“With Love”

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Antoinette’s story behind her new album “With Love” is nothing short of amazing. It is a story of trust. It is an example of what magic can come from trusting that God, the universe, fate (or whatever you want to call it) is always ready for us, always presenting opportunities to us and all we need do is show up as best we can.  Nearly two years ago, Antoinette called me with an amazing story to share….

One Friday night, Antoinette was serving tables at the Jazz venue Dizzy’s  as she did every weekend. On this particular weekend the great jazz vocalist  Kim Nalley was performing. 

Somehow Antoinette and Kim had  graduated from the required role play of  “How are you? What can I get you to drink?” to more personal conversation and Antoinette revealed to Kim that she was an aspiring jazz vocalist. Nonchalantly, Kim told Antoinette that she would invite Antoinette on stage some time during Kim’s set to sing a song and advised Antoinette to be ready when she was called up.  Antoinette thought that was highly unlikely and assumed Kim was just being nice because what established jazz vocalist invites some “nobody” unto the stage to share her shine? 

Nonetheless, Antoinette prepared herself just in case Ms. Kim was serious. She practiced in the bathroom that Friday night but Kim didn’t call her up. She practiced Saturday morning before work. Saturday night passed. Kim hadn’t called her up. Sunday night came and lo and behold’ Kim called her up to stage and to Antoinette’s surprise she indeed did not want to share the stage with Antoinette, she wanted to give the whole stage to Antoinette for herself. Antoinette shed her waitress apron and stepped unto the stage and sang. Although scared, she gave it all she had. 

Here is video from that very night.

Unbeknownst to Antoinette,  there was a man in the audience that would fulfill one of her greatest desires. Everyone at Dizzy’s was familiar with him. He was quiet, sweet, tipped well and had a peculiar affinity for Fiji water (which Antoinette took incredibly seriously often running to nearby stores to get him The Fiji water if the restaurant was out of it). He became what we affectionally call in the restaurant biz as “a regular”. On this Friday night, after Antoinette performed, he whispered in her ear “I want to pay for you to make an album”. The rest is history.

No, he wasn’t a sugar daddy, no there were no strings attached. He was just an extremely wealthy man who simply wanted to use his wealth to help young, talented people follow their dreams (yeah, those types of wealthy people exist). He financed Antoinette’s entire album.

Produced by the incredibily talented bassist Christian McBride, Antoinette has created an album with selected jazz standards about love performed “her way”.

The Making of “With Love”

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I recently went to see Antoinette perform at her album release party and I was struck by my best friend. I saw her in a way I had never seen her before. Onstage, I saw her stretched and expanded in her greatest artistic form.

My God, the impressions we can make when we push past fear and step forth into the boundlessness of our life’s purpose. My God, the inspiration we spark when we do the hard work required of us as we push towards completing our goals. When we pursue our art, when we strive to fulfill our inner dictates, when we complete our goals, we allow ourselves the possibility of perfection through the eyes of others. I really saw my best friend during her performance and she was flawless. 

She stepped unto the stage, barefoot, with a tight royal blue dress clinging to her ample form, hands folded in a prayer and resting on her thighs, with lowered, bedroom eyes she tossed her waves over her shoulder and looked into the crowd with a shy, innocent smirk which stretched into a wide knowing smile, which opened into a laugh. The crowd was transfixed. Black girl magic. Her entire performance was a reflection of who she is at her core – sensual, controlled, generous and oh so very vulnerable.  I hope she knows how beautiful she was that night. I hope she knows she has a gift. I hope she knows how deeply she touches people. I hope she continues to share her richness with this starving world. Love you girl! 

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Antoinettehenry.com

Antoinette’s album “With Love” is also available for purchase on iTunes!

Kristin Braswell – A Woman With A Crush On The World

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Social media never ceases to amaze me. It really does create a network of people that you come to develop relationships with. There is always that one person who you have a random, soft connection with yet you are all the way here for. You scroll her instagram feed and see how her personal life is thriving with super cool friends and a loving family and at each career advancement you cheer her on in your head like, “You go girl! You’re killing it!”. You come to anticipate the many think pieces, music links and event invites she shares on social media because ya’ll are on the same wave length. Ya’ll appreciate the same things. Ya’ll hate the same people. Although you may have never talked to this person in your life and no matter how one sided the relationship stalking may be, she is like your best friend in your head but for real for real…

  This is my relationship with Kristin Braswell. In all honesty, we do have a stronger connection than one randomly established online. Kristin has assisted in bringing ATWC’s online presence to the forefront. She selected us to work on Carol’s Daughters online series “The Curl” which she produced herself as well as putting us on to many opportunities which followed. We have remained social media friends ever since and as stated before, I am totally here for her. She is truly a friend in my head and if we were ever to link up in person, I’m pretty sure we would vibe out as well.

 Kristin is a travel writer, producer and newly titled entrepreneur. She has created a new online publication called CrushGlobal which encapsulates her two greatest loves – writing and travel. I am excited to present you all with her interview. To me, she is an inspiration. She is black girl magic personified. She is the supernatural result when grit, endurance and raw talent meet in a weightless, limitless, cage-less  free spirit. 

