- Created on 25 August 2012
For many Black women, maintaining moisture in the hair is an ongoing challenge, but there may finally be an affordable solution.
Renowned stylist Oscar James is the spokesperson for a new product line formulated specifically for African-American women. CLEAR Scalp & Hair Beauty Therapy Ultra Shea consists of four products that all work together to treat the scalp.
It is a common misconception that healthy hair starts at the ends, leading most black women to focus only on them. James has been in the hair industry for over fifteen years and his philosophy is that treatment begins with the scalp.
"It's the utmost important because like ninety-nine percent of the hair's natural strength comes from the scalp so it's really about nourishing the scalp if you want healthy beautiful hair," James told the Defender.
He said the ends still should not be ignored, advising women to use products to protect their hair from the heat. He recommends nourishing balms and conditioners. The product line is composed of scalp and hair oil, scalp nourishment balm, shampoo and conditioner.
The unique fact about the line is unlike certain products that can only be used on either natural or relaxed hair, this line is designed to work with both types.
He used to suffer from a dry scalp, but CLEAR prevented the dryness.
"This product was the first product that I used that actually eliminates it and keeps the dry scalp at bay," he said.
Some of the key ingredients are nutrium 10, shea butter, and natural oils. James said that the oils are light and do not cause the hair to feel heavy. Even though the products compare to luxury products, James said they are still affordable.
"One thing I love about the CLEAR products is that you're getting a luxury brand and luxury feel at mass cost. When you feel the shampoo, feel the oil and the balm, it's unparallel for a mass product," said James.
The Emmy Award-winning stylist attended beauty school and high school simultaneously and after moving to New York in 1987, he made a name for himself. His client list consists of models and celebrities like Iman, Tyra Banks, Halle Berry, Beyonce and so on.
Never big on trends, James has always focused on creating lasting healthy hair. He said that many women tend to style their hair in the latest trend, but warns that what is popular, may not always be what is best.
"In the end, healthy hair really is what's beautiful. Healthy strong hair is timeless, " he added.
- Created on 22 August 2012
Growing up on 35th and King Drive, Andrea Kelly was destined to be a performer.
As a child, in full dance gear, complete with leg warmers, Kelly would get in the middle of the living room floor and class was in session. Her teacher was Debbie Allen and "Fame" was on the television.
"My mother would move the table out the way and I was ready. Baby, when I tell you I was ready for class, I was. Sometimes my mother couldn't afford to send me to dance class so when "Fame" came on, it was class time. I worked it each time to the instruction of Debbie Allen and the show," Kelly told the Defender.
The dancer-choreographer and now reality television star said she was born to dance.
A graduate of Beasley Academic Center and Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Kelly was involved in anything dance-related and cheerleading.
Afterwards she made a career out of her passion. She was a dancer-choreographer and stylist for entertainers on tour, including ex-husband R. Kelly, and later opened her own dance studio.
Now, the mother of three is in the national spotlight as a breakout star in the reality television show "Hollywood Exes" on VH1.
Kelly, who splits her time among Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles, said she's passed over other reality show offers, namely "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," because it wasn't the right fit for her. But, when she was approached about "Hollywood Exes" and did her homework about the show's premise, "it felt right."
"I get to tell my story from my point of view. You're getting to know me for me," she said.
Viewers get to see firsthand Kelly's love for dance, her passion as a mother and her drive to expand her business.
Kelly closed her local dance studio and is looking to open one in California. Her and fellow castmate Mayte, also a dancer and close friend of Kelly's, are exploring opening a dance studio together.
When she's not dancing, Kelly is involved with her organization "Change for Change."
"I understand that every child can't afford to take dance lessons. I get it. I've been there. We allow a child to bring the change in their pocket as payment. I'm very passionate about what I do and giving back," she said.
While dancing comes natural for Kelly, she's jumping into another section of the arena: a clothing line for dancers.
"I didn't want to be another celebrity with a clothing line. I wanted to stay in my lane and do what I know. My line, Anansa, is about being a dancer and performer. During auditions I would see grown women come in with bubble gum pink leotards or something else like leopard print. When you come to audition, I feel you should come looking the part and ready to perform. My line will provide them with the dancewear to achieve that," she said.
She came up with the name while doing Dance Africa. She expects the line to debut next year.
When she's not dancing or in the reality spotlight, Kelly spends time with her three children, ages 14, 12 and 10.
"Each has their special talents," she said, adding they dance, sing, play piano, keyboards, guitar and drums.
Follow Andrea Kelly on Twitter: @DreaKelly
- Created on 01 August 2012
Loving the kinks, curls or volume-less hair means embracing your birth-given locks and exhorting confidence wherever you go.
That was the message at the recent "Naturally Walking Hair and Fashion Show" at the Ed Bailey and Leola Spann Community Garden on the West Side. Proceeds went towards planting and harvesting vegetables for the Austin community.
