Friday, September 17, 2010

Divine Influence: My Interview w/Celebrity Stylist & Natural Hair Guru Felicia Leatherwood

 Felicia doing a demonstration at her New York Workshop

I am pleased to introduce you to Felicia Leatherwood. Founder of Loving Your Natural Hair With Care Workshop, Celebrity Stylist & Natural Hair Specialist with a knack for bringing out the best in your tresses. Felicia isn't just about giving you a funky style and sending you on your way, her styles are infused with love and topped with indispensable knowledge that leaves you feeling good not just about your coils, but about yourself as a whole. 

Felicia travels holding workshops that inspire women to love their natural hair while also tapping into their innermost beauty. Loving Your Natural Hair With Care will be at the Carols Daughter store this Sunday, September 19th at the Westfield Plaza, and I can't wait to hear her speak! If anyone is interested, details can be found here!

MTM: Tell me a little bit about your background as a stylist.

FL: My mom didn't know how to do hair at all, which is what prompted me to start doing hair. I started braiding hair when I was about 9 years old. 

In later years, Felicia states: 

I ended up at Millennium hair salon and a lot of celebrities would stop by there. I did Sanaa Lathan, Cedric The Entertainer, Anthony Anderson, Will Smith, Brenda Russell, Lala Hathaway and of course Jill Scott who I currently work with.

MTM: Has hair always been a passion of yours? And if so did you experience any roadblocks along the while trying to pave your own path? 

FL: Hair has always been a passion for me, I didn't really experience any roadblocks, everything has pretty much been divine order. No one really helped me get in, I just picked up a comb and brush and just started doing it. I would always do my own hairstyles, and people would just always ask me about my hair. It just started from there.

MTM: Are you exclusive to natural hair, or do you work with other styling options [such as thermal styling, relaxers etc]?

FL: I don't do relaxers, I do blowouts and I do flat iron. However, I'm mostly a natural hair stylist. For me it's easier to deal with natural hair because if something starts to happen with the hair, I can pretty much tell if it's the diet or the product. When you start dealing with relaxers, it's really hard to tell if the person's hair starts to break-off or shed because of the chemical, stress, or PH [PH Balance] is off. It's such a hard call. 

MTM: What's the number one misconception when it comes to African American women and their hair?  

FL: I think the number one misconception is that our hair is so-called 'hard to deal with'. However it isn't hard to deal with, it just takes patience, and I think that's why it's on our head. God gave us this hair so that we could learn patience, and just really to learn how to take the time to love ourselves. That's what I believe anyway.  

 Felicia at her Los Angeles Workshop

MTM: What are some of your favorite products [or product line] to use on women [and men] that want to wear their hair in it's natural state?

FL: I have been loving Jane Carter Solutions! I love her shampoo, her conditioner, her leave-in, and her Curl Defining Cream which is really nice. The Curl Defining Cream is similar to Miss Jessie's except it's not heavy and there's no parabens in it. So I've really been digging Jane Carter lately. My other favorite is Karen's Body Beautiful. Karen makes a really good hair milk called Sweet Ambrosia, I also love her Jojoba Oil with the Vanilla Lavender scent. So those have been in my tops. 

I actually recently started using Carol's Daughter Hair Butter, I like that too. It's nice and light and doesn't clog up the pores, so I'm digging that as well. 

MTM: What is your definition of natural beauty? 

FL: My definition of natural beauty is when someone feels organically beautiful. When you meet someone and you are talking to them, and you can see that they are in their organic state of being. Their happy with themselves, they love the way they look, without make-up, without being dressed up and their really just in love with themselves; I call that natural beauty. I like when someone is naturally beautiful, just rockin' their own naturalness.

 One of my favorite Felicia Leatherwood creations; modeled by the beautiful Tomiko Frasier-Hines

MTM: Do you feel that "going natural" prompts you to take better care of yourself as a whole? 

FL: One might think, but not necessarily. It is a doorway into taking better care of yourself and eating right and working out, but not necessarily. Sometimes people just like the look of natural  hair, but they still eat junk food and drink Kool Aid, so I don't know about that. I talk to a lot of women about their diet and working out in relation to their hair, and some of them still haven't put all three together. 

MTM: What is the single most important piece of advice you can give a transitioner? 

FL: Patience, you have to have patience. Don't compare yourselves to others, you are uniquely you. You just have to be patient and enjoy the ride. 

MTM: I know a lot of women that use extensions and braids to help them during their transition, do you have any advice for them? 

FL: I love when women use extensions and braids to transition. My advice is to be very mindful of the hairline. Black women are the only women that have issues with their hairline being pulled out from hairstyles. I always suggest if you are wearing extensions or braids to get a hold of Temple Balm by Organic Root, it's great stuff. In 6-8 weeks, your temples will grow back, and it works wonders; I like that. They have a few other products like it on the market, but that's the one I know works, I have been using it for years on some of my clients.

MTM: What's your opinion on natural hair and the use of heat from flat irons, pressing combs, blow-dryers etc?

FL:  I think it's fine, sometimes you just want to do it for a different look. I wouldn't use a blow dryer that's over 1875 watts because sometimes when you straighten the hair it won't revert back to it's kinky state, it will be straight on the ends. The solution to that would be to double-strand twist your hair, and use the perm rods to curl the ends, until it's ready to revert back. Some hair will revert back, and some never revert back and they have to do the BC [Big Chop]. I'm not really a fan of the big chop, I think you can do a lot of other styles to train the hair to go back into it's natural kinky state, but you know; to each their own.  

 Felicia does an array of styles! - For more photos, check out her FB page here

MTM: What prompted you to start the Loving Your Hair With Natural Care Workshop?

