Natural Icon Beauty Feature- RASHIKA

I first met Rashika Powell in person a couple of years ago on a  Yaad Trendz photoshoot.  Her hair was processed at the time but now she sports her natural tresses with such fierceness and confidence. A Natural Icon Beauty in the true sense blessed with style and flair as unique as her personality.

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Born in St. Ann, but now living in Kingston, Rashika is a product junkie and budding entrepreneur, and as she puts it, she has a tonne of Organic hair products at home just sitting there.  Maybe that’s why the 24 years old Natural Icon Beauty has already started her own business called Rashibelle Naturals which offers All Natural skin and hair care products. She started this while pursuing a BSc Degree in Sociology at the University of the West Indies. When asked her vision in life, she replied “Like everyone else, I want to be successful. I want to own a business specialized in all natural skin and hair care solutions then expand to one that deals with our overall health and how to care for ourselves using just the things the earth provides. Ultimately, I want to do a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts and Cultural Enterprise Management. After my masters, I want to promote various cultural events that will highlight and educate persons about the Caribbean aesthetics.”

Her dreams are big and though getting there will require hardwork, Rashika knows how to have fun. In fact, I know Rashika loves to dance and she’s happiest while dancing but I wanted to know more about her personality and her ‘Natural trod’ so I asked her a few other questions:

NIB: Tell me about your personality. 

Rashika: Oh Dear, it is so hard to describe my personality. I am somewhere between crazy and laid back; if that makes any sense. For the most part, I am Jovial, easy going, I love to talk and laugh and ensure that the people around me are well entertained. I do have my crazy, spontaneous moments at times also.

NIB: What’s your personal style?  

Rashika: I love unconventional hairstyles and clothing. I like to be bold and unique with the things I wear and the way I style my hair. I also love all things Afrocentric and Vintage! I am obsessed with Tribal and African print clothing and items.

NIB: Why natural hair?

Rashika: I had a relaxer, I wore weaves and I can honestly say that those styles didn’t suit me the way my natural hair does, so six years ago I decided to wear my crown the way it grows.  Also, I have become more Afrocentric over the years, thus wanting to be associated with any and everything that captures the true essence of my African roots.

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Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow the blog IG: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

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Want to contact Rashika and find out more about her and/or her business?

Follow on Twitter : @rashi_belle

Like Rashibelle Naturals on Facebook: Click Here

 

Credits:

Photography: Nickii Photography

Lighting Director: @d.v.lux

Make Up: Jami Lake & Rashika Powell

Styling: Diedre McKenzie

Black & white clutch provided by: Yaad Trendz

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11 Lessons from a Street-Smart Entrepreneur

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As a budding entrepreneur, I’ve made many mistakes; Some of which could have possibly been avoided had I read more books and gathered more information beforehand. Thankfully, it’s almost never too late to learn, grow and achieve your entrepreneurial goals. Having started reading and loving the learning experience, I want to share 11 lessons from one of the books I read earlier this year- “The Street-Smart Entrepreneur” by Jay Goltz. 

1. Take inventory of your assets and leverage them. If you’ve got it, use it, even if it’s just a great smile.

2. A healthy business starts with a healthy body. Your health is your best long term investment. Taking care of your health is one job you can’t delegate.

3. Get rid of employees who continually challenge your company’s standards.

4. Long term relationships are easy to get into and hard to get out of. Choose your partners carefully and always have an escape clause.

5. Motivation without education leads to frustration.

6. Screw ups happen when you delegate authority but deal with them. Don’t stop delegating.

7. A Litmus test – Ask yourself how you would feel if a given employee told you today that he/she was leaving. If you wouldn’t feel sorry to lose that employee, he/she probably should be off the payroll.

8. Continually ask yourself, “What’s the most important thing for my company right now, and how can I best leverage my abilities in the service of my company?”

9. Stop being so gullible. People lie. Fullstop.

10. Take time to read – Business magazines, books, articles, audiotapes.

11. Companies that have great customer service have great customer service training. SAVE is an easy way to remember how to deal with customer complaints.

