The light­ness of my skin doesn’t make me any less black than I feel, and the way I wear my hair doesn’t make me any more. It sim­ply makes me, me!

Where do you live?
I’m a Chicago girl, born and raised, cur­rent­ly call­ing the Logan Square neigh­bor­hood home base. I work as a con­sul­tant in the vin­tage cloth­ing indus­try, work­ing free­lance for three vin­tage busi­ness­es in the city, and addi­tion­al­ly I’m a free­lance artist and cura­tor of pop-up art exhi­bi­tions. I went to the School of the Art Insti­tute for about a year, with empha­sis in paint­ing and fiber & mate­ri­al stud­ies, but it wasn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly the right match for me, so we said our peace in 2005, and I went on to do all sorts of oth­er big­ger and bet­ter things.

Why did you make the deci­sion to go nat­u­ral?
E: I was just sooooo over my hair being this ongo­ing stress­ful and neg­a­tive focal point for me.
I always had real­ly rad and ridicu­lous hair styles when I worked with relax­ers and flat irons, and I would always receive com­pli­ments and kudos on them because I guess they were what you could per­ceive as uncon­ven­tion­al in terms of African-Amer­i­can women’s hair­styles, but it was so much work, and deep down, I was mis­er­able and nev­er felt like my nat­u­ral self.

As I start­ed to hang out with more nat­u­ral wom­en and explore life as an adult, I start­ed to see that I had been blessed and NOT plagued with the­se awe­some super wild and tight curls, and I could see how men­tal­ly I had con­di­tioned myself to think that because of the type of music I was into and the lifestyle that I chose to live that I would need to have straight hair, even if it wasn’t on my own aes­thet­ic terms, and that just wasn’t the case any­more.

When and how did you tran­si­tion into nat­u­ral hair?
I wan­na say it was Novem­ber of 2008 when I gave myself the big chop. I was super ner­vous, because even though my mind had been made up to do it since I had come back from a life-alter­ing vaca­tion in Oak­land (which played a huge part in my deci­sion), phys­i­cal­ly I was still attached to my straight locks (even though they had some seri­ous new growth action at that point). I knew if I wait­ed around or con­tem­plat­ed it any longer it wasn’t going to hap­pen, and I cer­tain­ly knew that I wasn’t going to have a styl­ist do it for me, because I knew no mat­ter how amaz­ing my friends in the hair indus­try are and how much I love them, this was going to be my own per­son­al expe­ri­ence, and nobody was going to do it for me. Which is not to say that I rec­om­mend this method for any wom­an, hack­ing away can lead to ridicu­lous lop-sid­ed hair­dos, of course.

So I grabbed some shears I had around the house and went to town. I also made it a point to throw out every pro­duct I had that I knew had start­ed to suck the life out of my scalp, ie. my hair spray. Once I chopped it all off, I still wasn’t quite ready for full fro sta­tus, I didn’t have a lot of length to work with at that point, but I did and still do have a full head of thick, thick curls, so while tran­si­tion­ing, I used a soft bristle brush to wrap and set it while wet into lit­tle baby waves.

I loved it, but I would still heat set it for a few min­utes from time to time, to keep my waves in check, which I grad­u­al­ly elim­i­nat­ed from the reg­i­men. I stuck with cer­tain prod­ucts I knew worked for my hair regard­less of tex­ture, and I stocked up on my fair share of prod­ucts that I knew would help it come alive again, as well. And once spring rolled around, bam! My lit­tle blond afro came to be. I guess the rest is his­to­ry.

I am extreme­ly hap­pier and about a mil­lion times more con­fi­dent liv­ing my life as a nat­u­ral wom­an! I under­stand my self worth in a way I could nev­er ful­ly com­pre­hend when I would douse my head with chem­i­cals. It sounds so cheesy, but the world just seems brighter, ya know?

What’s your basic reg­i­men?
Well, let’s see, my hair reg­i­men changes with length. The thing I keep con­sis­tent is WATER. Hydra­tion is key! I wet my hair and co-wash every day, and give it a nice healthy scrub a few times a week. Some­times I switch up prod­ucts, but I try to keep it pret­ty sim­ple, so I tend to stick with the fol­low­ing basics: Queen Helene’s hair cho­les­terol in the show­er, Motion’s or Luster’s Pink Hair Lotion right after I dry it off a bit, but def­i­nite­ly while still pret­ty wet, fol­lowed by a dai­ly dose of olive oil cream (which as far as I’m con­cerned, every­body should swear by!) mas­saged in while my hair’s still damp.

