only benefits one, than it's one more than I originally bargained for. 

Photos by: Maleknaz

Dominicans con RIZOS - (Part 5) Meet Stephanie!

Tell me about your hair journey.

I decided to go natural two years ago.  Up until then I was the "typical" Dominican girl going to the salon every week.  One day I decided I was tired of straight hair and wanted to try something new.  A friend encouraged me to go natural after seeing my natural hair while on vacation. In the beginning it was really hard as I navigated through diffident products and various styling methods. When I visited my first curly salon, the stylist asked me if I relaxed my hair because it had so much heat damage. I never relaxed it but you couldn't tell looking my hair wet.  I've had to cut off at least 8-10 inches from my hair but I had no choice as my ends were completely ruined. When I first started my transition, my family couldn't understand why I didn't straighten my hair and would try to convince me to go to the salon. I am completely happy with my hair and now wear my curls proudly.

What's your occupation? What have you experienced in wearing your natural hair?

I currently work as an allocation analyst at a fashion company. I've been with this company for about 4 months and in the beginning I would always wear my hair tied up in a bun.  One day I decided to leave my hair out and everyone would ask me about my hair and whoever passed by my desk would compliment me. Several people asked me why I didn't wear my hair out more often. Slowly I began to wear my hair out all the time and feel completely comfortable doing so. I am really lucky to work in a creative industry where originality is encouraged.  

Photos by: Maleknaz

Dominicans con RIZOS (Part 3) Meet Bruja

So you go by Bruja. Is that your real name?  And that hair!  Tell me about your journey.

bruja is my real name.  yes it means witch and no, it is not what is on my birth certificate. i believe everyone has the right to call themselves what they wish. for example, Malcolm Little became Malcolm X - the letter X for the unknown African family he came from. later El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, signifying a new phase, a new journey he entered. Gloria Jean Watkins decided to call herself 'bell hooks' after her grandmother.  she purposely lower cased the first letters to distinguish herself from her grandmother. i lower case because i am only one element in this rather large organism - the world. bruja is my name. it is what you can call me.

at about 16 years of age, something clicked in me. my hair became me. it was no longer "a part of me." my family is from the dominican republic and dominican women are infamously known for the most poppingest of poppin' blow outs. of course i wanted long straight hair. yet, i couldn't afford going to el salón every week. buns and wash and go's were styles i always did before i even knew they were called a "bun" or a "wash and go." i just wanted my hair to be dealt with not knowing it didn't need to be dealt with in the first place. i have always been natural. along with accepting my hair how it comes out of my head, the name bruja came right along with it. i was called bruja because of my pajón (afro). but i was also called bruja as a term of endearment, de cariño. i have always been extremely vocal and social but an still very much an introvert. i chose books, protests, spoken word before hookies and boyfriends. deciding to call myself bruja was as organic as it was destined. i call myself bruja in honor of all the witches murdered and hounded spiritually; in honor of all the women i have known to tell the truth and carry on our legacies. bruja means power and truth.

What do you do for a living?

what pays me isn't as important as what i am meant to do. i have been having conversations with movers and shakers that do not have a traditional career path. we are in a digital age where our ability to navigate different circles using our many acquired skills has afforded us the ability to create new means of income. i only have 10 months in my first traditional job that i am seeing as a stepping stone for my next move. what i can say is that i am a connector, a speaker, a mover and shaker. i am particularly interested in latin@ communities of African descent both domestically here in the US and abroad (the diaspora, our motherlands), women, media and arts. i talk race a lot. i talk sexism a lot. i talk capitalism a lot. these are interlocking systems of domination that connect us with each other, most often in the worst way. by deconstructing these systems, i find that i am able to truly build commUnity and learn a bit more about you and myself in the process.

Dominicans Con RIZOS - (Part 2) Meet Jackie and Addison

You are a first time mommy! Congrats! How has your routine including your hair routine changed? 