S- ympathize- let them know you care and understand

A- ct- do something to resolve the problem

V-indicate – let customers know it’s not normal to make that kind of mistake

E-at -bare some of the expense or loss to redeem situation so as to make the customer happy and save company from losing a customer.

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Thanks for reading. I hope at least one of these lessons resonated with you. Please follow and SUBSCRIBE to my blog and get updated when there’s a new post by clicking the ‘subscribe’ button on the page.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow the blog IG: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

Like me on Facebook: Click Here.

Natural Icon Beauty Feature- LEANNE

Meet 24 years old Leanne Humphrey, a very befitting beauty for our Natural Icon Beauty of the Month Feature. I wanted to know more about this Natural Icon’s style & personality so I got her to spill the beans just a little…

NIB: Tell me about your personality.

LH: I am a very bohemian, free spirited person. I am very extroverted and determined. I try to base all of my actions with love.

NIB: What’s your personal style? 

LH: I dress extremely funky. I wear a lot of colours and I wear comfortable materials. I like anything that looks unique. I have an obsession with jewellery. I like extravagant jewellery pieces. My style is very Afro Centric with a quirky European twist to it.

NIB: Why natural hair? 

LH: I went through so many phases of hairstyles in my life… From natural twists to straightened hair to weaves to bob cuts to mo-hawks… Just ended up at dreadlocks… It is not so much why natural hair but why dreadlocks? There is a certain wisdom I feel attached to my hair. It is my crown and it is interesting the story that my dreads tell. Every tight matted tress tells a story of what I was going through when that length of my hair was growing. It is just one of those things where my heart just knew that dreadlocks was for me… With other hairstyles, I could’ve seen myself trying a different one. With my dreads, I can’t see any other style in my future but longer dreads.

Leanne is from the beautiful Island of Barbados. Leanne switched from studying Theatre Arts to the Music Programme at Edna Manley College as she revealed to me, “that is my true passion. I am an upcoming recording artiste! My stage name is Vanessa Lee.”

She radiates an infectious energy! She is the rebel of love, light and conquest. With a striking soul, Vanessa Lee rules her voice with the power of musical reason.

I must say, the first time I saw Leanne, I was wowed. She has such a fierce beauty and unique style that I knew I had to capture it on camera for my blog. I was not disappointed. She was just as fierce behind the cameras as she was in person, and of course, it transcended well on photo. A picture is worth a thousand words and I’ve posted more than one so I’ll just let them help to tell Leanne’s story in addition to what she already told us.

Thanks for visiting. Remember to follow/subscribe to the blog and leave a comment.

Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow me on Instagram: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

Like me on Facebook: Click Here.

 

Connect with Leanne aka Vanessa Lee Bongo:

Follow on Twitter: @vanessaleebongo

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Instagram

Watch her videos: Vanessa Lee

For Bookings email: vanessaleebongo@gmail.com

 

Credits:

Photography: @nickiikane

Lighting Director: @d.v.lux

Make Up: @vanessaleebongo & Jami Lake

Styling: @mz_xeri

 

 

Black Hair Matters (Part 2)

“Kingston College High School students in Jamaica are sent home, on an exam day, for wearing fades and mohawks. Black girls in the Bahamas are sent home for Twist Outs. Black girls in Barbados are sent home for Afros; And Bantu Knots (Chiney Bumps) are deemed inappropriate for school.  Some may say that the students are at fault. They know the school rule and should have, therefore, adhered to it. After all, as one teacher puts it, “school rule is school rule. Abide or get out!” But I’ll address that later. For now, I have a deeper concern.

