"If You're Not Feeling Your Hair, You're Not Feeling Yourself..."
A few accolades-
- Best Selling Author of 'Better Than Good Hair' (Harper Collins, 2013)
- Among Essence's '35 Under 35 Young, Black and Amazing'
- Multiple features in the New York Times, Huffington Post and on CNN.com
- Profiled by The USA Today
- Featured in O Magazine, Ebony, Essence, Parents, Black Hair Mag UK, Seventeen, Sister 2 Sister, The Guardian and many others
- Named by Black Enterprise as one of the web’s most influential voices
- Appeared on CNN, MSNBC, The Tyra Banks Show, The Katie Couric Show and co-hosted a segment of the Dr.Oz Show.
- Steve Harvey Morning Show Contributor
- Conducted nearly 100 celebrity interviews including Tracee Ellis Ross, Chaka Khan, Raven Symone and Wanda Sykes.
- Pens a popular column for ESSENCE, called 'Ask CurlyNikki'.
- New York Times journalist and radio host Jamila Bey, coined Nikki, ‘the modern day Madame CJ Walker’.
I'm a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and hold a masters degree in Psychology. In my practice as a psychotherapist, I regularly counsel women through depression, low self-esteem, and image development. Hair comes up more than you think. My mission here is to provide balance between physical beauty and personal esteem in a way that defies societal norms-- providing Hair Therapy to achieve real hair, real beauty and real self-esteem! Hence the RED COUCH.
Below, you will find 'My Hair Story', which will catch you up on why natural hair quickly became my passion.
**To check out a clip from my appearance on the Tyra Banks Show, CLICK HERE.
**For more pictures of my hair, CLICK HERE.
I was born in Florida in 1983 to two wonderfully caring and supportive parents. A year after my birth, we moved to St. Louis, MO, where my little sister (not so little anymore) would be born. I had an amazing childhood, but an awkward adolescence that was plagued with self-esteem issues tied to my thin frame and my not so hot, hot-combed hair. From 10-16, I went to a salon every two weeks, or once a month to have my mid-back length hair blown out and hot combed straight, with LOTS of grease. (prior to age 10, my mother and grandmother took wonderful care of my hair- it was washed and conditioned only once a month, kept in braids and grew to waist length). During my early teen years, my hair never looked the way I wanted it to- it would revert almost immediately and end up in a frizzy, greasy, poofy mess. I'm sure some of you can relate- if you're not feeling your hair, you're not feeling yourself. It's sad but true. I wanted BONE straight hair, and I couldn't seem to get the silky results my relaxed cousins and friends had. I felt that although my hair was long, it was only okay at best. My parents banned relaxers in their household-something I was annoyed with at the time, but completely understand and appreciate today.
Finally, late in my junior year of high school, my sister and I began going to a different salon. This place had new technology, lol, they had young stylists, and even more important, they had flat irons (and no grease in sight)! It was awesome! I went back to school with new hair, a new attitude, new sexy glasses (my old ones were nerdy, lol), and new found confidence. I felt pretty...still skinny, but pretty. My hair was silky and flowing in the wind and nobody could tell me nothing! Senior year went very well- I was getting my wig flipped once every two weeks, completely unaware that my once healthy bra strap length hair was disappearing before my eyes. By the time I went off to college my hair was a shoulder length bob...but as long as it was bone straight, I didn't care. Apparently the sporadic press and curls with lots of lubrication, were better for me than regular flat iron sessions on product free hair (my beautician clarified my hair at every session and didn't use a leave-in, to give it that silky look).
I met my would be husband at Truman State University, a small liberal arts college in the middle of nowhere (seriously, all we had was a Super Walmart). We actually met during freshman orientation week- the rest is history :0) It was his prompting that first inspired me to begin wearing my hair in its curly state. He witnessed (in agony) the rise and fall in my self-esteem and mood as my hair changed (from straight to poofy) throughout the month. Since we were in school 3 hours north of St. Louis, I could no longer go to the salon on a regular basis. To make matters worse, my beautician passed away (I know right? She was only 35.Sad.) and I felt like I was up a creek without a paddle. My boyfriend was able to get me home about once every two to three months to get my hair done, and in the mean time, my head (to me) was an absolute wreck. I didn't know what to do with it! I'd never even washed my own hair, and I was totally unaware that I was suppose to be moisturizing it in between visits. Needless to say, my hair remained shoulder length during most of my 4 year undergrad career.