My routine as a first time mommy has changed and sadly, not for the better.  Before returning to work full-time, I used to deep condition my hair on a weekly basis. I also used to wear the curls out all the time. Since becoming a mom, I’ve found that time is a precious and rare commodity when it comes to beauty/hair care. I no longer have the time to dedicate to the deep conditioning process every week so it’s now become a twice monthly or sometimes once monthly affair.  It’s unfortunate because I did suffer hair loss following the birth of my daughter so I desperately need to dedicate more time to the deep conditioning process. To make up for it, I always use leave-in conditioner as a base and finish with Moroccan or argan oil when I style my hair. I hope that in doing so, I’m conditioning/moisturizing my hair to some degree.

I also find that, for the time being, I can no longer wear my hair curly all the time. My daughter is in the stage where she wants to touch/play with everything in sight. My hair is not exempt so she is constantly touching, pulling and playing with my hair. You can probably relate, but constant touching of the curls makes mine frizzy/messy looking. I used to be able to last 5 days with my curls out. Now I’m lucky if I make it to three before I start looking like I got electrocuted - not cute. And I’m not kidding. So I end up pulling the curls back in a bun or trying some other creative way to wear it. Most of the time, because of having little time, the pulled back look wins. 

Another change is in how often I color and cut my hair. I used to do this pretty regularly before Addison but I can’t seem to bring myself to dedicate the hours that it takes to visit the salon and get those simple services done. Ok, no time to deep condition, style or cut/color hair are really making me sound like a winner here – I need a clone!

What really made you go natural?

The decision to go natural for me was gradual and somewhat organic.  One of my closest friends went natural shortly after we graduated from college (she caved after a year and later tried again and succeeded at remaining natural).  At around the same time, my cousin cut off all of her hair in her quest to go natural. I thought they were both rock stars for doing it, but my cousin more so for having the guts to literally cut everything off (think Jada Pinkett’s Low Down Dirty Shame boy short look without the ridiculously long/curled sideburns) . I was very inspired – but still hesitant. Aside from being hugely inspired by both of them, my active lifestyle was the deciding factor and lead to my decision to go natural. Back then, I used to run half marathons, constantly in the gym, and taking tennis lessons. I couldn’t sustain the work required to keep my hair ‘straight’ while spending so much time on physical activities. I stopped going to the salon, which also meant that I stopped relaxing my hair. I’d go and get a trim but I wouldn’t allow the stylists to process my hair although they desperately wanted to take care of my ‘intense roots’ situation. A year and a half or so later, I had a full head of natural hair and found it incredibly liberating. I couldn’t believe how much time I’d spent going to the salon every weekend --- and sitting there for 3-4 hours (no disrespect to anyone who currently does this). Without the beautiful ladies that go to the salon every weekend, our stylists in the ‘hood would run out of business'.  For me however, it made a huge difference in using the extra time to do much more meaningful things with my weekends.

I will admit that I still feel that there are occasions for which I need to bring out the straight hair both in my personal and professional life. I work for a Financial Services Firm and depending upon whom I’m meeting with, I sometimes feel that my ‘big hair’ may be too wild for work so I pull it back. I also still give into blow drying my hair if I’m going to a wedding or any other formal event. It’s something that I’m continuing to work through because my hair, in its natural state is beautiful (except on those days when I look like I got electrocuted or when I’m rocking that hat/bed hair that my daughter has so very well perfected).

WHAT A CUTIE! 

Ella's Concoctions Review (Part 1)

A couple of weeks ago, I received a package of goodies from a fellow naturalista Jess Brooks - owner of Ella's Concoctions.  I was really looking forward to trying them because they are all 100% raw and organic hair, skin, and body products.  Also, they are all home made and safe for use on children! From the moment I opened the box,  there was a sweet aroma of butterscotch candy and mint (you'll understand why in a bit).  I just couldn't wait to take a shower and wash these rizos so here it goes....

BEFORE (10 day hair)

PREPOO

AFTER

BEFORE

PRODUCTS USED

Products (l to r): Holy Grail Oil, Body Polish, and Body Butter

Process Time: 3 hours and 42 mins

PrePoo (for 2 hours): Tropic Isle Living Jamaican Black Castor Oil 

Wash: 1X with Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo.  

