Rochelle Crystal Brooks-Ford is a born and bread londoner who lives with her mum in Wandsworth. Rochelle is a popular Natural Hair blogger so many of you will know her better as Crystal Afro. Crystal blogs about everything, events, hair products and more. I was pleased she decided to join me for a chat in The Natural Lounge, here is her interview.
So before we start tell us some little known facts about you
Until recently I don’t think many people knew my first name is Rochelle. Crystal is actually one of my many middle names including “Crystal Claire”. It’s a long story!
I was a finalist in Miss Jamaica UK 2010. Oh, and I recently started a new blog, but I’ll share more info on that, once there’s more to tell.
I’m sure we went natural around the same time and have watched the UK market grow can it do anymore growing? Is there anymore space for new bloggers, products, youtubers etc.
YES!! Definitely, everyone’s story is unique and a fantastic opportunity to inspire others. In fact I’d encourage more natural ladies to get online, get blogging and as I said before, “Be seen!” None us ladies can re-adjust the balance of representation alone. It takes support from one and other. The more of us there are, the stronger we’ll be and the more changes we’re likely to see, so I definitely encourage more women who are going natural to share their experiences and “Be Seen!”
Crystal you are everywhere, where do you find time to blog, tweet, youtube, facebook, etc?
It used to be fine but I’m working more often now so it’s a lot harder. Also, the keypad on my phone broke earlier in the year, which meant my twitter life went on hold – I hated it, but it did help me find a new love for Instagram, where the pictures can do the talking.
I think the amount of time I spent on the blog etc seems strange to my family and friends sometimes, but I’m passionate about my subject.
On the other hand there are so many new forms of social media that I just choose to be honest with myself and only update the platforms I feel like, when I feel like it. I abandoned my Tumblr for weeks! Lol
What do you do when you are not blogging?
At the moment when I’m not blogging I’m working on ideas for an exhibition that’s opening this July called The Origins Of The Afro Comb (which everyone is welcome to take part in). In my day job I am a freelance Dresser and currently working on The Lion King.
What inspired you start blogging about natural hair?
A few things, firstly the Kobena Mercer quote I came across in University:
“What does the Black spectator identify with when his/ her mirror image is structurally absent or present only as Other?”(Mercer K, 1996)
That question really had a huge impact on me and was one of the driving forces in my decision to go natural and to blog about it.
The impact of history on today’s definitions of beauty in modern Britainare obvious, and Black women still have a fair way to go before we can honestly say our natural hair is equally accepted and celebrated for it’s beauty in mainstream British society. Starting my blog was just my mini contribution towards evening out the playing fields. As the quote suggests, it’s so important to be seen, and have people we can identify with. Consequently, your blog (The Natural Lounge) was a huge inspiration to me! It was the first British natural hair blog that I ever read, and everything you said seemed to echo my thoughts entirely. Seeing that you were doing this, inspired me to believe I really could do the same.
Aww thank you hun thats really nice. Has your life changed in anyway way since you started?
Yea definitely! I knew social media was the new thing but I never realised it’s life changing ability until now. I’ve met SO many new people who for a while I only knew as “@SoandSo” now we meet up for dinner, shopping, staying over and even baby showers! It’s definitely gone beyond social media and hair.
There are so many other things that have happened that I never imagined, and that still take me by surprise, like being contacted by journalists, or being featured in Black Hair Magazine. It makes me get all nervous and excited. I still get surprised when Im offered free products to try for reviews, or to write for a major blog like Naturalbelle, or asked to do interviews like this one. I keep saying thank you to God for the blessings, I’m truly amazed and grateful.
Your hair always looks lovely, what are your favourite products and what is your hair regime?
I think I have a different answer for every time I’ve been asked this. I promise I’m not a liar, it’s just that my favourite is always changing but at the moment I love everything I’ve tried from the Keracare Natural Textures range including the Leave-In, the Hair Milk and the Butter Cream. Also, Shea Bliss Deep Conditioner by BeUnique Hair Care, Jamaican Black Castor Oil, and Tresemme Naturals Vibrantly Smooth Conditioner.
My hair routine is pretty basic:
I pre-poo with a mix of Olive Oil and a cheap conditioner (sometimes I just use the Tresemme Naturals conditioner on it’s own). I do this mainly to make detangling my hair easier.
Then I shampoo, deep condition, rinse and follow up with a leave-in conditioner while my hair is still wet, and a little castor oil on my scalp. I usually style my hair while it’s wet, or if I’m about to go to bed, just put it in chunky twists to dry.
Tell us about your work on the Afro Comb’s Exhibition in Cambridge, what’s it all about?
I’m part of the committee helping to put together the Origins Of The Afro Comb exhibition that will open July 2nd 2013. The exhibition is a pretty major one with items on loan from the British Museum, Petrie Museum and I think we have some stuff coming over from the University of Nigeria. It’s a look at the 6,000 year old history of the Afro Comb from the Pre-Dynastic period of Egypt to the 21st Century in the UK and North America.
I’m really excited about it as afro combs are not only iconic, but studying their development though the centuries sheds so much light on the various circumstances and practices of societies and cultures across Africa and the Diaspora.I’m particularly keen to place emphasis on the British experience, as ours (Black British) is no where near as well documented as that of Americans and some others.
Anything you wanna share with the readers?
I’ll be tweeting and posting links, updates and opportunities to get involved in the Origins Of The Afro Comb exhibition as often as I can, so if any one want to get in touch please do.
In the mean time people are welcome to take part on Instagram by posting pictures of your hair tools and using the hastag: #AfroCombEx. There have been some really creative pictures
Thank you so much for your time Crystal. Reading this back and looking at your photos I am regretting not asking you how you keep your skin looking so lovely!! hahaha
Anyway readers you can visit Cystal’s blog by going to www.unitedkinkdom.blogspot.co.uk