Stacia Crawford, co-founder of the Sankofa Cultural Arts Center, told the Defender, "It was really just about having that confidence, having the self esteem and just being comfortable in whatever you have. If you have kinky hair, if you have curly hair, if you have straight hair, it doesn't matter, just appreciate it and love it because it's your's."
Fusing the African inspired fashions with the natural hair styles created both a positive and sizzling atmosphere for audience members. The onlookers cheered, whistled and snapped photos of each of the models as they walked down the runway.
Creator and event coordinator, Julissa Marie, owner of J'Marie Photography, worked closely with the Sankofa Cultural Arts Center to put together the event. The event's promotion through social media proved it more than a success.
Enitra Reynolds actually learned about the hair and fashion show through a Facebook friend and truly enjoyed herself.
"I haven't had a relaxer in about four years," said Reynolds.
"I see a lot of styles that I love and I've been asking the females questions on how they do their hair and where do they go to get their hair done; if they do it themselves, what kind of products [do they use] because I've gone through so many," she said.
The models ranged in age from children to adults and showcased numerous hairstyles each model did herself. There were afros, flat twists, curls, braids and more. Each model transformed her hair from simple to stylish by adding vibrant accessories such as bows and flowers. Others coordinated their shoes with their handbags or earrings to make to the casual day look or evening look pop.
Reaching the community in a positive way is what Malcolm and Stacia Crawford pride themselves in doing. Educational outreach is crucial and Stacia saw a need for workshops for women on managing natural hair.
"We normally do natural hair meetups at the Sankofa Cultural Center," Crawford said. "More black women are embracing their natural hair and we found that a lot of them get to a certain point and then they don't know what to do with it."
Since the show wasn't just about the hair, some of the models wore African inspired attire by Akese Stylelines.
"We decided to incorporate the fashions into it as well because we also wanted to show that just because you're wearing African inspired attire, doesn't mean that you can't be fashionable and stylish," said Crawford.
Akese Stylelines was created by fashion designer Jennifer Akese Burney.
"We Black women, we adore our hair, we adore our clothes, our fabrics so I tried to incorporate that into the clothing," said Burney.
Originally from Ghana, Burney moved to the United States a little over a year ago to broaden her business options. This show was her first big event and allowed her to showcase her work.
"These prints have been there for ages," Burney said, referring to the custom African prints, "but I tried to put some modern styles on the fashion so that it pops.
Having the hair and fashion show in the garden was important because proceeds went towards the $5,000 goal.
The chairman of the board for Sankofa is Malcolm Crawford who grew up in the neighborhood and it was his idea to dedicate the garden to activists who helped the community.
Mrs. Crawford said, "It is going to be a vegetable garden and that's because Austin is a food desert. One of the things people say is that black kids don't eat vegetables, but that's not true."
They plan to teach the children how to take care of the garden and offer them cooking classes at the center. "We will have cooking classes where chefs will partner with us to teach these kids how to make healthy nutritious meals from the foods that they planted," she said.
- Created on 08 August 2012
Turning down that chic sculpture or conversation piece painting because they don't match the living room is a taboo.
Gallerist and textile designer Maya-Camille Broussard doesn't believe the color scheme of a room should ever dictate a homeowner's decision to purchase a piece. "Instead of the artwork being an accessory to the room, I convince them to let the art be the star," she said.
Beginning Thursday Broussard will host a weekly web series called the MCB Project to provide homeowners with design tips, in-depth interviews with artists and the transformation process when redesigning a room. She works with artists and homeowners, helping them benefit the other.
"I want people to be excited about supporting the artists. It's something that I'm passionate about and it's something I like to impart to other people," Broussard told the Defender.
The idea to host the web series originated when, as a gallerist, she would hear potential buyers turn down a piece because it didn't match the paint or couch in their home. That was her "reality check."
"If I could convince a homeowner that you can fall in love with the piece of art first, then we can make your room work around the artwork, that's definitely an investment to not only invest in the piece, but to invest in the artist," she said.
The process itself usually starts from one of two ways. Sometimes Broussard finds a piece from an artist and tries to find a homeowner who would appreciate it. Other times, the homeowner knows what type of art he or she prefers, but doesn't know how to find something to fit into the home.
"It's almost like me playing matchmaker between the artist and the homeowner," she said.
"You definitely don't have to buy new couches and a new coffee table," said Broussard. "The actual transformation process does not have to be an expensive one and I'm also a big fan of refurbishing pieces."
It isn't always necessary to drastically change a room and that it's fine to make small transformations. One of her jobs is showing homeowners that there's always a way to make an art piece fit.
"What I find is that a lot of homeowners really do love a piece but they're intimidated in terms of whether or not that piece will actually flow in their room," she said.
As co-owner of Three Peas Art Lounge, Broussard was exposed to many up-and-coming artists from Chicago. This networking opportunity put her in constant contact with artists who she can refer her clients.
The MCB Project webisodes will appear on www.TheMCBProject.com.