Fashion & Beauty

Natural Hair Queen – The Woman Behind Naptural85

When I started my natural journey, like most women, I scoured the internet for information, tips and encouragement. There was so much to learn and at first was a very overwhelming process. That’s when I came across Whitney White, better known as Naptural85. Whitney is one of the premier natural hair video bloggers on YouTube and in fact has more than 1.5 million followers spread across all social media channels, heeding to her every word. Her down-to-earth way of connecting with her followers is what makes her extremely popular on social media and has given her celebrity status in the world of naturalistas. But Naptural85 is more than just a social media queen, she’s also a wife and mother, here is the story of the woman behind Naptural85.

Nicole: Why did you decide to go natural?

I decided to go natural for a couple of reasons. For one, I was really over my relaxer! I hated the smell, and the mandatory salon experience of waiting in the chair, the burn, the process… I was done. I was also experimenting a lot with my personal style and trying to find myself at the time, and I was pretty much turning to curly hair as my go-to everyday look! So it just seemed pointless to relax my hair, when really all I wanted was to wear it big and curly.

Nicole: When did your natural hair journey begin?

It began in the spring of 2008! Right before I graduated college!

Nicole: Were your family/friends supportive of your transition to natural hair? 

{laughing} I’d love to say yes, but not really. My mom was a little confused and my sister was like “erm… no.” My husband was actually very supportive, and he was the one to push me to go natural in the first place! He had to convince me that it was pointless to keep relaxing my hair when I was just wearing it curly anyway… which is crazy, but I’m so thankful he helped to open my eyes! After my hair started growing out though, my sister and mother came around to seeing the beauty in natural hair, and my mom actually went natural for about two years herself!! I’m really proud of her for that!

Nicole: What was the strangest reaction?

I never really got strange reactions, but one response to my hair does still linger with me to this day. I wore my hair in an afro to work one day, (I used to be a graphic designer), and a co-worker of mine, an african-american male who I consider a hip-hop hipster, shook his head at me and said, “you’re late, the afro look isn’t cool anymore.” I, of course, said that I didn’t care, but it hurt my feelings that he would say that. For the rest of that day, I felt kind of stupid and embarrassed for wearing my hair like that, but it was one of the events that pushed me into realizing that I don’t want to care what people think, and I’m going to wear my hair however the heck I want to.

Nicole: How did you get into video blogging?

I started video blogging, or vlogging, in 2009. My first video, and the only video I thought I’d ever upload, was a thank you to the women on YouTube who inspired and helped me to commit to going natural! I literally was just hoping to show my progress and let them know that they were appreciated. Well, other women also found the video, and they sent me messages letting me know that it had inspired them to go natural, or that we had the same hair type! They said they liked my video, and I enjoyed making it, and so I decided to make more! They were mostly motivational, but then I found myself in my bathroom coming up with ideas to care for my hair that I hadn’t seen online. Seeing that many women said they had the same hair type as me, and I knew that at the time, there wasn’t anyone else online with my same hair type (this was in 2009, when there were only a handful of natural hair vloggers), I decided to record my process in hopes of helping other women with their hair care!

It became an addiction for me, my after-work hobby. There wasn’t anyone in my daily life with hair like me, so retreating to my computer at the end of my day to connect with this community of like-minded women, who looked like me, was a form of creative and spiritual therapy. I really felt like I had a place where I belonged, and where I could actually make an impact, and so I just continued posting! At that time, no one was getting paid to post. We did it simply to connect with, and help others. Our only reward was to know that the video was impacting a community of women who needed support. We all needed support because at the time, there wasn’t a ton of representation. So it was a love of labour then, and remains a love of labour now!

Nicole: You have over a million followers on your Facebook and YouTube channels, do you ever feel like a beauty and fashion celebrity?

{laughing} No, not at all. I definitely feel proud of all I’ve accomplished, and sometimes I do look at the numbers in amazement, but it’s not really something that I focus on. I am literally, like, the same old Whitney inside. In fact, my husband has to remind me sometimes about my accomplishments because I’m really hard on myself.

Nicole: What is the interaction with your followers like, do they ever reach out to you for advice?

