1. Tell us your name and where you are from?
My name is Aissatou Marie Balde. I am originally from Paris, France and I have been living in NYC for almost 5 years. I am ethnically mixed: Senegalese father and mixed mother (Cape Verde and Corsica, France).
2. What do you do? Is there a resistance or compatibility with your hair in your field of work?
I work as an account director in an advertising agency. I am also striving to build a career as a stylist. I am lucky enough to work in a creative environment that is open to originality and uniqueness and therefore accepts my hair style. That is actually the reason why I decided to work in advertising in the first place, when I was still a student figuring out what to do with my life. I had heard that in advertising you didn’t have to wear a suit and you could actually wear anything you wanted. It sounded like what I was looking for! I never saw myself wearing a black blazer/skirt and a white shirt with black boring escarpins 5 days a week! Impossible for me.
3. Describe your hair? What is your regimen?
My hair is extremely curly but rather smooth and shiny. It has a lot of volume to it, which I love. My regimen is quite simple, people wouldn’t believe me but it is. It is thanks to my “metissage” I think. I shampoo only once a week, however I rinse my hair with conditioner twice a week. I use a hair dryer to give my hair more volume. When my hair is too dry or too frizzy I apply a hair cream especially for curly hair. Like I said basic regimen.
4. How long have you been natural?
I have had my current hair style for about 6 years. Before I would never have dared to unleash my hair, under no circumstances. I straightened my hair with chemical products once when I was about 14 years old, and I never did it again. However I would make my hair as flat as possible and I would always tie it. I hadn’t realized how beautiful my hair was until I met someone very special thanks to whom I eventually let my hair loose and embrace their nature. Since then I make my curly hair as big as possible!
5. What is your best hair advice?
I have a few pieces of advice that help me make my hair look as good as possible:
- Don’t use a comb when you detangle your hair under the shower. Use your fingers. I haven’t used a comb for 3 years now!
- Don’t rinse entirely the conditioner out from your hair, leave some so that your hair can be more moisturized.
- Rinse your hair with cold water. Well… try. Not that easy during winter time I know.
- Use a shampoo without any sulfates or parabens.
6. What is the strangest comment, request or hair story?
My strangest story actually happened just recently, I was on a trip to Senegal and a guy asked me to cut a little bit of my hair as he believed it would bring him good fortune! Other than that I am regularly complemented on my hair by strangers, especially women who also ask me which products I use. I say thank you everytime as it makes me happy.
7. How would you describe your personal fashion style?
My fashion style is mainly casual and creative. I like comfortable clothes (light weight and smooth fabrics) taken from casual/sportswear that I associate with more elegant pieces. Meaning I could wear a pair of harem jeans with a silk blouse for example. I love creating contrasts. I love colors, I don’t have much black in my closet. I also developed a strong interest for vintage fashion. I don’t necessarily follow trends, I follow my own instinct and taste.
8. What advice would you give to people who might be afraid to show their true fashion for fear of being judged by others?
I am not in a position to give advice, however from my own experience I learned (and I am still learning) that being yourself is the best thing you can do. Not trying to be someone you aren’t, not trying to please others is what makes me interesting. Yves Saint Laurent said that the best encounter you can make in your life is with yourself. This is what I am trying to do, but it takes time, efforts and courage to be and become your own person.
9. When it comes to your style who, what or where does your inspiration come from?
I am inspired by vintage fashion from the 50′s and 80′s eras. I love the femininity, elegance and glamour that dominated in the 50′s. I love the aesthetics of the American movies from the 50′s. What I like about the 80′s is the popularization of casual wear, I am also obsessed by square shoulders silhouettes and epaulettes. The more I look at clothes, the more I am inspired. I spend a lot of time on online shops. Some of the contemporary designers that I appreciate a lot and that make me dream are Vanessa Bruno and Isabel Marant.
10. If you could name one person from the past whose closet you would love to raid, who would it be?
I would love to have gone into Marilyn Monroe’s closet. She is the essence of femininity. She portrays a weird balance between sex appeal and innocence. She is quite intriguing to me.
11. Do you have a blog/website?
I recently created a blog: aissatoumarieb.com. It reflects my inspiration, personal taste and style. My goal for 2012 is to develop it more and more…
12. What makes you an Urban Bush Babe?
I feel comfortable with who I am and I like looking different than others. I am striving to create and develop my own personal style. I cultivate the beauty of my natural hair, that I wish I will be able to keep big and curly for a very long time…