I made the transition to embrace my natural hair texture. I did a big chop. And I had been wearing my hair chemically relaxed at that point for about 12 years. Because I did have a chemical relaxer and I had also tried a new contraceptive, my hair began to break. I was like, "You know, let me just stop going against my natural texture and embrace it and see how I can begin to style my hair and love my hair in a natural state in which God has given me."

What was going through my mind was being accepted. Number one, accepting myself. Am I ready for this? Will I feel beautiful about the decision that I made? Because most of my peers were wearing their hair straight. At that time, to be natural was a huge step. And everyone else wasn't feelin' that. So I mean, I did get the "nappy hair" and "Why don't you just perm it?" and "What are you going through?" Being natural is the trend now. And it's so awesome that so many girls and young ladies will never have to experience what I went through and so many of my peers went through at such a young age.

michael bryant / Staff Photographer

It took a minute to fully embrace it. It was so liberating to me. I no longer had to conform to what society deemed beautiful. I was happy to be nappy. I decided to make that choice a little over two decades ago and it has allowed me to feel more confident, to embrace my individuality. I just feel more beautiful. And it was a way of connecting me back to my roots.

Through the transition of just embracing my natural texture has caused me to take on this proud-to-be-African lifestyle.

michael bryant / Staff Photographer

I am a beautician by trade, but I transition women and children from chemically relaxed hair to embracing their natural texture. And just letting them know how beautiful we are as a people. In 2004, I took a stand and decided I was no longer going to offer that service because, to me, it was a huge contradiction to who I was as a cosmetologist. I claimed to be a healthy hair-care stylist, but yet I was offering this chemical service that totally depleted and compromised the health and integrity of women's hair. So I decided to go all natural in my hair salon.

I felt conviction. It just felt right in my heart. And that's what gave me the motivation to continue to do it.

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