Condition/Detangle:  Nature's Gate conditioner - Biotin 

Deep Condition:  Miss's Jessie's Rapid Recovery Treatment

Style: Coated hair with Sebastian Potion 9 wearable styling treatment and then applied Ecostyler styling gel.

Diffused hair for 12 minutes on low heat.

Seal: Ella's Concoctions Holy Grail Oil for Women. Placed 4 drops in hand and worked the product evenly from the ends to the roots.

Moisturizing:  Ella's Concoctions Body Polish and Body Butter

VERDICT:  ALL are my NEW GO-TO'S!!!!   

Since trying out the products, I have been using these products faithfully for the past 2 weeks straight and I have noticed a huge difference in my skin and hair. 

The significant difference I noticed in using the Holy Grail Oil for Women was that my hair feels stronger- my hair is prone to breakage so this is definitely a plus! Also it feels a little thicker along my hairline (Horsetail herb is blended in as a key component to promote hair growth and strengthening). 

During the winter my skin gets very dry and since using the body polish it is now extremely moisturized and very smooth.  At times I don't even have to use body butter!  Oh yeah and I can't forget the delightful scent of lemongrass. NOTE:  It can get very messy so I had to be cautious when applying the oil in the shower so I wouldn't slip. Be careful.

As for the body butter, I could have eaten it out of the jar! It smells just like a piece of butterscotch candy (its made with raw kokum and kukui nut butter).  I have used this body butter on it's own (without the body polish) and I have never felt my skin this soft and moisturized, ever.  I would normally have to reapply lotion throughout the day and now I don't.  Woooo Hooo no more ash! 

Please go and check out http://www.ellasconcoctions.com and find out more about other products and shop!!!

**Stay tuned for the review on the Quickie oil for women and the Juicy Nectar Spritzer as I will revive my rizos.

Thank you Jess!

Hugs,

Mel

Disclaimer: DUE TO EACH PRODUCT BEING HANDMADE UPON COMPLETION OF ORDER, PLEASE ALLOW 7 - 10 BUSINESS DAYS BEFORE ORDER IS SHIPPED, EXCLUDING WEEKENDS AND ALL HOLIDAYS, FOR DELIVERY.

Dominicans Con RIZOS - (Part 1) Meet Belissa

A couple of months ago I had a conversation with my good friend Karen about hair- well our conversations usually lead to a hair discussion because what else is there really to talk about? Right? Haha just playing (not really). We discussed our hair routines, go to products, and her recent haircut experience at Devachan with my well, shoooot, OUR hair angel Nevila.  Our conversation got a little deeper and I started asking her questions about how she felt since going natural and being Latina, more specifically being Dominican and some of her experiences within her culture and the acceptance of her decision.  While listening to her, I became curious to know if she had fellow Dominicanas that were willing to share their stories and even allow to be photographed.  She was able to round up five beautiful ladies that agreed!  I could not have been happier. The energy amongst everyone was exuberant considering having met them briefly over email or seeing their pictures on Instagram.  So here I introduce la primera belleza Belissa!

I love your hair color!  Can you tell me the process and why you decided to go blond?

It was 2001.  I was in my junior year in college- which is when you take your senior pictures.  I absolutely hated my pictures.  So I decided to retake the pictures and then went to my mom's hair salon for a wash and set as I had done once a week for as long as I could remember.  That morning she happened to have some left over bleach from highlights she had done on another client and decided to use it on me. The rest is history.  

From that moment I kept getting more highlights and then came D-day.  My mom said my hair was falling out so I had to choose between getting my hair relaxed or colored.  Of course I chose coloring and so began my natural hair evolution!  Currently I get a single process (light brown), and highlights at Senses Salon (ask for Jeanine).  I usually only get a full head of highlights once a year and get my roots touched up every two months.

So you are a Pilates instructor - so interesting! Why did you decide to go into this field?