FL:  I saw the need for women to love themselves beyond their hair. I feel like were really just punishing our hair, and it's really not all about the hair. There are things going on inside of us that we're just not dealing with, and we're using the hair as an excuse not to deal with these things. So we keep trying to change our hair, change our clothes, put on makeup; but really it goes beyond the hair. We have to love ourselves. 
The workshop is about empowering ourselves through our hair. It's about using the proper products and doing what it takes to keep the hair in it's natural organic state so that it's just less stress to the hair. I really, really love doing the workshops. It really just empowers and inspires women to love themselves and their hair in it's kinky, curly state. 

MTM: What type of information can we expect to gain from attending? 

FL: The information is amazing. You learn anything from how often you should trim your hair to how often you should wash your hair, what happens when you're wearing a weave that mildews from perspiration, what happens when your locs mildew, dealing with thinning from pregnancy and menopause, or alopecia, dealing with dry scalp, how long you should wear braids and weaves. We also talk about your diet and certain foods that really aid in hair growth. I also talk about the mind, body and spirit being one. 

I talk about exercising, not only being mindful about what goes on your hair, but what goes in your body. We also talk about how we love ourselves. You really get a lot of great information from the workshops. I've been getting amazing feedback, great reviews on the workshops. You get more than you bargained for and you can ask questions. We have so many questions about our hair and we don't know where to go. A lot of us don't feel like searching YouTube or searching the internet just to get these questions answered.  

 More of Felicia's work - I'm really wanting a funky up-do after seeing these pics.

MTM: Where can we find out more about you and your workshop?

FL: You can find out more about the workshop at or, you can go to my Facebook Fan Page [Loving Your Hair With Natural Care Workshop] which is very interactive, I am on there all the time.You can come there and ask me anything, I post updates, where I'm going to be, and what I'm doing. I'm also on Twitter @LovingYourHair

MTM: Are you available for appointments? 

FL: My salon is privately based on the bottom floor of my home, so I am available by appointment only. I don't have a lot of people waiting around to get their hair done, that makes me nervous [laughs], so it is by appointment only. I travel a lot, so when I am in town I try to take care of all my clients. You can send me an email if you're interested in a consultation at 

MTM: Finish this sentence, in ten years Felicia will be....

FL: In ten years, wow. I hope to be in Spain doing workshops on the internet. I hope [not hope, but I will] I'll have a list of products out under Loving Your Care or Felicia Leatherwood. So I'll have products, I'll be living in a really nice peaceful country, I'll still be empowering men and women of color, and children as well to love themselves and go beyond their hair. To appreciate who they are, not to make comparisons. This is my life's work, this is what I'm doing

Photo Source: Felcia Leatherwoods - Loving Your Hair Facebook Page

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  1. Really great interview! I'll be checking out her site to see when she'll be speaking in NYC.

  2. I love the popmadour styles! Hope she comes back to NYC soon

  3. wow - this was beyond informative! Thank you for conducting and posting this interview

  4. Wow, this natural movement is strong! I like!

  5. great interview!

    loved this question
    MTM: Do you feel that "going natural" prompts you to take better care of yourself as a whole?

    For me it was definitely a YES but as she said it varies from woman to woman.

  6. I'm a facebook fan of hers and I was scheduled to see her when she was here in Bklyn and I missed her due to being sick, but I hope she comes back to NYC soon!

  7. Very cool interview. I'm so glad you post this, I live in LA so I'm definitely going to try and make this workshop!

  8. First time commentor, long time stalker! :) I love your blog and thanks for posting this interview. I'm planning on rocking kinky twists for the winter and I'm really interested in preserving my hairline!!! :). Along with not having the twists on too tight, I wonder how well this Temple Balm works... Anyone used it?

  9. she is an amazing stylist! So many naturals need help with styling and products and she seems knowledgeable and skilled. amazing photos!

  10. Love post and awesome interview. Live, Love, Peace. ~Sweetsop

  11. The style she did on Tomiko is so beautiful! I wanna get that done on my hair!!!

  12. I loved this interview! She seems like a soul who has really got it together. Loved her responses, very genuine. You can tell she really loves what she does. Count me in for one of her workshops, please.

  13. great blog! i know that hair is the hot thing right now, but im personally looking forward to seeing more style and DIY/crafting posts!

  14. Love it I'm going to do some research on her. thanks for sharing

  15. Wow! Beautiful woman, many blessings to you. :)

  16. That was certainly enlightening! I want to try those updos! They're amazing.

  17. Great interview! Now I've gotta see if I can snag an app't here in NYC before she packs up and ships off to Spain!


  18. Well-done!

    One thing impressed me as somewhat contradictory: Felicia Leatherwood isn't a fan of the BC - Big Chop - but advocates the wearing of extensions. Seems to me that the BC is preferable. At least it's one's own hair. Also, Ms. Leatherwood leaves her comment dangling; would like for her to comment more fully re: why she is not a fan of the BC.

  19. Hello Teacher, I just got through reading your comment on Mop Top Maven regarding what I think of the Big Chop. I'm really glad that you are sharp and quick on the draw with asking this question. You misunderstand me and there's only so much that can go into a written interview, so I have to keep things short when I answer question doing interviews. It's not that I don't like short hair, I love short hair, but as a hairstylist, women don't generally want to cut off all their hair and start over to go natural, so I find ways in which to revert the hair back by training it with natural styles and also protect the hair. That way they don't have to do BC's if they don't want too. Choosing to wear your hair short vs. having to start over and doing a BC are two different things. So know that although I love short and natural hair, I also find ways in which women don't have to Big Chop! Thanks for your curiosity!

  20. Love the interview! Felicia is truly a beautiful spirit with a blessed gift. Trust me-my heart and my hair can testify!


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