Name: Tessa Kagbala
Location: Hell’s Kitchen via Brooklyn
How long have you been natural? I have been natural for about 11 years, but I started the process 12 years ago. I caved in during the first year and put a kiddie perm in my hair. Afterwards I was so mad with myself for allowing my fundamental darkness win.
Did you transition or do the Big Chop? I transitioned, I cut the perm off bit by bit once I saw that my hair was growing.
Why did you choose that route? I always had long hair, and I didn’t want to cut it all off just to go natural. Everyone told me that I would have to cut it all off in order to get my curls back. I used that negativity as my fuel, and to prove them wrong.
How long did you transition? Gee it took a while I want to say a couple of years, but I don’t remember exactly, it was so long ago. I wore my hair in protective styles, which helped my hair grow, and before I would take them out I would cut some more of my processed ends off. I was so happy when I was able to cut off the last piece of straight hair off! By that time my hair was naturally past my shoulders, and I think that is why it took so long. I didn’t want my hair to be short.
What inspired you to have natural hair? I remember one day I was going through my photo album and I saw all these pics of me when I was younger with beautiful curls. At that point I had been relaxing my hair for about 10 years. Can you believe I didn’t even remember what it was like to have curly hair, something deep inside me missed having curls. As I reflected I was heart broken that I had asked my mom to put a perm in my hair. I can’t say that she never warned me! When I was a teen I hated my hair, for years I would just wear it in a bun, and damaged it by coloring it all the time. I was trying to keep up with the Joneses and I couldn’t take it any more, I just wanted to be free to express myself. Everyone opposed me becoming natural; my boyfriend even broke up with me! I guess was to forward thinking chuckle. Deep in my soul I knew I was doing the right thing. 11 years later I am so happy to see women take the steps to embrace the hair that they were blessed with.
What has kept you motivated to remain natural? When I started to transition, the pictures of me when I was younger were my inspiration, and also hearing my mom say “You use to have such nice soft curls.” If I had depended on anything else I would of caved in and gone back down chemical road. None of my peers were attempting to grow out their hair, and as my mane grew people just looked at me crazy!
Now, being natural is more that just my hair, it is a lifestyle. I’ve become more aware of the causes I make to maintain a natural lifestyle and I am still learning what that mean for me and my family. I’m so inspired by all these lovely ladies that have blog, vlog, with information about health and hair, there is such an amazing community of support! We just need to continue to unite!
What are two(2) natural hair products that you just can’t live without? Why? I looooove coconut oil and Shea butter. I always make sure I have these two items in stock. They both keep my hair very soft. I use them, along with my gel, for styling and as my everyday moisturizer. I recently started using Karen’s Body beautiful. Her line is amazing and she has created so many aids for the hair, she is really into educating woman about proper hair care.
What is your favorite way to wear your hair? I LIVE in the double strand twist. I feel like this style helps my hair to grow. Depending on my mood I make then really small, or fairly big. I usually braid the root, then I twist the ends, that way the root is a little bit tighter. I can go almost a month in this style, because I can manipulate it into many other styles
What do you love about your natural hair? I love how versatile my hair is! I can wear it straight, up do’s tight curls, braids, afro depending on my mood or season. When it was relaxed I couldn’t create as many styles. I also love that my hair is always evolving so I am constantly learning more about it as the years go by.
What do you dislike about it? Ummmm….. what is there to dislike. I feel blessed, even if it may take me longer to do my hair than most, or I even though I get very hot when it’s in a fro. I love my hair, and wouldn’t change it for the world!!
What tip(s) would you recommend to someone who wants to become natural, is transitioning, or needs advice about natural hair? You must first love and respect your hair (and self), before anyone else can. Have confidence that your hair will grow to you determined length, it will get there before you know it!! Be conscious of the products that you use on your mane, just because it says organic, doesn’t mean it really is. Experiment! There are so many resources out on the web that provide recipes for natural hair products, use ‘em. It’s all about trial and error, because your texture may be different than the next woman, not everything will work for you but you wont find out unless you try. You don’t need to do a big chop n order to become natural; as your hair grows you curl pattern will evolve. Enjoy the process it, you may discover something else about yourself!
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