Paola, pictured above, shared a bit of her story with me over a glass of vino rojo–
“I was born in a small town in Dominican Republic, my mother sent me to a boarding school in Spain when I was four years, so I could have a better future and a better education than in my country, because the chances to improve in DR are very complicated for the poor.
Most of my life I accepted the straight haired standard of beauty, because that is what the DR culture promotes. When you’re small, you see your family and friends going once a week to get their hair done and relaxed at the salon. Three years ago I met Veronica (pictured below, purple hair!) and my group of friends, and they kept asking me why didn’t I rock my natural hair, but I was still seeing me with my hair straight prettier than curly. One day I decided to take the plunge and go natural. People used to tell me that I was more beautiful with straight hair, but I accepted my roots and my hair, and now I’m in love with my curls!
Here in Spain, people stare at my curly hair all the time and others are surprised and want to touch it, as if it were something weird to them. I live in a Dominican neighborhood and I receive comments like, ‘don´t you have money to go to the salon and do your hair?’. People still have prejudices about natural hair but little by little they are adapting and increasingly more people are going natural.”
Paola copped several Jessicurl products at my birthday party celebration with ‘Go Natural Spain‘! She loved the Aloeba Daily Conditioner and is smitten with the Rockin’ Ringlets Syling Potion. Her curly roommate Veronica reminded her that, ‘sharing is caring’, but she’s hearing none of it! They don’t have access to curly products here, so she’s savoring every last bit! She used Jessicurl for her look that night!
After a few drinks at the flat, we set out on foot to meet Paola’s friends at ‘Are You Ready‘ salon. They are one of the first salons in Madrid that caters to the amazingness that is natural and highly textured tresses.
The salon owners, Jessica Rodriguez-
and hubby, Leo Tobachi (photographed below, with my hubby)-
have an amazingly gorgeous Boogie daughter (left)-
and have really brought home the message that curly hair is (1) dope, and (2) has special needs. So, long time stylist Jessica set out on her own and opened a shop dedicated to working with OUR hair types! Much of the amazing hair colors we’ve shared with your eyeballs were executed by her and I.C.O.N. brand semi-permananent hair dye, which touts ‘gentle, natural, ammonia-free, vibrancy’.
Speaking of which, see homegirl with the purple hair? That’s Veronica and I’m proud to call her, ‘friend’. She’s a stylist at ‘Are You Ready?’ and told me a little of her story–
“I live in Madrid becuse my family moved here when I was five years old, I was born in San Sebastian, north of Spain. I started wearing my afro when I was 17, but I had worn hair extensions, braids and relaxers before. I had my big chop about 6 years ago… I needed a change and I was tired of damaging my hair with chemicals and heat, like blow dryers and flat irons.
My family and friends just love my natural hair, my White family can’t stop touching it! lolPeople in Spain are not used to seeing big afros or Black women with natural hair, so they talk and make jokes. Other people ask if I wear a wig or ‘where I bought it’, most of them like it and tell me so… they just need time and to see more Blackness over here. That’s what we at AreYouReady? salon are trying to do. We do spanish and black hair and take care not to damage it using natural products, most of our customers are women who had their hair burned or broken by over-processing with relaxers, bad coloring or excessive heat.
My favorite thing about being natural is that I don’t depend on going to the salon to get my hair done, or changing the extensions… I wake up and go! Obviously, natural hair takes a lot of work to keep it nice and healthy. You need to use good products and take a little bit of time once per week at least but it is worth it! You have to enjoy what nature gives you and be happy and confident with it!”
At any rate, we hooked up with the folks of ‘Are You Ready’ and dipped to Morocco!
Well, we wanted to, but we went to a nice Moroccan restaurant instead! Complete with floor seating, shared finger dishes, drinks and laughs. Enjoy the view!
Sugar and spice and everything nice! Many of the dishes were a mixture of sweet and savory… LOVE!!!! #ILikePeanutsAndRaisinsSoThisWasAWin
See dude in the purple (above)? That’s Paola’s boo, Dosel, and he’s heavily involved in a community group called, Barbarrio.
Barbarrio is a group of young athletes who came together to train and participate in what is called- ‘Street Workout’. It started in Harlem, NYC and Dosel was one of the first to bring it to Madrid. He is now taking the movement to Africa starting with Cape Verde. The group is made up of people from different countries, races, cultures and ages. It’s purpose is to create peaceful integration between folks of different cultures and to educate and empower young people on how to get healthy, even when their access to a gym or other resources are limited by poverty. Essentially, they’re showing folks how they can get get their work out on utilizing tools in their environment, while teaching both self-esteem and self-discipline. Very cool stuff. Check out the video below!
I’ll check back in soon! More Spanish Curly profiles from ‘Go Natural Spain‘ to come with Awanda and Captain Alvaro!