One night, my boyfriend sat me down and told me that he'd been observing me during our two years together, and that my mood seemed to be directly correlated with the current condition, or look of my hair. He thought it was unhealthy, and proposed that I start doing my own hair and wearing my natural texture. I knew he was right. Hell, I was a psych major. It wasn't healthy, but it didn't make it untrue. In the words of TLC, I felt 'unpretty' when my hair wasn't perfectly straight. And since my hair doesn't grow out of my scalp that way, I would always be unhappy and somewhat insecure until I learned to accept and love my hair for what it was MEANT to do. I took his advice. Well, sort of, lol.
In my junior year, I took matters into my own hands and purchased a Solia flat iron from folica.com. It was a God send, or so I thought. My hair was FLYYYY! And I could keep it looking fly...all the time...everyday....all day. It turned into an obsession, and I was using the damned thing once a week, sometimes more. In the beginning, for some reason, my hair flourished. It grew out from shoulder length to armpit length and it seemed to be doing quite well. It felt good to be able to have my hair done for every party, and every formal. Fast forward to the end of my senior year in college- I began two-strand twisting my hair with brown gel, rocking twist-outs and wearing puffs. I wore my hair out a couple of times, but I was very self-conscious (imagine- I combed mousse through wet damp hair...not a good look), and generally uncomfortable in my own skin. I'd alternate the natural styles with weeks of flat ironed hair. As time went on, I actually felt more comfortable wearing the twist-outs and puffs- I didn't have to worry about humidity, and they were easy to do. Plus, the curly hair made me feel special :0) I felt like I stood out from the crowd. Before I knew it, senior year was over and my soon to be fiance and I were off to graduate school, more than 800 miles away in the beautiful state of North Cackalack.
It was the winter after undergrad that I discovered and subsequently became completely addicted to naturallycurly.com. I was in the first semester of my graduate program at UNC Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) and trying to adjust to new surroundings. I was still alternating between straight styles, twists, and puffs, but all the while very interested in learning about and achieving healthy natural hair that rocked! The women of nc.com (Natakue, Eccentric, SuSu, Portae, Suburbanbushbabe, HeatherNicole, Subbrock, and too many others to name) provided me with invaluable information, unconditional support and inspiration. Unfortunately, I was still in the mindset that when I needed to attend job interviews, weddings, parties or anything 'important', my hair NEEDED to be straightened. I only wore my natural hair, when I was 'bumming'. Sad, but true.
In late 2006, I stopped flat ironing regularly. I decided that I was going to accept who I was, and so was everyone else! Since I stopped straightening, I no longer needed cones, so I adopted the Curly Girl method. Boy oh boy, did my hair begin to break! The cone-y products were hiding the years of damage- the repeated 400 degree flat-ironing sessions, the three highlighting experiences, and my ZERO moisture routine. My head was a mess. I had white dot breakage everywhere. My hair snapped off in bits and split like crazy. No products on this earth would've stopped the breakage- I had to suck it up and deal with the consequences of my actions. The women of nc.com and nappturality helped to nurse my hair back to health. I cut off the damage little by little- my micro trims continue to this day.
Fast forward to 2008 :0) I haven't flat ironed since Valentine's Day 2007 and before then, it had been 6 months or so as well, and my hair is truly thanking me for it. Almost all of the damage has grown out, but the ends remain weak (I have about 3-4 inches of color left), and I still conduct bi-weekly search & destroys. I'm finally retaining length, and I couldn't be happier. Live and learn, right? I will never color again, and it's highly unlikely that I'll straighten again (at least not regularly).
My husband loves my natural hair and actually requested that I wear it natural on our wedding day! I almost cried, because I thought he wanted to see it straight (he likes it straight too, and its been a while!). He has been nothing but supportive, and truth be told, HE is the reason I found the confidence to go natural. He made me look inside of myself and see that the cause of my psychological distress was my irrational belief about how my hair 'should' be. My self-awareness of this fact coupled with the education I've received from various forums have helped me get past the negativity. Unfortunately, everyone wasn't as accepting of my decision to go natural, but I'll have to save that story for another day :0)