Interview with Klerissa McDonald Founder of Curly By Nature (& Competition)

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Klerissa McDonald

Klerissa McDonald is the founder and creative director of award winning UK Brand Curly By Nature.  She is based in North West London and has a family and two children aged 7 and 4. Not only has she perviously worked in salons styling hair she is has a BSc Honours in Management Sciences and Spanish and is also Certified in Advanced Natural Haircare Product Development.

I have had the pleasure in trying out her products past so she was kind enough to stop by the lounge for an interview and to give some products away. If you want to be in with a chance of winning read on.

Angel: When did you set up your business and why?
Klerissa: I set up Curly By Nature as a vehicle for my passion. I am driven to provide solutions for people- For people that have a desire to take great care of their hair, body and environment and for people that require guidance and support in taking good care of their hair. From the tender age of eight, I developed my passion to care for and style hair. I loved to be adventurous with hair, finding fun in creating beautiful protective styles on my own hair as well as family, friends and regular clients. After experiencing work life in several London salons, I witnessed the sad and shocking stories of chemical and heat damage that was plaguing the industry and the community. My desire to develop natural solutions for what I call ‘genetically curly’ hair began to grow. Instead of continuing to build a career in styling, I decided to focus on developing alternative effective natural haircare solutions to enhance and maintain the health of the hair and prevent common hair issues associated with heat and chemical treatments.

Angel: That is a wonderful reason to start, did you face any significant challenges?
Klerissa: The reality is that I experience challenges on a daily basis but it strengthening me, giving me character. For me, the biggest thing that I had to deal with was from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey is rejection and doubters. I have had many knock-backs on my journey with people saying that it may not work for various reasons. I stayed true to myself, remained positive and persevered. I learnt that when people do not understand you or your idea—it is easy for them to say that it won’t work. Having faith in yourself, understanding how to best communicate and making sure you know what you are talking about helped me to overcome my challenges.

Curly By Nature Moisture Shampoo

Angel: Staying true to yourself is a good positive way of dealing with challenges, so now what does Curly By Nature mean to you?
Klerissa: Our name Curly By Nature® was chosen because we specifically design our products and services for each person who is born with or naturally develops Genetically Curly Hair® despite its current condition, style, state and no matter one’s ethnic origin. In fact it is amazing for chemically straightened or coloured hair. The DNA helix logo represents the curls and bends in genetically curly air, it also represents ‘origination’ with curls being in our DNA. It represents nature and science which is what we employ to formulate high performance solutions. We truly are inspired by nature and pledge to only employ high quality pure ingredients sourced from around the world that has been proven to benefit the hair, scalp and environment.

Angel: So now you have the products, what makes them different to others on the market?Klerissa: Our formulations are very complex, high performing eco- luxe solutions using 100% naturally derived ingredients that nourish, strengthen and intensely moisturise the hair and scalp. We are Genetically Curly Hair® care experts taking pride in using traditional artisan methods to produce high performance hair care and focused on creating and delivering holistic solutions and education. We’re passionately dedicated to sourcing premium quality ingredients proven to benefit both your hair, scalp, body, family and the environment in the best possible way. What’s more, the therapeutic benefits gained from the purity, integrity and complexity of our formulations are truly second to none.

The Curly By Nature Healthy Haircare Kit, (Shampoo, Conditioning Mask and Hair Repair Oil)

Angel: Who would you say your products are for?
Klerissa: For people that have a desire to take great care of their hair, body and environment with high performing professional natural products and for people that require guidance and support in taking good care of their hair.

Angel: For someone wanting to try out your products where would you recommend they start?
Klerissa: Contact me directly at info@curlybynature.com I can direct them to their nearest salon or outlet to experience and or purchase.

Angel:  I have tried and really liked your Nourishing Gloss Balm it made my hair soft and shiny. What is your favourite product in your range?
Klerissa: Every product has a different function and are the best in its own category but overall, I would recommend the Hair Repair Oil because of it multi-purpose capabilities. It may be used as a detangler, Hot Oil Treatment, Oil rinse, scalp massage, heat protectant, sealant and it can double up with other products if you need more moisture.

