My name is Alesha Sullivan. I am from Memphis, TN but I currently live in Nashville, TN working as a quality assurance software test lead (although I am thinking of getting my cosmetology license and starting a hair and skin care line with my best friend). I am 25 years old (but I might be 26 when you read this – BIRTHDAY is March 18th!!). I love to sing, dance, read, and learn all I can about all kinds of hair! I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a BS in Economics and then went on to receive my MS in Economics at the University of North Carolina.
How long have you been natural?
I have been natural for around 8 months now. No one ever believes me when I say this, but it’s true!
What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
I decided to transition because I knew the potential that my natural hair could have. I felt I had ‘mastered’ my permed hair, and wanted to see what my natural hair was like. My mother took great care of my hair when I was growing up, and she only relaxed my hair at the age of 10 because she was diagnosed with cancer, and grew too ill to take care of it in its natural state. As a relaxed head, my hair was long and healthy, but after my mother passed, my hair slowly started to break off. I finally decided that I really needed to start taking care of my hair again when I was around 21. I was shoulder length at the time, and it was the shortest my hair had ever been.
Once I began taking good care of my hair, I grew it from shoulder length to middle back length with no problem. The main thing that frustrated me about relaxed hair was the lack of versatility in styling. I loved curly hair and bone straight natural was boring. So I transitioned, and here I am. J
Being that I had middle back length hair, I just couldn’t see myself ‘Big chopping’, so I transitioned for 2 years and 4 months before chopping the permed ends.
How would you describe your hair?
I would describe my hair as a mixture of cotton and coils. Some areas coil with ease, while other areas look like cotton unless I coax it into a coiled position. I’m a definite 4a/4b mix.
What do you love most about your hair?
I love the versatility of my hair (cliché I know, but it’strue). My curl pattern allows me to rock an afro at a whim, but I can also mimic looser curl patterns (with enough styling effort). Some textures can’t do this as easily.
What has been the most memorable part of your journey?Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
I would say the most memorable part of my journey was the way I ended my transition. I was trying to make it to 3 years before cutting, but one day I got extremely frustrated during a detangling session. I was in the car on a trip home from Knoxville, TN (3 hour ride). For some reason, I thought I was about to detangle 2 + years of growth in the front seat of this car with no styling products, no real comb, and no real patience. I gave up, got super frustrated and decided right then that when I got back to Nashville that I was headed to the store to get hair shears: it was time to end the transition. I cut the perm off myself, and I haven’t looked back.
What are were some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles?
I relied heavily (and gratefully) on wigs during my transition. I wore wigs that looked like natural hair so that I could get used to how I would look with natural hair. I also loved wearing a faux puff during my transition. So a lot of people didn’t know that I wasn’t natural and didn’t realize when I had “big chopped”. So my transition was pretty seamless.
My favorite current hair styles are puffs, braid outs, twist outs, bantu knot twist outs, and up-dos on old twist outs. I try to let it do its thing most of the time.So it’s just a rotation of these.
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural?’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
I have come to find out that everyone (for the most part) is very intrigued, but accepting, of my hair. I let it do what it wants to do for the most part, and I think people admire that. Our hair can be a form of expression and my hair has a lot of lost time to make up for, so it has a lot to say.
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
I wash my hair about once every 1 ½ to 2 weeks. I have recently added bentonite clay as a wash product and Iam loving it. So I wash with a bentonite clay mask.Afterward, I usually just apply a leave in (shea moisture hair milk) followed by my shea butter mix (raw sheabutter and some of my favorite oils whipped together), then twist it up, let it dry for a day or two, then take down for a twist out. I usually wear my twist outs for 2 -3 days before putting in a puff, or retwisting for another twist out. During the week, I spritz with water and follow that with applying my shea butter mix. This continues until it’s time for the next wash day. Very simple. J
What are some of your favorite natural hair websites, vloggers, or bloggers?
I love curlynikki, naptural85, mahoganycurls,blackgirllonghair, and so many other inspiring women. I am loving this movement!
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?
I would definitely want them to know that there is so much information and so many people in this community who are ready and willing to help you on this journey. So if you’re thinking about it, or have made the decision and are having some trouble, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I have encountered so much love, positivity, and encouragement during my short time being natural,and it is truly amazing. We are like a big family, and we are all learning and growing together.
Where can people find you for more information?
I am very active on Instagram @aleshanokeys I can also be reached via email for questions at firstname.lastname@example.org