All the time on social media! I used to be really on top of answering every single question, on all my sites, up until I gave birth to my daughter. It was really something that I prided myself in, but I couldn’t spend days answering questions anymore when I had a baby to take care of. So now I do the best I can and try to answer as many questions as possible, but not spending too much time doing so; being an attentive mother just has to take precedent. But yeah, I feel like I know my viewers really well through our online interactions!

Nicole: How has being a natural changed how you view yourself?

I’m a lot more confident now. I used to hold a lot of pride in my relaxed hair, but I let it define me. When I cut my relaxed hair off, I literally cut off a piece of my ego… it was gone. So I had nothing to rely on but my personality and my inner strengths. I basically destroyed who I thought I was, and had to piece it all back together like a puzzle. A puzzle with missing parts that I now had to create myself. And so I gained a ton of confidence by really searching for, and cultivating, my inner beauty, in a time when I didn’t feel my most beautiful on the outside.

 

 

Nicole: I see you have a beautiful daughter, what things do you hope to teach her as she begins her own hair journey?

Thank you! First, I want to teach her how to take care of her hair! At the current moment, it seems that all she wants to do is pull it out! She confuses her curls with knots, and her solution is to just yank them all out of her head… yeah, we need to fix that!

{Laughing} But I also want her to be comfortable and proud of her curls and kinks. And I’m totally okay with her wanting to wear her hair straight at times, but I hope she will also choose to wear it curly and free, and be proud of how it looks. I think she’s pretty much seeing the correlation between mommy’s hair and her own hair already. She likes to point out when her and I are wearing the same hairstyle, and so I really like that she can see herself in what I do to my hair. So as long as I continue to love my hair and lead by example, I don’t see her having any issues with loving her own natural curls and kinks! My husband and I also reinforce the beauty in her natural hair by complimenting her daily, and showing her images of girls or women with the same hair type.

Nicole: What is your #1 hair product that you can’t live without?

My DIY Shea Butter Mix! (And water, of course!) My hair loves it!

Nicole: What advice would you give a woman who wants to start transitioning?

What are you waiting for!?! Go for it, there’s really nothing to lose! If you don’t like how your natural hair looks at the end of all of it, you can always go back to the relaxer. But you don’t know unless you try! Also, be patient with your hair. There’s definitely no instant gratification in transitioning, it’s going to take time, patience, and consistency! Sort of like working out! {Laughing} , but easier… #maybe!?! And do as much research as possible. Try and take tips from everyone, no matter the hair type. They may not all work for you, but at least arm yourself with the information in case you need it!

Nicole: What is the craziest thing someone has asked you about your hair?

I’m sure I’ve heard it all by now, but I guess the craziest question I can think of right now would be, “It that all real!?” The only thing that makes this question crazy, is if it’s asked online. Because there’s access to all my videos and pictures, like, usually on the same page, {Laughing} So I guess that’s as crazy as I’ve heard.

Nicole: What’s next for Naptural85? What can we look forward to? 

Of course, more videos! And some fun projects coming up, but you’ll have to follow my YouTube channel or social media sites to see when all that comes out! #OhNoSheDidnt!! ^_^

Nicole: If you could go back in time, what would you do differently with Naptural85?

Nothing. I’ve made mistakes, but I also don’t live with regrets. Every mistake I’ve made taught me something, and so I’m happy with where I am and the lessons I’ve learned along the way! There’s no special recipe to being an online personality. You just have to get in there, and be true to you. And since I originally didn’t start out to make this my career, it was just a hobby, I can’t be upset with where it’s taken me thus far; I was just having fun the entire time! Everyone has their own path, and it’s just not up to you to decide where it takes you. So I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished, and how, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Nicole: What is one thing about you that your followers would be surprised to know?

I’m pretty much an open book, lol! I’ve shared a lot about me via my daily vlog channel, so they know about my introvert-ness, my workaholism, my germophobia, and my need to sporadically break out in song and dance. I guess they’d be surprised to know that I have a serious “business” side too, that I don’t really share online a lot. Some people say that I should, but meh!

Nicole: What would you say the secret to your success is?

I don’t think there is one secret to online success. But it helps to just be true to who you are. Honestly, you can try to copy someone else all day, every day, but it’ll never be authentic and people will have a hard time relating with you. You can only front for so long people, {Laughing} If you’re true to who you are, you’ll attract the people who are like you, and who enjoy your company. It’ll also just be better for you in the long-run, and you’ll experience more growth. And that’s one of the biggest benefits of all of this, the internal growth you experience from sharing and helping others.

