16-year-old Alexis McCowin, a junior at New Tech Academy at Wayne High School, has worn her hair naturally for less than year and has already seen the transformative change in her positive self-image. She sought out hair care direction from Juanita Henderson, the CEO of Chocolate Kinks & Kurls, a natural hair care brand that focus on empowering women on their journey to healthy, natural hair.
The two sat down with Fort Wayne Ink Spot to discuss how everything went down.
Fort Wayne Ink Spot (FWIS): How did you two first meet?
Juanita: I actually received an email from Alexis’ mom. Basically, she wrote that her daughter was having some difficulty embracing her natural hair. She would only go out in public if she had on a wig or extensions sewn in. I responded to her immediately and set an appointment that very day. Even though it was a Sunday (my day off), I felt it was important for me to show up for her. I could empathize with how she was feeling, I big chopped and started CKK when my daughter Nayla was having difficulty embracing her natural hair.
Alexis: My birthday was coming up--I was turning 16--and I wanted to make a big change and wear my hair natural. I was scared because my hair was so short. We met Juanita at a salon. I was surprised; I thought it was just going to just be emails back and forth. She offered to do my hair right then and there. When I saw my natural curl pattern, I was shocked at how it looked. I pledged that I would go natural. But after that day, I did have a [relapse] and wore my weave for my birthday. But then after that I decided to stop completely. So I washed my hair and used her products. That same Monday I went to school with my hair natural. I got a whole bunch of compliments. I didn’t feel it yet, but I kept going because I knew eventually I would feel it. Ever since then I’ve been wearing my hair natural.
Describe your hair journey from when you were younger to now?
Alexis: When I was younger I never were my hair out. I always wanted my mom to straighten it or I wanted braids. I think it was around my middle school when I started seeing pictures of girls with their curly, natural hair, and I wanted to be a part of that. It looked so positive. I stopped getting sew ins after realizing they were damaging my hair. Extensions were so addicting. I never realized I was addicted until my parents said that I don’t act the same when my hair is not done. If my hair wasn’t done, I didn’t go out in public, I didn’t want to see anyone. When I was in public, I would go to the bathroom to check every minute to make sure my hair was still flat. It was getting very unhealthy for me.
Juanita: I told her how proud of her I was for taking the leap to wear her natural hair to school. To remember that how she owned her "new look" would determine how people responded to it, she had to show up confident! I'm so proud of you for making it through that first day!
You kicked the Extension Addiction at a young age, be proud of that! Unfortunately, people don't realize addiction to hair extensions is a real issue in our culture.
Alexis: What did influence me were the comments I received. Some of the boys and the girls asked, “Why is your hair so short?” or “Does your hair grow?” And those types of things made me want to hide my hair away. Because I started to think, “Why isn’t my hair growing?”. But since using your products I have seen a difference. My hair looks fuller, I'm learning more about my curly hair.
Juanita: And that’s normal because I’m still learning too. (Laughs.)
FWIS: So, Alexis, at what point did you become comfortable with your hair?
Alexis: Even though I did I start towards the end of my sophomore year, I’m just now getting fully comfortable this year. Going back to school, I would want a sew-in. But, last year, I noticed every time I hid my hair, I missed my little fro. That’s when I realized that I’m actually starting to love my [natural] hair. I haven’t hid my hair so far this year.
To contact Juanita or peruse her hair care products, hit up ChocolateKinksAndKurls.com.