Responding to accusation that the school is lenient with students of Indian and Chinese orientation, the Kingston College Principal said,” students expect them to bald their head like mine but it can’t be that the same rule applies for obvious reason. We have to use our discretion.” It is more worrying than hypocritical that the same authority that sees it fit to suspend black boys for wearing Fades, have seen it fit to use their discretion biases when it comes to students of Indian, Asian and Caucasian descent wearing the exact hairstyles deemed inappropriate when worn by their black schoolmates. What are these ‘obvious reasons’ to which he alludes? Apparently fades are only appropriate when worn by Indians, Caucasians, Asians, Soldiers, Presidents and Prime Ministers… but NOT black students.”– Excerpt from Black Hair Matters Part 1

“Having had the wrong kind of education, the Negro has become his own greatest enemy.”– Marcus Garvey

“We speak often of modernized curricula at the secondary level, and the need to pay attention not just to academic/technical areas of study, but to the sense of identity that young people develop as students. Part of this identity is of course the history of their country and region, and their place in this history. Not just in the Caribbean but wherever young, Black women live, we are told that our hair is somehow inadequate: it is ‘hard’ or ‘knotty’. It is not straight ‘enough’, although enough for whom or what one cannot be sure. And where we are kindly allowed to wear our hair naturally as it grows from our heads, there are caveats: as long as it is pulled back or braided tight or otherwise tamed.”[1]

Though no one can force someone to start seeing and appreciating black beauty, it would be beneficial for us to start questioning our beliefs about race, beauty and natural hair. If we recognized that those who created the dominant cultural ideas we’ve internalized did so for their benefit, and not ours, we would be better able to understand that the psychological conflict this internalization causes is self-destructive. Self-hatred continues the cycle of self-degradation, and it’s impossible to teach our children about their self worth, and get them to take their history seriously, if our own sense of self is distorted through a white lens. What are the lessons being taught to us as a society that teachers would think sending a child home for wearing their natural hair out is acceptable and excusable?

“Among my primary concerns is the message being sent to young women of African heritage in this country that their natural selves are of necessity untidy, unsuitable or otherwise inadequate. The argument that “students can do whatever they like once they enter the real world, but this is school” also misunderstands the role of formal education and the process of young people’s development. School is the real world. Young people are understanding themselves and their environment, and while becoming who they will be, they also are.”[2]

Lessons of self- confidence, self- worth and self- identity have to be incorporated into the collective consciousness. Therefore, children have to be socialized to believe their self worth. I’ve heard parents tell their children, “Nuh deh wid nobody blacker than u madda or fada!

Choose a man wid pretty hair suh yuh pickney can have pretty hair

Nuh bring home nuh black picky picky head man/gyal fi meet mi

I’ve heard teachers tell children,

“Yuh see how yuh black” as if being black was some sort of leprosy and something to be avoided or ashamed of.

Children spend most of their time at home and school. The only way to undo all what we have learned as it relates to self hate is to constantly drive home the message of self love. The brain is a creature of repetition; whoever gets at it the most will rule it. The brain cannot resist the temptation to believe something that is regularly presented before it or that it’s regularly fed. So that’s what makes teachers’ jobs so hard yet critical. Children only spend approximately 8 hours at school. What do they spend the other 16 hours doing, hearing, and watching? The formative years of conditioning are from birth to 12. It is counterproductive that we (parents, teachers, society) instill values consistent with self hate in those critical years and then try to change them after they have already been habituated and developed personalities and hard habits. As the Jamaican proverb appropriately states, “ben’ the tree when it young, when it old, it will bruck” What people have ever been freed by giving the best years of their children to their ‘oppressor’? The ‘oppressor’, in this instance, is the value system of white bias.[3]

We have to replace the old zero-tolerance approach with an approach built on the conviction that suspension and expulsion don’t solve problems at the root of student misbehavior. Continuing to promote zero tolerance, masking it as just a commitment to discipline and blind social conformity, we are failing future generations of black kinky hair students. When you fail to engage your school boards in the conversation around changing these outdated rules, that’s your contribution to the old guard. Yes, systems matter, and yes, there are villains and bad apples out there. But we’ve got to be way more honest and own our contribution to all of this. Our contribution can be what we do but also what we fail to do. Let’s make it personal, and admit our own fault and contributions to this value system that promotes ‘white bias’. I know that’s hard to hear. But yes, you and I, intelligent, well-intentioned warriors of discipline — we contribute to the system when we say nothing and do nothing. If we remain silent in matters of injustice, we have chosen the side of the oppressor.