My first introduction to Pilates was in 2010 when I stumbled onto re:AB Pilates through a Lifebooker deal.  I was always looking for new ways to stay fit and active.  With years of weight training, boxing, and dance, they only provided temporary changes to my body.   With pilates, I saw a drastic change in my mind and body after only two weeks and instantly knew it would be in my life forever. I spent two years struggling to make room for my new passion amidst a very busy corporate schedule.  In 2012, I decided to enroll in the re:AB Pilates Teacher Training Program studying under Brooke Siler.  Today, I commute from Harlem to re:AB in the early mornings, then to Rockefeller Center to my corporate job, and finally back to the re:AB studio in the evenings. I didn't really think I'd be working two jobs at 32, but here I am and I love it!!!

In the future, I would love to share my expertise within urban communities, like Washington Heights (where I was raised) to give back to those communities that lack resources and education in the areas of health and fitness. It's been quite a ride for me since I started the program.  As fate would have it, my mentor Brooke Siler was commissioned to write the Women's Health Big Book of Pilates.  I was chosen as one of four fitness models to be featured in the book.  The book was released and I was featured in the November issue of Women's Health magazine!

It's Brick outside! As a New Yorker would say

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With the temperature rapidly dropping and already experiencing our first winter storm, I was filled with nostalgia for this beautiful fall day.  

I met up with my friend Ari in DC (13th and U St. NW to be exact) and we took advantage of an unseasonable warm afternoon to take some pics.  She scoped out this spot and just started snapping away.... 

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Ya'll know I love a jumping picture! 

Quick Getaway- St. Pete Beach, FL

I was in Florida this past weekend for a much needed getaway.  I arrived at night so a lot of places I did see were not captured but we stayed at this adorable hotel called the Postcard Inn.  It is a hidden gem.  From the outside it looked sort of abandoned but check out how cool the interior is....

It felt GREAT to dig my heels in the sand and hang out in a bikini all day in the middle of December.  If you are ever in this area I would def check it out, you will not be disappointed.  

Hugs, 

Mel

Whoa Wednesday! Meet Chenoia

I'm going to cut to the chase and say I found this beauty on Instagram.  I just could not get over how awesome her hair is but after I asked her if I can feature her and read the answer to her questions- I was BLOWN away!! !!!  I'm not going to ruin it for ya so check her out!

1.    Name and where you are from?

Chenoia Bryant, Birmingham, AL

2.    How would you describe yourself?

A bit awkward, big hearted, and outgoing

3.    Tell us something about you that will make us say WHOA!

I am currently training for a triathlon, but I should back up a bit. My goal is to complete a triathlon in the next three years. However, I must learn to swim (currently scheduled to begin lessons in January 2014), learn to ride a bike (currently signed up for Atlanta’s Bike Coalition beginner’s class), and run for long distances (fortunately I’m familiar with cardio and a bit of jogging, so this will be more a test of building my endurance). How I am going to manage to do all this while working and doing the Ph.D. thing is a bit beyond me, but I am going to chronicle my journey on my blog (under development – www.autruchenoire.com) just in case anyone else out there thinks such a thing is not possible or would just like to read the chronicles of my crazy.  

I am getting my Ph.D. in Medical Sociology with a concentration in gender, sexuality, and health. My research interests are in socially and sexually marginalized populations, HIV, social determinants of health, and health disparities. I am very passionate about the health of transgender persons and sex workers and really aim to contribute to the narrative and broaden the life course perspective of their health and social outcomes.  

People may also be interested to know that as much as I love fashion, I don’t read or buy magazines (unless they have an amazing cover – I think the last one was Gwen Stefani on the Vogue cover).  As much as I love a great accessory, I don’t really care for purses or to carry them rather. Handbags are so annoying to carry around and most days I have my hands full enough already without having some annoying thing on my shoulder. 

Another side note – I used to weigh 210 lbs.  

I lost the weight because I did not like the way I felt and I also found that it was more difficult for me to wear my heels. I was a fan of wearing them all the time at that point in my life. It's funny because now it's a struggle to get me to put  on heels. I lost it very slowly over the course of about 4-5 years. I did not rush it because I wanted the results to last and the process to be something that was sustainable. I am now a pescatarian.

