Tell us your name and where you are from?
My Name is Alyse Archer-Coité
I was born in Berkeley, CA, but spent a long time in Dallas, TX. Moved a few places between the two, and am now living in NYC.
How long have you been natural?
5 years or so
What do you do? Is there a resistance or compatibility with your hair in your field of work?
Well, I work by day in the Contemporary Art Department of an auction house, and by night I work as Editor-in-Chief of boutique Arts & Culture magazine called MAKER. We launch this spring.
I’ve worked in a few offices where my natural hair wasn’t a “crowd favorite”, and have been discouraged from wearing it. So I tried wearing it straight more often, but being a lazy hair person by nature, it just looked even more wild in straight styles… since I would comb it like once a week (eep!).
Now I just kind of do what I want. Sometimes straight, sometimes curly, always natural.
Describe your hair.
It’s very fine and has really endured a lot of punishment. I’ve colored it, straightened it, crimped it, braided it, and weaved it…I mean the list goes on and on. Luckily, my hair reacts well to heat, and straightens fairly easily, same with afro styles.
What is your regimen?
Well if I’m wearing it in an afro I wash my hair and only put the shampoo on the scalp, I read somewhere it wasn’t necessary to saturate the ends with shampoo, since it all runs down anyway, and too much can dry it out. Then I put conditioner on it (like a half bottle!) and brush it out with a paddle brush.
Rinse that out, put some coconut oil and a leave-in conditioner and Miss Jessie’s Curly Meringue (all found at Whole Foods) and then let it air dry. It takes a few hours, and really doesn’t reach its full afro potential until about 3 days later. As I mentioned, I have very fine hair, and my hair goes completely limp when wet… so it takes a while before it gets where it’s going.
If I’m wearing it straight, I skip the Curly Meringue, and put it in braids overnight. Wake up at the crack of dawn, and start to blow it dry and flat iron. Two hours later I have head of straight hair and I am VERY late for work.
What is your best hair advice?
Don’t over wash or over manicure it. Too much combing, brushing, cleaning, prodding etc can cause a lot of hair loss, especially if you have really fine hair like me.
What is the strangest comment, request or hair story?
I was once cast in a commercial by a French director who told me “he always wanted to be black, just so he could wear an afro”, I laughed to myself about it, and it actually got me the casting. In the storyline, I was in a dressing mirror, putting on a crew neck sweater, and the sequence started with my hair exploding out of the opening of the sweater.
How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Hmm, pretty monochromatic. I’ve been told it’s “Nordic”. Which makes sense because I’ve always been attracted to that region artistically, historically, ex-boyfriends from Denmark, spent a summer there etc. I like their minimalist styling and pairings. It’s more about shapes and textures than anything else. I’m a big fan of the “uniform” and love black, gray, and blue (denim). So I almost always wear some combination of those three. It’s a bit lazy, but it works for me.
I wear a lot of men’s pieces, overcoats, brogues, boots, collard shirts, oversized/loose/long things are my staples.
What advice would you give to people who might be afraid to show their true fashion sense for fear of being judged by others?
We’ve all been there, but what helped me get over that anxiety was recognizing that the more I projected being comfortable in my skin, the more others were comfortable with what I was rocking.
I just look in the mirror, and consult myself. If I like it… it’s happening. They can run with it, or run from it (I think Lil Wayne said that???)
What would you say to others who judge individuals negatively for their personal fashion style?
It comes with age, but I would hope at a certain point we can all live and let live. I mean, what you eat, doesn’t make me sh*t (pretty sure Jay Z said that in a song once??)
If someone else’s style is bothering you, you probably have a pretty boring life. Try to find something to occupy your mind/time.
When it comes to your style who, what or where does your inspiration come from?
My mom has great style, totally different from mine; she likes a lot of color and patterns. But I think I get my inspiration from my mom. It’s always a challenge to get her to cosign on an outfit that is not “flattering” or a “man-repellent” by mom-standards. She loves my style, and inspires me to go further. However, she still thinks I should add some color, so the men in NYC don’t think I’m in mourning.
“It’s not about the way you look, it’s about the way you are. It’s not about how I look, it’s about the way I am.”- Phylicia Rashad
Do you have a blog/website?
My magazine is all print, with a web element that is still being developed. We have a beautiful page up as a placeholder for now: www.maker-magazine.com
I’m really proud to see women of color wearing their natural hair as often as I do.
It’s disappointing how much I used to hate my hair growing up, I had so much of it and it was wild! But to grow up and really be true to natural self has been an amazing experience.
What makes you an Urban Bush Babe?
Outside of my hair, I think the drive to keep going, keep moving, keep improving, and keep learning. Anything that gets in the way of those things, I try not to allow in.