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Tell us your name and where you are from?
My name is GG Renee, but you can call me GG. I live in Silver Spring, MD.
How long have you been natural?
It’s been four years. I got my last relaxer back in 2006, and I long term transitioned until 2009.
What do you do? Is there a resistance or compatibility with your hair in your field of work?
I worked in financial services for 12 years and always felt the need to find a balance between my ‘big, bigger, biggest’ hair mentality and the conservative nature of my job. I saved my extra big hair days for the weekend. But I never really faced resistance in the workplace, other than my own. My hair made me feel conspicuous and different, and at first I was uncertain about how I wanted to look and be perceived. I told myself that people were staring at me and thinking this and that when really it was me who was uncomfortable.
Favorite moment of your career thus far.
It was the day I quit my job and my career in finance. I knew that 2013 would be the year for me to make some major changes, but I was thinking that I’d probably finish out the year at the company. It didn’t happen that way.
I go into work one day fully prepared for an all-day client meeting. Nothing out of the ordinary is on my mind. In the middle of the meeting, I get up, leave the room and go to the bathroom to cry my eyes out. I feel so out of place and useless and uninspired and miserable and horrible and awful. I’d been feeling that way for a while but in that moment it hit me like a ton of bricks. After the meeting, I go straight to my boss’ office and give notice. It was a defining moment. That was four weeks ago.
Describe your hair.
Free spirited. Open-minded. Sensitive. Rebellious. Contradictory. Goofy. Just like me. But that’s probably not what you meant.
In more practical terms, most would categorize me as a 3C/4A. I’m not certain about hair typing, but my best guess is that it’s 3C on the sides and in the back. 4A on the top/crown.
I have fine strands but I have a lot of them, so it appears thicker than it really is.
What is your hair regimen?
My regimen changes with the seasons. When it’s warm, I cowash as needed (usually once a week) and shampoo as needed (usually once a month). I oil rinse every time I wash my hair and I usually pre-poo as well. My hair is thirsty like that. I rock mostly twist outs and buns in the summer.
In the winter, I’m primarily a blowout girl. The regimen is not vastly different, however I cowash less often and I wear it straight. I’ve come to the conclusion, through trial and error, that my hair stays more moisturized and healthy in the winter months when worn straight. I rarely flat iron it though. I wear it big straight, if that makes sense.
What are the three biggest factors you attribute to your length?
1 – Frequent dusting. I check my ends every time I twist my hair and I clip almost every time. It’s a tiny amount but it makes a difference. I only get my hair professionally trimmed every 6 months or so.
2 – Sealing my ends. My hair is happiest when I spray, smooth and clump every night. (I call it clumping. Some call it finger coiling. It’s basically a way to section your hair, moisturize and seal your ends to keep them clumped together, stronger and less prone to knots and damage.)
I spray just my ends with a mixture of rose water, grapeseed oil and aloe vera juice. I smooth in the butter or moisturizer of the moment. Then I wrap it and smooth it tightly around my finger into a curly cue and carefully slide my finger out, keeping the ‘clump’ intact.
3 – Stretching. The constant manipulation that my hair requires when it’s not stretched or in a protective style causes too much breakage, knots and aggravation for me. I’ve learned this the hard way. Now I almost always stretch by blow drying or by banding.
What is your usual go to style?
Either a twist out or a twist out bun. Often I just wash my hair and twist it up with no plan as to how I’ll style it the next day. The exact same process can give very different results. I love that and I hate that at the same time.
What is your nighttime routine?
Either twist my hair and seal my ends or throw it up in a high bun and tie on a scarf. When I’m really exhausted, I put it in a high ponytail and sleep on a satin pillowcase.
Your top three favorite products and why?
1. Aloe vera. This changed the game for me. When I use it, my hair stays moisturized much longer than when I don’t.
2. Coconut oil. I use it for everything. Pre-pooing, oil rinsing, moisturizing, mixing. It’s not too heavy and not too light.
3. Barry Fletcher’s Grease. My hair loves this stuff. It’s like the old school hair grease that most of us were raised on but without the mineral oil and petroleum.
Your best hair advice?
If all else fails, avoid frequent manipulation and keep your ends healthy. Many of us complain of insatiably dry hair, but I find that the healthier my ends are, the easier it is to keep it moisturized and manageable.
Ultimate hair crush
Corinne Bailey Rae and Chime Edwards of the YouTube channel Haircrush.
What is the strangest comment, request or hair story?
I really haven’t had any that stand out. What stick with me the most is the many women who would comment that they like my hair and then they’d say something like, “I could never go natural because my hair isn’t nice like that.” It breaks my heart to hear women say that!
