Featuring : Niambi

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A beautifully creative natural who attracts us with her charm and holds us with her knowledge and willingness to share her journey.  
"Beauty is a culturally dependent concept."

Age: 31

How long have you been natural?
It will be 10 years since my original BC in August 2011!

Any interesting fact about yourself you want to share: I'm from CT, spent a lot of time in Boston and now live in the DMV :-)  I'm a graphic designer and visual artist. I do web work at a huge non-profit in DC and I love it.

Do you remember your first relaxer? If so, how old were you?
Yep- I was 12 and I didn't think much of it then.  I just didn't want my hair to be puffy anymore and my mom wanted me to start caring for it myself. 

What made you go natural?
Relaxed with some curly texture.
Most importantly a series of strong and mixed relaxer brands in undergrad.  I was stretching to every 3 months to save money. The relaxer brand I preferred left some curl in my hair to play with and I had been wearing my hair "curly" in wash and goes to save time.  I had a touch up with Affirm which overly straightened the 3 months of new growth and as it grew out I had 3 very different stripes of hair and no time to deal with camouflaging it.  This all led to a true BC to remove all the too straight relaxer 4 months later.   I had been curious about my own texture for a while so I wanted to see it, but I was still afraid of it and planned to texturise it.  I went "natural," however, once I saw my real texture and loved it.  It was about 3 days later that I decided not to change it.  I began asking a lot of questions about our culture then.

What reactions did you get from going natural?
People were SHOCKED that I cut all my hair off.  No one was doing that back in 2001 so it was a big deal! But then once it began to grow out and I never "did anything to it" I began to get a lot of questions, a few insults and a lot of positive and negative attention.  I was in Boston, so it was very odd for a woman to be in a corporate setting there and have an afro.  But my friends starting thinking about what we do to our hair and several went natural soon after. I gained and built a nice support system.
First Big Chop 2001
Have you had any negative comments/reactions to your natural hair?

I had a relative tell me I looked like a "bush woman"  and a few concerned relatives asked what was wrong, as if I weren't keeping myself up and must have gone through some trauma lol.  I'd also say that a lot of the attention I got made me uncomfortable, such as co-workers constantly asking how I "got it like that" and the random touchers!  More recently I went on vacation in NJ and I felt like spectacle because of at least 20 compliments and comments and countless stares. It was flattering at first but then I began to wonder- am I really THAT different? 

Did you have any insecurities you faced when going natural? 
I was concerned I would not look feminine with super short, fuzzy hair so I wore more makeup for a few weeks but the feeling passed quickly once I realized that strangers had no idea that I'd just cut a lot of hair off.  I had a rough time defing my curls and overcoming my ignorance of products at first so I had many days where my hair was dry or I wore head-wraps to hide my fro.  Once it got longer I was a little concerned about getting a job in Boston, but I got a job at a conservative bank, of all places, with no issues.  I've overcome all of these issues over the years and feel far more comfortable now with my natural texture than a press

Do you have any hair inspirations?
Second Big Chop 2006
The women who inspire me are the ones who just kinda do their own thing.  Sounds crazy but I always admired Whoopie for rocking her locks for ever and all time.  I love the moves that Faith Evans makes with her color, though I have not gone so far as all over color.  I also always liked Rachel True's hair for her curly volume. I used to like that Monica, Toni Braxton and Halle stayed true to the short cuts for such a long time- which flatters their faces more than long hair IMO. I just appreciate that those women seem to do what they feel is right for them, despite trends. 

Do you have a hair regimen? If so, what is it?
I have a loose routine.  I mostly only co-wash, 1 or two times a week.  When I do a full wash every few weeks I always do a deep treatment with conditioners and oils the night before.  Otherwise I like to do hair and experiment, so my style will dictate what products I use and how I care for it between washings.  I tie my hair up at night and I don't use much heat, and no direct heat any more.

What are your favorite hair products?
I love Eco Styler gel, Castor oil, Paul Mitchel's The Conditioner, Kemi Shea Butter Pomade, and the Kinky Curly line.  Most recently I've fallen in love with Kiss My Face Upper Management gel when mixed with my castor oil, and Yes To Cucumbers conditioner. 

What are your thoughts on relaxers vs. natural hair? 
I wish a new right of passage would develop where every black woman would really spend some time in her own skin- or hair in this instance.  If she decides to relax again after that I don't begrudge her at all. But if relaxers are thinning your edges or your hair, and your wallet, I really wonder why it's often not an option to just stop. It makes me sad to imagine that embracing our hair is still just not a valid option in some women's minds.  If aesthetically she just prefers straight, I can understand the relaxer cutting down the work to get it to stay that way, but the fact that the ideal aesthetic is so opposite of all things black forces me to wonder if that preference is a learned behavior.  Beauty is a culturally dependent concept. 

How do you feel about the natural movement and the idea that it's just  a trend? 
Being on the wagon for so long I have seen the natural hair support system expand and grow into a marvelous social force, but I also have seen it become perverse at times.  There is an explosion of information available now to a new natural.  When I went natural there wasn't much support anywhere so I spent the majority of my time just learning about my hair on my own.  I felt then that I "invented" all of the styles- how to do them, how to preserve them.  I only did things that started from knowledge of what MY hair could do.  I think the perversion that is occurring today, and also the source for the notion that it's a trend, is the formation of a sub-culture with an ideal natural.  A style, hair type or goal worthy of aspiring to despite perhaps even greater efforts or harm than relaxing.  The scary result I see is the decision some women make that natural hair is not for all of us.  Like if your twist-out or wash-and-go never looks good that you just don't have good hair after all.  Sometimes too much information leads to coveting that can cause even more problems.  Now you don't want to relax, but you truly hate your real hair because it won't do what someone else's hair does= the saddest sad.

Where can we find you on the internet?
My Blog! www.itsjusthair.com :-) or @nisus on Twitter.   I started my blog in 2009 and have quite a bit of info, styles and photos there. 



  1. She is gorgeous and I love her blog! Very inspirational, thank you!

  2. Wow, I agree! She is GORGEOUS and her hair.....WOW..SPEECHLESS!!! I <3 IT!!!