Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Natural Hair, Beautiful Textures Weekend

Felicia Leatherwood
Photo courtesy of The Garner Circle

"You have found out more about yourself than your hair," said Felicia Leatherwood to a packed room of vibrant women with afros, twists, braids, low cut fades and locs at the Omni Hotel in San Francisco.  The beautiful celebrity stylist came to the Bay to promote a new line of products called Beautiful Textures.   These products are from Strength of Nature, the same company that sells African Pride.  Felicia, or as some call her, "The Hair Whisperer" has whipped up styles on such stars as Jill Scott and Kim Coles.  Bloggers Karen Byrd of Naturally Beautiful Hair and Natural Selection's Cassadie Blackwell partnered with Beautiful Textures to host the shindig. There was food, free products and cool vendors. The event was free, but Felicia's hair tips were priceless. I'll get to her hair knowledge in just a bit.

Photo courtesy of The Garner Circle

I agree with Felicia that I've learned more about myself since putting down the hot comb.  Being your true self is unexplainably liberating. As a woman, and person of color, you go through life sometimes not being yourself in fear of being labeled or rejected. How many of us straightened our hair because we thought we wouldn't get a job, have no love life or get the "militant" label because kinky hair fell under the "unattractive" category? Going natural, especially in my 30s, showed me how much I desired to just be. Like Mary J. Blige sang, "Take me as I am, or have nothing at all."  Take me as I am includes the hair God made for my head.

A group of friends hanging out at the Beautiful Textures Event
Aren't they cute?!
Photo Credit Jenee Darden

On to the hair pointers...Felicia said hair is like a plant. "Every time you touch your hair, talk to it with love, " she said. And we know that natural hair, like any style, can frustrate the heck out of you when it's not looking like the style you saw on Youtube.  This is so true for early naturals. Whatever happens,  Felicia warns  "do not let the creamy crack you back." Which is why Karen Byrd advised new naturals to be patient. "One day you will love your hair," she said.

Felicia really pushed for clipping ends. "Don't be afraid of the scissors." Split ends can stunt hair growth. And she suggested we seal ends at night with a little argan oil.

Her blow-drying tip was one of my favorites. If you blow dry your hair to cut your ends, Felicia said half way down the hair, turn the dryer to a cool setting. Your ends are basically dead hair. No need to put too much heat on the hair and cause damage.


Roz Williams attended the event. She's 55! Can you believe it? 
Her secret is working out 3-4 times a week and eats a lot of veggies. 
Simply radiant. And her hair is fun and fierce. 
Photo Credit Jenee Darden

For those into dyes and wanting something eco-friendly, she recommended Tints of Nature from Whole Foods.  Felicia said it's a vegetable tint that's safe to use at home. She said the downside to box color (ex: dyes you buy at drug stores or hair supply stores), is that you don’t know how much chemical is in it. You don't know the amount of bleach and peroxide. She also said to always ask your stylist what kinds of products are they using on your hair and what are they doing to your hair. "If it smells funny, be concerned."

Her hair looks like artwork. This was my favorite style.
Photo Credit Jenee Darden

Frontal view of the style
Photo Credit Jene Darden

If you are rocking locs, Felicia suggests you wash your hair three times during a wash. She said the first time you wash, the water makes the buildup stick so your hair is not quite clean. Buildup gets looser during the second wash. Third wash gets it clean.

If you two-strand twist like I do, untwist from the bottom up. Twisting from the scalp down can damage the hair. Ooops, I've been doing it wrong. 


Show your scalp from love by massaging it. If you've been having scalp issue Felicia said sometimes it's not about what you're putting on your body, but into your body. "Sugar can have a negative effect on the scalp." She shared how some clients would have itchy scalps after the holidays. Those sweet potato pies, Halloween candies, German chocolate cake and sweet drinks can mess up your scalp.

Felicia Leatherwood is awesome.  She's heading across the pond for Paris to promote Beautiful Textures. I have not tried the products yet. Strong smells turn me off. The products smell good so they passed that test. If I like it, I'll let you know.  In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the photos.

On the right Robin Rogers. She's in her 50's and going on 40. 
Photo Credit- Jenee Darden



Kickin' it with fellow media divas and naturalistas  @cicelyj  and @chasmassmith


Where's Cocoa Fly? Can you find me? 
Photo courtesy of The Garner Circle







Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Directors of Dark Girls

I love Cocoa Fly but it's not paying the bills, yet. So I have a day job which I also love. I do media work for a nonprofit that advocates for rights for people with mental health challenges.  I host their podcast "Mental Health and Wellness Radio." I've interviewed amazing people on this show. When the documentary Dark Girls came to the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, I interviewed directors Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry for Cocoa Fly and MHW Radio. I truly enjoyed speaking with them. The film is a a documentary about colorism or hue-discrimintation in the black community. How sad that we've been living with this light-skinned vs. dark-skinned vs. brown-skinned stuff for hundreds of years. But's it's not just in the black community. Latinos, Asians and other cultures also have this problem. But back to my day job, I hosted and produced a podcast about the film and the psychological effects of colorism.

Listen and let me know what you think.




*** The photo above is of D. Channsin Berry and Bill Duke (l-r) backstage at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. I took their picture.***

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cocoa Fly's Thank God It's Natural WINNERS

Thanks to everyone who entered. It was tough to narrow it down to 2 winners. Both women will receive a TGIN sample pack. Trust me, the pack will last you a while.