Nourishing Gloss Balm

Angel: Moving away from CBN Who inspires you and why?
Klerissa: I have many sources of inspiration including my husband, mother, father, family, peers, other beauty brand founders and bloggers. However, my daughter and my cousin truly ignited my inspiration. My cousin is biracial with lovely tight curls, her mother is white with beautiful curly hair, her father is black with dreadlocks. I used to babysit her from when she was a baby and as she got older I used to do style her hair with designer canerow’s hair from time to time. I then trained her and her mother how to take care of it as she got older and independent. It was then when I understood the need for everyday people to access quality advice and products. When I had my daughter (now aged 4), my desire to serve people with honest haircare solutions (both products & services) with integrity was at its most strongest. Not only did I NOT want her and every other child to experience that sad reality of what many curlies have previously experienced (and currently experiencing) with burns (from chemical processing & heat), breakage, damage, self image issues, confidence issues, badmouthing, abusing, neglecting or even hiding one’s own hair and the list goes on. I have continuously been inspired to personally help people through sharing my expertise and products for the whole family to use, that is effective on curls despite your ethnicity and that benefits the body and environment too.

Klerissa's Daughter

Klerissa’s Daughter

Angel: Tell us your hair story?
Klerissa: In short, I have done almost everything you can imagine. I was in love with my natural hair from when I was a toddler. My mother encouraged me to take care of it myself so I have done so independently from the age of 8. When I was 17 I experimented with relaxer. It was great at first but despite taking good care of it with professional care and attention, the chemicals and I did not get on – and the crown fell out. After that I listened to my body and stopped relaxing it. I have learnt through both expert training and experience that there is so much more to healthy hair care and it should be viewed holistically. Being anaemic and low in Vitamin D makes me more at risk to breakage and thinning so a healthy balanced diet, a high water intake and using Curly By Nature has a tremendous impact on the health of my hair. So far I have worn many styles including wigs, weaves and have recently coloured it for the first time plus I have big chopped 3 times. I think that people should have the freedom to experiment and express themselves through their hair without being boxed into a stereotype. However, I know that loving your natural self is essential for great healthy hair which boosts confidence and in practice, hair health must come before styling.

Klerissa Hair Story

Angel:  Gosh my hair started falling out in relaxer too…Klerissa In my opinion you have both the qualifications and the experience to work in this field, what is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to make their own products?
Klerissa: RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. Use multiple strategies and research methods. Test your theories and conduct as much primary research as possible—this is a great way to learn about how they can achieve their goals easier and faster.  Share your idea and thoughts and get feedback. Make sure you are compliant with the current EU regulations and do lots of product testing making sure that it is safe to use. There is no point reinventing the wheel. Get advice from people who have ‘been there and done it’ what can you learn from them?

Angel:  Finally It was mentioned on my facebook group recently how women feel pressured to maintain defined curls and twist outs and that just wearing a fro is not considered beautiful. What are your thoughts?
Klerissa: I think that this statement may be true for some people. I love curls, fro’s and all the above- defined or not. In all honesty, I, have been one of those people- I think mostly because I represent a company called “Curly By Nature” so people naturally look at my hair and judge automatically. Pressure is not the word lol. I realised that there is a fine line and it is easy to get caught up in other people’s expectation of what they think I should look like. I decided that whilst I am the no.1 brand ambassador, I will not conform to other people’s expectations and do what’s best for me and my sanity. In fact, I recently cut and coloured my hair- everyone (I mean EVERYONE!) questioned my motivation. The truth is, as long as you are grooming your hair with tender love and care (using Curly By Nature lol) and enhancing the health of your hair, it should not matter whether you define your curls or not and you should not make that define you- in my opinion.

Angel…Wait before you go, you used to style hair?? Can you do mine?
LOL! I offer holistic consultations and treatment programmes and services (For more info please email info@curlybynature.com) I occasionally style hair but would prefer to recommend an amazing salon called Adornment365 in Brixton. I currently do hair care consultations there and the stylists are professional and actually care for your hair.

