*Prepared for BGLH by Meosha Tall of 1MeNaturally
J: I’m Jennae Petersen and I’m a self-employed graphic designer and blogger. I live in Atlanta, but I’m originally from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and I’ll never forget my culture.
How long have you been natural?
J: I did my big chop in October 2009, but my last relaxer was in December 2008. I wish I could say I was brave enough to chop it all off and start from scratch, but I grew out my relaxer until I just couldn’t take the two textures anymore. I have to say, though cutting the relaxed ends off was scary at first, it was also one of the most liberating experiences of my life.
How and why did you transition into natural hair?
J: As a blogger who focuses primarily on green living, I had been making a lot of changes to make my lifestyle more sustainable. CFL and LED light bulbs, only natural personal care products — the whole nine. Except for my hair. I kept rationalizing that I “couldn’t” go natural because I wouldn’t know how to take care of my hair. I was lying to myself, plain and simple. One day, I just woke up and decided enough was enough. I couldn’t keep preaching to people about being greener when I was knowingly slathering toxic chemicals all over my head every few months for the sake of vanity and convenience. I made my decision that day and never looked back.
What are your must-have products for shampooing, conditioning and styling your hair?
J: I admit I am lazy when it comes to my hair. I was a product junkie when I first BC’d, but I don’t currently have the time or patience to try tons of different products.
My go-to products:
• Oyin Handmade Honey Hemp Conditioner: My hair loves this stuff! It is a great moisturizing conditioner with enough slip to make detangling easy. I co-wash every 1–2 weeks and deep condition with it once a month.
• Bee Mine Bee Hold Curly Butter: This is my favorite product for twist-outs and for general hold without crunch. I use it to help pull my hair back into puffs to keep my edges in check.
• Kinky Curly Curling Custard: When I want really defined curls without doing a twist-out, I use this to define my curls with my fingers.
• Curls Coconut Conditioner: This is my go-to conditioner when I run out of Oyin between orders, mostly because I love the slip, the way it smells, and it’s easily accessible at Target.
• Bee Mine Botanical Moisturizing Shampoo and Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Shine Shampoo: I usually co-wash, but when I have product buildup and need a good scrub, these are the only two shampoos I’ll use.
• Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner: When I’ve gotten lazy and I need a really good deep conditioner, this is what I use.
What is your signature hairstyle?
J: I love a good puff, with or without big, curly bangs. It’s easy, I can do it on soaking wet hair and I just love the look of having my hair pulled up. But I’m also a big fan of simple twist-outs and huge, blown out fros.
Did going natural affect your style choices at all?
J: I don’t think going natural changed my personal style. That evolution happened much later. But I will say that I now feel like my natural curls are an essential part of my personal style. I look at photos I’ve taken in the past few years and I can’t even imagine myself with straight hair anymore. I feel like the best version of myself with my natural hair.
How would you describe your personal style?
J: Open-minded. I wear whatever makes me feel good at the time. If that’s a super girly dress and a big fro, so be it. If that’s casual camo with a beanie hat, or a sparkly sweater and a side puff, so be it. I’ve learned not to limit myself. I just style myself the way I’m feeling that day, regardless of what anyone else might have to say about it. That confidence wasn’t always present, but I’m glad I’ve finally found it.
A person really has to find what works for them. I used to tell myself about all the things I couldn’t, or shouldn’t, wear because of my shape and size. I used to think that natural hair was complicated and difficult to manage. All of these thoughts ruined my self-esteem. Seriously, the only limits on your personal style are the ones you place on it. You have to do what makes you feel good, even if your boyfriend, or mama, or best friend doesn’t agree. For me, this means loving my natural hair and dressing for the day I want to have, not for the day that’s trying to have me. This new found attitude is why with my husband I created a line of t-shirts, Differently Clothing, that feature messages of empowerment, many of which are about natural hair. Our most popular tee says “Don’t Tell Me to Relax.” :)
What are the three favorite things in your closet?
J: My gold metallic skinny belt, good for defining my waist with almost any outfit, my leopard print loafers, which can make a boring outfit feel special, and dark skinny jeans, which are incredibly flattering when they fit properly.
Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
J: My style blog is Green & Gorgeous: http://greenandgorgeous.net; my t-shirt line, Differently Clothing, is at http://differentlyclothing.com; and finally, my graphic design portfolio for my company Hibiscus Creative can be found at http://hibiscuscreative.com.