4.    How long have you been rockin' yo rizos?

The journey to rockin’ my rizos began in August 2008 and I actually didn’t start rocking an afro until December 2011. I only wore my afro in spurts. Now I wear it all the time and love nothing more than letting the coils spring forth daily in all their glory.

5.    What is your hair routine (including staple hair products and home made recipes)?

My hair routine is fairly simple. I wash and condition and roll and go. My staple products are primarily from the Agadir line. They work so well for my hair and they smell heavenly. I love their shampoo, conditioner, and deep moisture masque. I use the moisture masque and coconut oil together for deep conditioning and I usually sit under the dryer for about 45 minutes.  I then wrap my hair in a towel straight from the dryer and let the conditioner sit for hours while I do my chores. My hair always feels buttery soft after I do this. I use their spray on oil and heavy liquid oil as well. I guess what I am saying is that the entire Agadir line is my go-to.

6.    Where can we find you on social media?

Blog - http://autruchenoire.com

Instagram – Chenoia

Twitter - @Chenoia

7. Any last thoughts? Anything you would love for us to know?

You are beautiful…you are loved…you are worthy…you are worthy of all good things…you are a good thing…and you are worth being loved…

XOXO,

Chenoia 

International News Network Encourages ' The Natural Look'

Arise News is an online and satellite network that broadcasts to Europe, Africa and the United States since April. The brain child of successful Nigerian Publisher Nduka Obaigbena.  Arise is not just covering international stories from a more colorful perspective, it is also encouraging the natural aesthetic of the African Diaspora to shine through.  One new hire, Safiya Songhai, was surprised to have her news director actually encourage her to wear her hair natural, in an all out Afro.

Television news is often considered a place where women of color who are on-air talent must conform to a Eurocentric standard of hair beauty.  Nearly all major broadcasters wear their hair in weaves, wigs, perms, presses or extensions.

Although Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC is two strand-twisting her hair while the natural hair grows in, most kinky-haired women on TV, don't let their full-fro or curls grace the air-waves.

Songhai, an Emmy-Award Winning broadcaster and filmmaker was near tears when her news director, veteran journalist, Gary Anthony Ramsay actually encouraged her to wear her hair in a natural Afro style.

On the first day of the hair unveiling Ramsay said "See, doesn't that feel better."

Natural hair on the news was common in the 1970's when it was a popular style nationwide.  Since this era, few other black women have been given the green light to exhibit their hair confidence behind the news desk.

Black women spend approximately 9 billion dollars annually on hair care products. Much of that money is spent on an effort to change the natural kinky hair texture of an afro or curly hair. In contrast, Songhai says her natural probably costs about $50 a year to maintain.

Songhai quotes:

" Black people can't live in the shadow of another group of people and ever gain their respect.  We have to stand at our full height, and with natural hair you stand taller in more ways than one." 

" The issue isn't natural vs. straight hair, the issue is thinking that natural hair is not an acceptable option to corporate America. I change my hair all of the time, every two days to be exact. When I go into a professional setting, I shouldn't have to un-africanize myself in order to be acceptable or non-threatening."

- I will still wear my hair straight from time to time, but the Afro, kinks and curls will always be in my hair arsenal. I want women, young and old to look to me and remember their crown is already on their head. They don't need East Indian hair, or Remy hair packs to present themselves to the world. I'm talking to the international world everyday and I'm going to do it, in an Afro.

LINKS: 

www.SafiyaSonghai.com (Bio, clips, etc)

(Natural) http://www.arise.tv/news-now-show/arise-news-now-27-11-3937

(Natural) http://www.arise.tv/news-now-show/arise-news-now-22-11-3910

(Straight) http://www.arise.tv/news-now-show/arise-news-now-15-11-3865

 

Featured: Refinery 29!

Ok so I'm going to cut to the chase and say that I was SUPER elated when I received an email requesting to be featured on Refinery 29- one of my absolute favorite sites.  I experienced a lot of different emotions that day because to think the night before I was surfing the site searching for a new handbag and the perfect party look for an upcoming event and now I'm one of the editor's picks! 