COMPETITION TIME

WIN WIN WIN

Win a set from Curly By Nature of Moisture Shampoo, Intensive Conditioning Mask, Hair Repair Oil & Nourishing Gloss Balm

Or be one of 3 Shampoo’s

Like and Comment on this post on The Natural Lounge Website
Like the Curly By Nature Facebook Page
Visit the Curly By Nature Website HERE to sign up to their newsletter

UK entries only, winners to be announced on 21st April

Full Terms and Conditions can be found HERE

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Crown & Glory an Album Dedicated to Natural Hair (Win a copy!)

Anitra Jay is a R&B/Soul singer-songwriter based in Nashville and a while back she appeared in The Natural Lounge as a Natural Inspiration and offered us a free download of one of her songs.  (You can read her contribution here).

I was lucky to stay in touch and was delighted to hear that she has released a five song acoustic soul album all about the beauty of natural hair, it is called Crown & Glory.  I find that lately that some music genres I once enjoyed have become overcomplicated, with so many effects and very limited lyrics. I realise more and more that I prefer a less is more approach when it comes to songs. So I very much enjoyed listening Anitra and her guitar.

My favourite song was ‘Beautiful Mane’ where she talks about self acceptance (allowing herself to love her hair the way it grows) I also enjoyed the remix of “The Natural Hair Song,” featuring Original Soul, a hip-hop artist out of Dallas, TX.

You aren’t going to the club with this album, but I can see it playing softly in the background whilst you are relaxing somewhere nice, your garden, in front of the fire or with friends over dinner.

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Win yourself a copy of the album

 

Anitra has kindly given me copies to give away to two lucky readers. If you want to win just comment  on this post with an answer to the following “if you had one word to describe natural hair what would it be?”
(UK entries only)

For more information about Anitra visit her website www.anitrajay.com

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Spotlight on Secrets of the Afro Comb

Hey everyone

As you know I believe that children need to see as many books, toys, dolls, etc. featuring good images that look like them as possible.   So when Secrets of the Afro Comb, 6,000 Years of Art and Culture author asked The Natural Lounge to be one of the stops on her blog tour, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. Not only that but at the very end of this article you have the chance to win a signed copy of the book…or even a grand prize…read on for details

Front cover

You could win a copy of this

Kandace, do you consciously put illustrations in your children’s books that always show images of natural hair?

Yes and no.  As I mentioned in your Natural Inspiration series (previous post here), I’ve been natural for more than a decade so it’s a lifestyle choice for me but subconsciously that influences my work.

However, because in ancient times most people of African descent wore natural hairstyles and my books are usually about Black history prior to enslavement, natural hair is just the norm to show.

As part of the research for the book, were there any hairstyles in particular that stood out over time?
Quite a few actually but one in particular is this short twisted hairstyle which appears both as a hairstyle and also has wigs modelled on it.  I am fascinated by this style and would like to do more research into it.  It’s found in ancient Egypt and among Nigerian elites about 100 years ago as shown in the book but I didn’t mention that I’ve also seen something similar in ancient Greece and I’d like to follow that up.

Illustration showing Queen Kawit having her hair done. Copyright @ Golden Destiny Ltd 2013

Illustration showing Queen Kawit having her hair done. Copyright @ Golden Destiny Ltd 2013

Kushites in the Berlin Museum

Kushites in the Berlin Museum

Are you planning to work on more books, perhaps solely focused on natural hair?
Yes I am.  I actually have ideas for 3 different books just about natural hair.  None of these books have been done by anyone and thinking about it, that’s surprising.  The winner of the grand prize on this blog tour will be featured in the first book.

The print that is also a part of the grand prize giveaway is based on an illustration in the book.  I know that you don’t illustrate so how did you choose the styles to feature?
For that illustration, I could fit in eight hairstyles comfortably so we showed short and longer Afros, cornrows, locks, twists and an Afro puff style.  These are all styles that children today can identify with yet are also all more historical than most people realise.  I just gave the suggestions and the artist came up with the final look which I was delighted with and has received good feedback.