I can see somebody reading and saying, “Look at her telling us not to uphold school rules and preaching about natural hair like she is more enlightened and confident than all of us. But she can say wah she waan say, she don’t have to deal with these unruly kids on a daily basis? and who are you to say we have issues of self hate just because we’re not natural?” I promise you, my intention is not to seem like I am the Malcolm X of natural hair advocacy or that I am righteous and have all the answers. It’s purely out of love for my people when I suggest that rejecting straightened hair is symbolic of a deeper act of rejecting the belief that straightening hair and other forms of grooming which are deemed ‘socially acceptable’ are the only means of looking ‘presentable’, ‘formal’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘groomed’, ‘appropriate’, ‘respectable’, ‘neat’, ‘professional’ and attaining success in society. I, like the other person, am still on that journey of undoing and unlearning all the blatant and subliminal negative messages that were fed to me in my formative years.

The first step to ‘rehabilitation’ is admission and realizing a need for change. Let’s consciously correct our subconscious thoughts, our conversations, and our actions. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it. In fact, I have to stop myself from saying and doing things daily that contradict this empowerment of which I speak of. If your ‘discipline’ undermines the values of self love, self worth and self acceptance, it’s time for it to be disrupted.

Others should not be able to dictate to us what is beautiful and we just sit powerlessly regurgitating those beauty standards. Racism ‘works’ by encouraging the devaluation of self-identity by the victims themselves, and that re-centering of a sense of pride is a prerequisite for resistance and reconstruction. Let us take charge of the messages we consume daily and the messages we allow our children to consume. Our hair doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’! Society’s view of beauty is what is broken. I’ve been told more often than not that I’m prejudiced towards women with natural hair. I am not. Some of my most beloved friends have processed hair. However, I choose to highlight beauties with natural hair through this medium because, as a black woman, I understand that I needed to see positive images of black natural hair beauties and, by highlighting them, I am contributing, if only minutely, to my people seeing themselves as BEAUTIFUL. I am challenging the idea that there is one standard of beauty. Good hair is not only straight hair or hair with curl patterns closer to Caucasian, Indian or Asian textures. ‘Good hair’ is HEALTHY hair whether it be kinky, curly, coily, nappy, or straight.

“Until the lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”

We are Kings and Queens whose history have been distorted because we allowed someone else to tell it. We were never slaves. We were enslaved. Two different things. I see a need to incorporate and structure our history in the school curriculum in a way that empowers us as a people and that builds self esteem. But who would teach it if there are teachers who themselves need these lessons? Black Hair Matters. Until these hair rules are applied unbiasedly to all kinds of hair then you are asking us to accept that we are ‘valorized according to the tilt of our whiteness’ and that ‘rules are rules’ and must be followed regardless. Back in the day you may have blindly followed and upheld those hair rules but now that you know better or at least should know better (even if only after reading this). Don’t you think it would be irresponsible and cowardice to go back to enforcing those kinds of ‘rules’? The mind stretched by an idea can never be returned to its original dimensions. No man can grow and remain the same. Are you going to stunt positive growth and awareness because of fear and because ‘it has always been done that way’?

Let us be brave if only for the future generation.

Let us not apologise for the texture of our hair and for being disruptive about policies and changes that affect our race.

Let us not judge our beauty based on European standards or we will forever believe we are ‘ugly’ and ‘inadequate’. We are not Europeans. We are AFRICANS… and our hair (and lives) matter.
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Love & Blessings,

Queen Stacia.

Follow on Instagram: @naturaliconbeauty

Personal IG: @staciadavidson

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[1] Letter from group of Harrison College Alumni in Barbados

[2] Letter from group of Harrison College Alumni in Barbados

[3] Dr. Umar Johnson

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