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Nicole’s ’fro real about hair care

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Big and proud: Nicole Famous shows off her natural hair (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

When Nicole Famous’s customers see her outside the Post Office, they do a double take.

Her big hair and bold African prints are a world away from the government uniform she wears behind the counter.

Everything is natural, from the twists in her hair to her bright, pink lipstick.

“When I’m out of uniform people don’t recognise me at all,” she said.

“Do you have all that hair under that helmet? They’re amazed. And they want to talk to me about it.”

This Saturday she will hold her fifth annual Natural Hair and Beauty Expo. A lifelong civil servant, she has for the past four years been at the forefront of celebrating the beauty, styles and healthy care options for natural hair through her company, Natural Blessings Always.

She said: “Natural is not just a hairstyle; it’s a lifestyle. I believe that what you put in your body comes out in your beauty.”

She said the natural hair movement has seen “a tidal shift” in the purchasing, aesthetics and hair-care regimes for the black hair care industry.

“We want to apply it to the youth so that when they grow up they embrace what God gave them. I want to teach that,” she said.

She’s been at the Post Office for 28 years, but a passion for hair care was instilled in her by her mother, Isabelle Lee.

“From the age of 11, I was her shampoo girl. I did the colours, the perms and jerry curls,” she said.

When she passed away in 2002, the loss was devastating and Ms Famous took some time to herself.

“When she took sick, I decided that the chemicals that she was using might have been the cause. She died of cancer, so I decided I didn’t want anything to do with chemicals,” she vowed.

“[In 2010] I went away, I went to Atlanta and walked into a Natural Hair Expo. I was the 100th person to walk in and they had me on camera and they picked me to be a hair model in the Fro Fashion Show.”

She said that experience served as further inspiration to develop the annual showcase.

“From that day on I made so many connections worldwide,” she said.

Those connections have allowed her to bring in guests Deshonica Kerrie, a Master Cosmetologist and Natural Hair expert as well as author and hair-care expert, George Irving, known as the Hair Doctor. The two will lead educational seminars and live demos on stage.

In February, Ms Famous enrolled in an Atlanta-based cosmetology programme specialising in natural hair. There, she acquired technical styling techniques and an understanding of how to promote and protect healthy, natural hair.

She encourages the use of natural products readily available in kitchen cupboard.

“People are buying so many products and they don’t need them,” she said. “All they need is natural oils and rosewater. Olive oil, coconut oil — just natural oils that moisturise the hair.”

The expo brings vendors of Afrocentric products and fashions, healthy juices, teas and snacks, as well as locally made hair and beauty products. Proceeds will go towards the Belco bills of seniors elected by Age Concern.

“My passion is for seniors,” she said. “We have given back over the four years: 18 seniors have received money for their Belco bills.”

The 49-year-old describes herself as a “spiritual woman” with a strong belief in giving, sharing, teaching, but maintains that “there is no success without sacrifice”.

She said: “When I discovered the beauty and power of natural hair, I knew I had to share it.

“I go 50 next year and I feel good about it. I invested much of my personal time, money and sacrificed a year’s worth of vacation to acquire the art and skills of natural hair care at cosmetology school.

“I created the NBA Hair and Beauty Expo as a platform that celebrated Afro natural hair but that would also create entrepreneurial opportunities, increase knowledge and acceptance for what naturally grows out of our crowns”.

Next year, she will complete another six months of schooling in Amsterdam to get her European certification.

“My wish is to open my own shop in the future,” she said.

Natural Blessings Always Natural Hair and Beauty Expo will take place on Saturday, July 16 at the St Paul’s AME Church from 10am to 1pm. Advance tickets are $25, $30 at the door. Patron Tickets are $60 and are available at Secret’s Boutique on Reid Street, Hamilton. The event it sponsored by AS Cooper (Bare Minerals), NorthShore Medical Aesthetics Centre, Sign Effects and Palm Tree Pruners.

Natural beauty: Nicole Famous is hosting her fifth annual Natural Hair and Beauty Expo (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Quick change: Nicole Famous rocks a very different style out of work (Photograph by Akil Simmons)