Print that you can win

Print that you can win as part of the grand prize

Did you find any surprising information when you were writing the book?
Where do I start? There were so many surprises Angel.  As you know, the book was written initially as part of last summer’s Origins of the Afro Comb exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.  One thing that the research threw up and deserves more research is the role of hair and hair combs during captivity in the Americas and the Caribbean.  Did you know that hair combs belonging to enslaved people had been found on plantations?  I didn’t!

It makes sense really when you think about it because the enslaved people would have wanted to hold on to their identity in terrible circumstances that denied their humanity.  Many were coming from cultures where their hairstyle had cultural meaning.


The Secrets of the Afro Comb book is actually a mix of hair biology and Black history combined together?  Was this easy?
No, it was really challenging to be honest, Angel.  It does make the book a bit unusual in that it’s not just about the characteristics of natural hair or just about history but most people do seem to like that.

I actually found the hair biology part of the book harder than the history part but it was important to explain African hair type in a child-friendly way so that I could explain African combs.  African combs are of course art but they’re also often tools for grooming natural hair.

I was so challenged by making sure that the hair biology was written simply enough.  If you remember, that’s when I approached you to have a read of the draft wasn’t it?

Illustration from the Secrets of the Afro Comb Book

Illustration from the Secrets of the Afro Comb Book

Yes, and thank you for mentioning that in the acknowledgments. So, apart from seeing positive images of themselves which I think is so important, are there other ways that you think children could benefit from your book?
To be honest, I think that equally important is having the information about why their natural hair is the way it is.We can all describe the characteristics of African hair type, I mean we can describe how Black hair is but explaining why it is the way it is, that’s a different matter.
Children can really benefit from reading about their hair type in a positive book and from seeing an illustration of a curved hair follicle with a darker skin tone rather than the round hair follicle with a straight light-coloured hair that is usually featured in books and online on children’s science websites.

 
You told me that you came across something a bit absurd when you were doing the research for this book.  Can you share that with us?
Did I?  Oh yes!  I realised that most of the research into African hair is conducted by relaxer companies.   Their reports often state that Black hair is not versatile and needs to be relaxed in order to get into different hairstyles.  When I read that, I was so shocked.

This is why I believe it is good to know more about the history of hair and of natural hairstyles over thousands of years.  If anything we haven’t even begun to touch the range of hairstyles people wore in the past.

 

Well, Kandace, thank you for stopping by The Natural Lounge on your tour.
Thank you for having me Angel!

Kandace will be appearing in all these blogs as part of her tour

Sunday 5th October –  The Calabash Hub

Monday 6th October –  The Natural Lounge

Tuesday 7th Ocotber – That Healthy Feeling

Wednesday 8th October – United Kinkdom

Thursday 9th – TBC

About the Author
Kandace (writing as K.N. Chimbiri) is the author and publisher of three ancient African history books for children; the history-themed activity book, Step back in time to ancient Kush, The Story of Early Ancient Egypt and Secrets of the Afro comb, 6,000 years of art and culture.

Kandace Chimbiri

Kandace Chimbiri

Her idea was simple: create the books that would be there if the world was fair. She aims to create books that are positive for children of African descent

Secrets of the Afro Comb, 6,000 Years of Art and Culture (ISBN 978-0-9562525-3-1) is available from Amazon click here for details or from the author’s website www.goldendestiny.co.uk. Ages 8+

 

COMPETITION TIME

I hope you were reading carefully – I have a signed copy of the Secrets of the Afro Comb book to giveaway today. To enter, leave your answer to this question in the comments box below on the Natural Lounge website

All you have to do is tell me “which museum exhibition in Cambridge was this book written for?” And for once this competition is to anyone  worldwide but closes on the 25th October. 

Don’t worry if you don’t win today because at the end of the blog tour, all commentators across all the participating blogs will be entered into a fantastic grand prize draw. If you win the grand prize draw, you will:

*Be captured as a black & white line drawing in Kandace’s forthcoming book. Imagine seeing your face and your favourite natural hairstyle illustrated in a book.

• Get a limited-edition museum quality print of the illustration we discussed above. Keep it for yourself or gift it to a treasured child as colourful and positive artwork for their bedroom wall.

• Receive an autographed copy of Secrets of the Afro Comb, 6,000 Years of Art and Culture.

 GOOD LUCK ALL 

 

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