I use a met­al fan pick to pull out my hair and rock my afro dai­ly, and on the days when I decide to wear it either pinned up on the sides (2nd pho­to), or up in a huge scarf and bow piled on top of my head (1st pho­to), I go back (after pick­ing it thor­ough­ly) with my soft bristle brush and a small bit of Murray’s pom­made and I brush my curls upward, so as to train it in the direc­tion I want it to go in on that par­tic­u­lar day.

What mis­takes have you made with your hair that you’ve learnt from?
Flat iron­ing my relaxed hair AFTER putting oily pro­duct in it, and hav­ing just bleached the front half of it, I had nev­er heard some­thing siz­zle SO intense­ly. But at the time, I fig­ured it was the nor­mal and only way I was going to be able to have fire engine red, bone straight hair. Oops, I guess.

How does your hair express who you are?
My hair reflects every­thing about me. It’s my her­itage, my nar­ra­tive. It always has been, and I guess with every chang­ing style, a new part of me has come to life. I mean, real­is­ti­cal­ly, if some­one were to come up behind me and shave my head, I wouldn’t lose the essence of who I am, but I feel that my hair strong­ly rep­re­sents how I have grown as a wom­an and career-mind­ed adult. And I believe for that oth­er nat­u­ral wom­an, or wom­en inclin­ig to make the change, it express­es that I’ve gone through the same bat­tle, fig­u­ra­tive­ly speak­ing. And I’m as hap­py as can be.

I was real­ly moved by the last inter­view you did with Cherekana, where at the end she dis­cussed how she dis­likes how peo­ple view her wear­ing her hair the way she does as a polit­i­cal state­ment and that not being the case… I deal with that fre­quent­ly, gen­er­al­ly sport­ing what some would con­sid­er a clas­sic afro, from the days of the Pan­ther par­ty, and it becomes try­ing at times when peo­ple make assump­tions about you based on your hair, your looks, etc, with­out even know­ing you as a human being.

I think a major­i­ty of us may have been on that angry mil­i­tant tip at some point, how­ev­er long or short-lived it might have been, but for me, sport­ing my hair the way it’s MEANT to be is com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent.

The light­ness of my skin doesn’t make me any less black than I feel, and the way I wear my hair doesn’t make me any more. It sim­ply makes me, me!

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
Cer­tain­ly! I have a blog about my art, vin­tage good­ies, adven­tures and all that jazz. Check it out at
You can also find me on Face­book, or on etsy at

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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49 Comments on "Erin // Natural Hair Style Icon"

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OMGGGGGGGG she looks awe­some! i love her look!!!!!!!!


”The light­ness of my skin doesn’t make me any less black than I feel, and the way I wear my hair doesn’t make me any more.”

No but your nat­u­ral is a sign hat that you love your black­ness at least in regard to the hair. It does not make you more black (Your are black or you are not) but is shows that you like your black­ness.




sick sick SICK gor­geous fro­hawk! bad ass style, me likey :D

Tiffany H.

You, my dear Erin, are a vision and an inspi­ra­tion for not only your style, but your brav­ery to dic­tate your own truth. I com­mend you for the recog­ni­tion you’ve embraced and wish you all the best with all of your endeav­ors.


T Hobbs

P.S. I’ve been a fan of Kesh’s for years and was intro­duced to your awe­some­ness through her web­sites. Hope you guys can get back in the lab and knock some more stuff out! 

Best. Xoxo.


Wow, Erin, you real­ly went through such a trans­for­ma­tion with styles. I have to say, all of them fit you very well. But what it comes down to is what makes you feel your best, and you seem like a very beau­ti­ful per­son. I will check out your blog. Keep Styling. Eve

Ari Vee

OH! I saw you on Keshs blog a few times, Your hair is beau­ti­ful, and your a beau­ti­ful artist!! Love your style


I AM IN LOOOOOOVE WITH HER LOOK! Her hair, her pierc­ings, just…her! Shes just beau­ti­ful all around. Btw, could you ask her if her lobes are stretched and what size?