Our first winner is Ambi who listed many natural features she loves about herself:

Naturally what I love about myself are my eyes, I sometimes stare into them myself from the mirror.I too have dark skin and I love my complexion. Although I do not need a tan, I love to sun bathe!Nothing compares to the feeling of sunshine on my skin.* I also love the softness and fullness of my thick curly hair, smoothness of my skin and my luscious lips.  Just to name a few-I could go on & on.
Nothing is wrong with making a long list of things to love about yourself Miss Ambi. Hmmm...now there's a thought. Ladies, when you have time just write a list with all of the things you love about yourself. Not what other people think or love, but what YOU love about yourself. What are the characteristics and features that you are so thankful to have?

Our second winner is Miss Annette. I'm typing this in bed and her entry reminded me that I need to wash off my makeup. She wrote that aside from hair natural curls, she's fond of her natural facial beauty:


"I like my natural face because I rarely wear makeup. Not that I don't want to, just never learned to apply properly apply. LOL! " 

Keeping pores free from makeup is great for the skin. And since the cosmetic industry is unregulated (some makeup carries a lot of toxins), not having skills with a powder brush isn't such a bad thing. Keep rocking that fresh and beautiful face of yours Miss Annette.

Thanks to TGIN for being so kind and sharing their products with Cocoa Fly readers. Read my review and check out their website for some of their goodies.  Thanks to everyone for their inspiring submissions. In the meantime, work on this self-love lists. And look out for more giveaways.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cocoa Fly Lands at the
Image Expo Part 1

(L-R) Enrique Carrion, Cocoa Fly, Rafael Diaz, Evilio Tamayo

 Superheroes, villains, mutants and folks that have no business in spandex are invading Anaheim, Calif. this weekend. Yep, Wondercon is in full effect. Usually it's held in San Francisco but rumor has it that it Wondercon temporarily moved to Anaheim this year because of construction at the the Moscone Center. I hope that's true since SoCal already has Comicon.  I didn't think I would get my comic fix this year until I heard about the first Image Expo in Oakland. Image Comics hosted the convention last month. Image Comics is a more forward-thinking publisher promoting independence.  It's  "a place where writers and artists [can] bring new ideas—and own them. Not just a piece of those ideas but the whole things, " Founding Partner Erik Larsen wrote. Sounds like Image Comics doesn't want other artists and writers to end up like such people as the Superman creators. 

Anatomically, ahem, correct
 Batman mannequin
Image Comics is not like "The Big Two" aka DC and Marvel comics. I definitely got more on an indi, hip vibe at the convention. I went on Saturday and didn't see people dressed up in costume like at Wondercon. I  saw one dude with a Batman t-shirt.  I love the flamboyance at Wonder/Comicon, but I really enjoyed the Image Expo. The Womanthology workshop about women in comics was awesome. I'll write up a post about that soon. And I found more of the artists to be out of the box and edgier than those working for "The Big Two." And on a shallow note, I met a lot of cute guys (*wink, wink*).

Speaking of cute comic geeks, the picture to the upper left are  the brains behind the comic Vescell.  It's only 7-issues old. The storyline is enticing and for adults only. Vescell is a major corporation that performs "Vtrans," the transferring of people's minds and spirits to other bodies. Crazy right? The story takes place in the fictional, grimy Icarus City and follows Vescell Agent Mauricio "Moo" Barrino.  I read one issue and couldn't put it down. I can see this becoming an HBO drama or movie.  You heard it here first folks! Enrique Carrion (writer and creator),  Rafael Diaz and  Evelio Tamayo (artists)  all grew up in Spanish Harlem. Isn't that cool?!  Image publishes Vescell.  They told me they're the only all-black creative staff of a major comic publisher. I wanted to get a picture with them because I know they're going to blow up.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thank God It's Natural Giveaway


Okay Cocoa Fly folks, two words to describe the Thank God It's Natural line: Good Stuff.  I was sent the Shea Butter Sample you see in the photo, which includes:  peppermint lip balm, shea butter, and lemongrass olive-oil soap. My lips are in love with their balm. It is the best lip balm I've ever had. It lasts a long time. I don't need to continually apply it, like I have with others. And my lips are satin smooth. Their lip balm is my favorite product I tried. 

The shea butter is awesome. I used it as my hand lotion. Ladies and gents, my hands were so soft and moisturized. The shea butter kept my skin right during the cold and rainy days. And thank God for TGIN during allergy spells. Repetitive nose blowing, left my little nostrils raw and scaly.  I was on my way into a meeting when I did one last check in my car mirror to make sure I was looking good. Ladies, we do that right? I saw my dry nose, dug through my purse, put the shea butter on and my nose looked much better. That little tub worked a miracle. It's good stuff. 

As for the soap, I didn't use it. The lemongrass has a strong scent and I don't do well with strong scents on my body. Sometimes I smell it when I need a pick me up. I read on the TLC website that lemongrass can reduce headaches, drowsiness or irritability.  But their soap comes in other fragrances like ginger peach, cherry blossom and more. Or you can opt for unscented.  I may try their unscented in the future.

My only complaint is that the TGIN website is hard to find. The creator of TGIN Chris-Tia Donaldson is a Harvard Law School alum and author of the book "Thank God I'm Natural." I was confused as to whether the products are called Thank God I'm Natural or Thank God It's Natural. When you do a search for the products, Thank God I'm Natural blog pops up first.  But that's an easy fix and I still think her products are great. 

One reason why TGIN is good stuff is because they seem to have good stuff in their products.  I understood all of the ingredients when I read them. I didn't see any hydropoliphosphorouscrapthatwillgiveyoucancer on their packaging. 

I'm not only thankful for the products, but that YOU have a chance to experience them. Shoot me an email to cocoaflyblog@gmail.com with "TGIN" in the subject line and tell me something natural about yourself that you love. Deadline is Thursday, March 15th. The two best answers get their own sample pack!

Here's a video of Chris-Tia Donaldson talking about how a bad wig, and near loss of a job led her to embrace her God-given kinks and curls. 

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