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
I’m definitely a fashion minimalist who loves clothes but gets easily overwhelmed with too many options. I could wear a white tee every day styled differently and be perfectly content. I love jewelry and my biggest fashion statement is usually my hair.
What advice would you give to people who might be afraid to show their true fashion sense or natural hair for fear of being judged by others?
Self-denial is more detrimental than anything anyone else could ever say about you. You may not ever become immune to what people think, but you can learn to ignore it. When you do, the world opens up for you.
What would you say to others who judge individuals negatively for their personal fashion style?
I’d say, “Look inside.” If you’re judging others, you are surely judging yourself. Don’t project your own fear and limitations onto people who aren’t afraid to express themselves.
When it comes to your style who, what or where does your inspiration come from?
I feel like I lost touch with myself, with my style somewhat, when I really got into the thick of being a mom. It happened after the second baby, I think. The clothes in my closet didn’t complete the vision I had of myself in my head. So, I purged it. Nowadays, my inspiration comes from thinking about how I feel on the inside and only wearing clothes that make me feel like that on the outside. I gravitate towards no fuss, bohemian, easy breezy casual. And I’m literally re-learning how to shop to ensure that I don’t fill my closet back up with pieces that channel me the way I want them to.
If you could name one person from the past whose closet you would love to raid, who would it be?
Definitely my mother’s closet. I wish I’d appreciated it when I had access to it. She and I used to bargain shop often – Gabriel Brothers was our favorite place to shop.
Favorite stores and places to shop for vintage or thrift
My favorite stores are ASOS, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls.
When I thrift, I most often hit Goodwill, Salvation Army or Village Thrift. Now that I have my own kids, I take my daughters with me and it’s like, our thing.
Most embarrassing moment
I bled on the chair. Yes, on the chair. At work. In a man’s office at work. Just me and him, the blood on the chair and me afraid to get up.
What is your favorite life lesson?
“As long as you feel inspired, your life is being well spent.”
I used to think that everyone knew something that I didn’t. I had no self-confidence and I was always sabotaging myself, thinking that I was damaged. My favorite life lesson is to be yourself, believe in yourself religiously (no matter what you’ve been through) and follow your bliss. Whatever you love, do more of that. If you do these things, life will be good from the inside out, no matter your circumstances.
Current music playlist and favorite book
Current playlist: Snoop Lion, Reincarnation. Alice Smith, She. David Guetta and Calvin Harris. 80’s and 90’s R&B. I’m obsessed with the song Cups by Anna Kendrick from the Pitch Perfect Soundtrack. Wale, The Gifted. Florence + The Machine, Ceremonials.
Recent reads: The Alchemist by Paul Coehlo was a life changing. Her Last Death by Susanna Sonnenberg was cathartic for me. She’s a crazy amazing writer and it’s a memoir about her tumultuous relationship with her mother. I relate.
Four Favorite films:
It’s so hard to choose!
- The Wiz
- The Color Purple
Are you vegetarian, vegan or other and if so how long and why?
No, I’m not vegetarian or vegan. I feel most healthy and energetic (and not bloated) when I stick to chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables. That seems to be the diet that my body wants. But I love milk and bread and cheese and burgers, so I eat those things in moderation as well.
Favorite restaurant and dish you would not want to live without
I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and every time I go I have to visit Pamela’s Diner for their famous crepes. To die for! Breakfast is my favorite.
Do you have a blog/website?
My blog is called All the Many Layers. I write about self-love, life, beauty, creativity, emotional well-being – all the layers of being a woman. Here it is in nutshell:
All the Many Layers is my offering to women who yearn to create more meaningful experiences in their everyday lives. That means more love, more beauty, more truth and more soulfulness.
The tagline – A Daily Indulgence for Soulful Women — speaks to the longing we feel to explore our extremes and allow them to freely coexist.
Soulful women are complicated, multifaceted and always seeking intimacy. We embrace the pain and the pleasure, the enlightenment and the foolishness that we must experience in order to discover our deepest truths.
We yearn for both spiritual and material fulfillment and we create our authentic lives in the dynamic pursuit of both
I can also be found sprinkling love dust on twitter and instagram – @ggreneewrites.
What makes you an Urban Bush Babe?
I’m an Urban Bush Babe because I wear my heart on my sleeve and encourage, no I implore other women to do the same. Exploring myself through my writing, my hair, my style and my work saved me from low self-esteem and an uninspired way of life. I encourage all women to use their voices, their joy, their pain, whatever they have and put it into something creative and meaningful.