A huge Thank You to editor Holly E. Thomas and photographer Kate Warren for capturing such ahhhmazing moments. It was a blast working with the both of you. Check out the full interview HERE

But WAIT!!!  Here are some outtakes....

Hugs,

Mel

Nighttime Routine

Hola!

I have been asked on several occasions what my nighttime routine is and I'm here to show you.

Step 1: I use a satin pillowcase- it reduces friction to my rizos and aids in maintaining moisture.  Another benefit is that it reduces stress to your skin!

 

Step 2:  I lift my hair from underneath

Step 3: I lay down with my curls over the folded over part

Step 4:  SLEEP!

Photos by: Jada Roams

 

Just that simple!  (Well with some hope that I do not sleep crazy)

I reseal my hair with 100% argan or grapeseed as needed before bed.

NOTE:  I have attempted the "pineapple" method but it does not work for my hair texture or haircut.  The imprint of the hair tie stays in my hair and I have had to wet and reapply products too often.  I also have tried using a satin bonnet and it just ended up on the other side of the bed.  

Regardless of your routine, I suggest using a satin pillowcase, scarf or bonnet. Not only are they affordable but your rizos and your skin will benefit big time!

Hugs,

Mel

Whoa Wednesday! Meet Jini

1. Name and where are you from?

Mi name is Jini Lopez and I am from Toa Alta, Puerto Rico.

2. How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a peaceful and happy person.  I also like meeting new people.

3. Tell us something about you that will make us say WHOA!

I am a self taught makeup artist and now I am certified! I started doing makeup when I was 17 years old and just loved it.  I am currently give makeup seminars and contribute to makeup articles for an online magazine but would also love to give "Learn to love your curly hair" self-esteem speeches/semimars here in PR. My passion is to help others.

4. How long have you been rockin' yo rizos?

I have always had curly hair! But I mistreated it with harsh hair dyes when I was younger. I grew up in a country where having curly hair wasn't all that cool but still I rocked it!  I felt different because I'm light skinned and  hispanic and did not understand why my my hair was not straight so I used to tie a long scarf around my head to pretend I had long straight hair LOL!  It was a year ago when a decided to go completely natural, no harmful dyes, no chemicals, all organic/natural hair products and fully Rock My Rizos!

5. What is your hair routine (including staple hair products and home made recipes)?

This is a long one!  I wash my hair every 2 weeks, some times even longer because I do protective styles on dry oiled hair (if your curly headed you understand). I hardly use shampoo and when I do it has no sulfates - usually Shea Moisture.  Every month I wash my hair with an apple cider vinegar recipe because it helps get rid of product buildup, eliminates dandruff and it is natural! 

My recipe consist of:

  • empty bottle
  • apple cider vinegar (Bragg- organic) 
  • water 
  • (optional) rosemary, tea tree, or lavender oil. 

Pour equal parts of water and vinegar in the bottle and add 2 or 3 drops of any essential oil and there you have it!  After I wash it, I add Giovanni Direct Leave-in Conditioner.  It's great for all hair types and is organic.  I then apply a cream- the ones I use are: Shea Moisture Coconut Milk, Cantu Shea Butter Coconut Curling Cream, Cantu Shea Butter Coconut milk shine & hold.  After this I style my hair, I alternate between doing the curly girl method by Lorraine Massey author of Curly Girl: The Handbook or I just watch SunkissAlba on You Tube (she's a doll)!  I alternate between air drying my curls and diffusing my hair on medium heat. For protective styles I use: organic virgin coconut oil and avocado oil with Eco Styler Olive oil gel.


6. Where can we find you on social media?

Instagram: @jiniusmakeup 

Facebook: Cursos De Maquillaje 

Youtube:    JiniusBeauty

7. Any last thoughts? Anything you would love for us to know?

Happiness comes from being you. Don't try to be any one else because there is no one like you! Rock what you have, whether your hair is long, short, thin or thick hair, big curls, small curls or even if your bald.  Embrace what you have! Own it because God made you the way you are for a reason. You are perfect in your own way! Simply be the best you can be.

Besitos,

Jini