Nicole: Like most working moms, I struggle to find a balance between work and family. How do you find that balance?

Oh it’s hard for sure. It’s something that I’m still trying to figure out, although I know it’ll never be perfect. But setting boundaries is huge! For both you and your family. I like to work it like an outside job. There are certain hours and certain days when I “go to work” and cannot be bothered unless in an emergency. So between those hours, I’m lucky that my husband can stay home with my daughter so that she has a caretaker who she can trust, and who I trust, and who loves her! On other days when he can’t stay home, she goes to grandma’s house until I can pick her up, and it works for us! It’s definitely hard when I’m at home and can hear them both having fun without me… that sucks, but I have to be diligent or else I would never get anything done!

Nicole: Everyone needs a break from work. What are some of your hobbies?

Working is my hobby! Remember when I said all of this started out as my hobby, a place for me to retreat… well, nothing has changed! To this day, it’s still my hobby and what I enjoy doing for fun! Hmm… maybe that’s why I’m a workaholic… it’s just always remained fun to me, albeit a lot of work… but fun! It’s just that now, it’s both my hobby and my career. So I spend a ton of my waking hours devoted to “work,” which is still a labour of love for me.

After working and caring for my family, I honestly don’t have a lot of time for much else! When I can squeeze in time for anything else, it’s usually exercising. I’ve been trying to read more books, but I can never finish them! I’m like, in-between five different books right now, it’s crazy! So that’s something I’ve been trying to make more time for this year, “me time.” It’s exhausting, and a little dangerous, not having time to devote to yourself.

Nicole: I, like a lot of naturals, are often looking for and changing products. How often do you change the products you use? 

I’m always poking my nose around different products. I’ll sometimes buy them and use them once, even if I like it, but just to have that experience of knowing what works and how… A lot of products work well, so it’s hard to commit to one, unless it’s amazing! Or if I’m trying a new hairstyle or technique, where I have to use a new product that I’ve never tried before, like a hair spray, or a setting foam… if I like the hairstyle, and want to do it again, naturally I’ll be using the product again, until of course, I find something that works better!

As far as how often my “favorite, go-to products” change, that’s not often at all. I like to stick with what my hair likes, what I know how to use well, and also what’s worked in the past! If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

Nicole: As women, we all have so much going on. On days, where you just don’t have the time, what is your go-to hair style? 

A top knot bun always does the trick! Or I’ll just clip half my hair up and out of the way, leaving the rest of my hair flying free! I’m really not picky with how my hair looks. I think a lot people probably think that because I’m a hair vlogger, I probably obsess with how my hair looks daily. But in reality, I do a very small amount of styling to my hair on a daily basis just because I’m always so busy.

Nicole: We always like learning something fun and random about our guest, so here we go. What’s your favorite movie?

Ahh! I don’t really have a favorite movie… hmm, maybe… Sex in The City?!? Lol, I like chick flicks! But for cartoons, it’ll always be Pocahontas!!! #Shooot

Nicole: Who is your favorite musical artist? 

Omg, this is hard!! Okay, if I could only listen to one artist for the rest of my life!!! Okay Beyonce. I mean, I’m not beehive status or anything, but she has a little bit of everything! The slow jams, the club hits, the throwbacks… she’d be the one I’d pick for lifetime listening. But ugh, that so does not reflect the eclectic-ness of my Pandora stations…

Nicole: What is your favorite show on TV?

I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones! And I don’t even have HBO! Don’t ask.

Nicole: Love or money?

Of course I choose love!!!  Although, money is still important in a lot of ways… besides just being able to “buy stuff.”

When I was younger, I used to think that love was all you needed. In reality, it’s just not that simple. Love is a bi-product of many feelings, including admiration and respect. Money is representative, and some would argue, imperative to survival, comfort, and growth. So while I think Love is most important, unfortunately, I think it can be seriously affected by money issues.

So the choice over love or money is personal, and although I choose love, I understand those who would choose money. It’s completely in correlation to past experiences regarding love and survival, and so of course, everyone’s experiences in this are different, everyone’s choice will be different.

Nicole: Thanks for your time

Thanks!! Nicole! <3

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