A few months ago, I came across a website that featured a Nigerian lady. On looking at her pictures, I realised that she had natural hair. I always get excited about natural-haired Nigerians so I emailed her about the possibility of doing an “interview”, she graciously agreed and a few e-mails later, the interview in this post was done.
I think interviews are important because the interviewee has gone through an journey that others may wish to embark on and may learn from. Also, as you know I love to put up pictures of natural haired beauties on this blog, so here’s introducing Oby Bamidele!
NN: About Oby?
Oby: I am a Style and Image consultant. My original professional background was Accounting and Finance which I did for about 12 years. But my passion has always been in Fashion and Styling. I set up my first business in 2003, a Fashion Accessories label called Ellebury, a niche leather accessories label which retailed online and to boutiques across the UK. I sold the company in 2007 and since then studied Styling and Colour Analysis with top image consultants in London. I set up my current business, Style n Shine Consultancy (www.stylenshine.co.uk) to help women discover their authentic signature style as a way of redefining themselves, empowering them with confidence to achieve greater things in live. We are all unique, however society and media influences sometimes pressurises us into conforming to their definition of beauty. So I help my clients find their own style, one that reflects their personality, values and body shape, it’s not about wearing designer clothes or following current fashions but more about being true to you and having your own sense of style.
NN: Have you always had natural hair?
Oby: No! For many years I wore my hair chemically straightened until it started to thin out and lost much of its thickness, then I grew my hair out by having my hair in braids and twists until my hair grew to a good natural length for me to wear it out. This was in 2007, but it only lasted for a few months. I don’t think I was quite ready, I still felt very conscious of what other people thought, I felt I didn’t look beautiful and I had just moved out of London and couldn’t find a decent natural hair stylist where I lived. So I wore weaves and full lace wigs for another few years. They made my scalp really sore and my hair very difficult to comb when I took the weave out. After a while I started to question why I constantly hid my own hair, it seemed strange that God had blessed me with my own hair but I was bent on spending thousands of pounds to buy a Brazilian woman’s hair instead. Did that mean that my hair was inferior? To be honest I always felt a bit of a fraud wearing long straight hair which wasn’t mine and I suppose the older I got I really started to question my motives. On top of that, no matter how much I spent having a weave or full lace wig done, it never looked 100% right simply because it wasn’t my own hair!
NN: Why did you decide to go natural? When did you do it? How?
Oby: In summer of 2010 I decided to go natural, My hair was already natural, having had it covered in weaves for three years. So I had it trimmed and wore it out in an afro during the summer. I did colour my hair a cherry red, just to make it look more stylish and suit my personality.
NN: How did your family and friends react to your going natural?
Oby: Most people loved it, the people who didn’t kept their opinions to themselves which suited me just fine. Initially I did worry a lot about what people would say, but I decided that as long I liked it and my husband liked it then that was all that mattered.
NN: Any frustrations with going natural?
Oby: Having to put my hair in plaits at night to prevent it from shrinking. I love wearing my as an afro, but it takes more effort, so I usually have my hair in twists or do a twist out style when my schedule is busy.
NN: How do you manage to have natural hair and remain professional?
Oby: I style my hair to suit the occasion, so if I need to appear professional, I would hold my hair up in a bun, or backwards or wear my twists in a neat and simple style. Being a style consultant allows me the freedom to be more adventurous with my hair.
NN: What is your current hair regimen?
Oby: I am still learning how to look after my hair, so I am reading books about natural hair. I am currently reading “Going Natural, how to fall in love with nappy hair” by Mireille Liong, which is really useful. I wash my hair in a different way, I don’t use shampoos as these can be very harsh on afro hair, instead I condition my hair with mayonnaise mixed with olive and avocado oils which helps to restore the moisture. Then I rinse out and style with castor oil. I find this keeps my hair soft and untangled.
NN: Do you have a hair goal?
Oby: I would like it to grow enough to have a really big afro but most importantly I just want it to be 100% healthy, as my hair is still recovering from my pre-natural days.
NN: What is the one thing you have done with your hair that you think has made it healthy?
Oby: Not shampooing my hair anymore and using natural oils.
NN: Any tips for the ladies?
Oby: Read the book I mentioned it is really useful, You’ll find that going natural is a lot easier than perceived, you just have to know the right way to care for your hair. The reason why people find it difficult to have natural hair is because they treat Afro hair the same as European hair and there is a huge difference. Our hair needs more moisture and oils and many of the hair care methods we use are actually bad for our hair. Join natural hair forums like “going-natural.com” for inspiration and support. And be true to the real you, if you would like to go natural, then do it. Don’t be afraid to be unique and stand out, if people see you are confident about who you are and how you look, they will begin to admire and accept you. But first you have to accept yourself.