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Tell us about yourself. Where were you raised? Where did you go to school? Where do you reside now?                                                                                                                                                              

I was born in Los Angeles, but I feel like I was raised in both Los Angeles and New York. I attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philly and have been a proud Brooklyn resident for years.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Tell us your earliest memories of realizing that you wanted to become a writer.                                                                                                                            

I’ve created stories in my mind for as long as I can remember, and the easiest way to translate those stories was on paper. Looking back now, I realize that creating those stories was a means of survival.  I did not always fit in as a child, so when I wrote, I found purpose and felt empowered. I was very much a loner and a bit obsessed with reading. So being drawn into this fictional world I was reading about inspired me to stretch the limits of reality in my own writing. It’s not always easy for me to communicate an idea verbally, but when I write, I feel closer to myself and to others.

Are you more drawn to fiction or non-fictional writing? Why?                                                            A little bit of both, honestly. I love writing and reading fiction because there are no limits to a storyline within the realm of imagination. I also love non-fiction. When I read the words of Malcolm X or James Baldwin, the message always punches me in the gut. Isn’t that the beauty of words, of film, music and dance, really? That  sometimes it only takes so little- a short scene or melody- for so much to be understood.

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To say that you are accomplished in your career is to say the least. You have been published in Essence, Huffington Post, Los Angeles times, Ebony, CNN Travel and ForbesLife to name a few. Can you describe your career journey? How have you been able to keep your work circulating amongst such reputable publications? Any advice to young writers?                    

Am I accomplished? (smiles) Thank you. There’s soooo much more I want to do, but, I am FINALLY getting a to a place where I can say “dang girl, you did that!” For anyone reading  this, I encourage you to do the same. Stop for a moment and just pop your collar. You’re bigger and badder than your mind and experiences would have you to believe. My career journey is definitely not typical, and sometimes I still feel like I don’t know what the hell I am doing and would rather just be eating pizza and listening to music on a beach.

I began in breaking news, working at various networks in hopes to become a broadcast journalist. I won’t sugarcoat this. I got laid off, a lot. It was never a reflection of my work, and really the byproduct of companies that undervalued their employees and were trying to keep up with an ever-changing industry. For years, I took it personally, but now I am in a place where I’m no longer affected by any shifts in employment. This isn’t because I think I’m invincible. Truthfully, I’ve been disappointed so many times that it just doesn’t impact me in the same way. The beautiful thing that has come out of that is a shift in my perspective on my own talents. My brother has always told me, “you’re not meant to work for other people, or to have an ordinary life with the picket fence. You are here to do something extraordinary.” And oddly enough, every time I find myself trying to fit in that neat little package of success, I get thrown right back out into the wild. So now I am focusing more on my own business, CrushGlobal Travel.  I am in talks with a publisher for my first novel, and I contribute to publications that I dreamed of writing for since I was a little girl. I get to travel the world and meet new people and just give thanks. To young writers I say this: don’t be afraid to pitch. Celebrate your vulnerability and own your story. Expect to hear no more than yes. Know that editors are always juggling a number of things and it’s sometimes more about timing than even talent. I would actually like to help a lot more young writers because I didn’t always have that same support. So, please feel free to email me at contact@crushglobaltravel.com if you need some advice.

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Top 5 favorite writers.                                                                                                                              

1.Warsan Shire (waaay before Lemonade dropped). 

2. James Baldwin

3. Zora Neale Hurston

4. Ta-Nehisi Coates

5. Bernice McFadden

Name all of the places that you have traveled to. Is there one place that you loved the most? Is there one place you are dying to see but have yet to go?                                                                

 I’ve been to London, Paris, the Maldives, Madrid, Seville, Tenerife, Barcelona, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Anguilla, Mexico, Hawaii, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Maarten, St. Barths, Berlin, Hamburg, Santiago and Patagonia in Chile, various cities in India, Bordeaux, Montreal, Barbados, Belize, Petit St. Vincent, Cayman Islands, Rome, Capri, Positano, Sorrento, Portugal, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I love a lot of these places for different reasons, but, if I had to choose, I would say Nicaragua surprised me the most with its natural beauty and good vibes, Bordeaux for its wine and food, and Trinidad for the supreme joy I feel during Carnival. I am a soca junkie and the happiest with some roti in my hand and a riddim playing. I’m dying to get to Cuba and have been for over a decade now. Honestly, I just feel so blessed. I love seeing the world.

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Top 5 beauty necessities while traveling.

1. A good gloss because my lips must stay poppin.                                                                                                  

2. An eye mask for sleep. Without it, I act a fool.                                                                                            

3. Lotion. You can’t be ashy abroad.                                                                                                                                 

4. An ayurvedic calming spray I got in India. It helps my nerves when I fly.                                                          

5. A good book + my journal to collect my thoughts and express gratitude for wherever I am in the world.

What is one thing you have learned about America having traveled outside of it? What is one thing you have discovered about being black outside of the context of being in America?

America is not the center of the world. I feel like we are very much taught that as children and it is in many ways to our own detriment. I travel to other countries and children from all backgrounds can speak different languages and know far more about American history than we ever learned about their countries or customs. It’s a curious thing to me, how disconnected we are from the rest of the world in many ways growing up, but how connected the world is to us. Honestly, I am never really made aware of my Blackness unless I am in a very homogenous place like India or Germany. But even in places like India, there was just a natural curiosity about where I was from rather  than any ill feelings about me being Black like I find in the States. I have more of a safety  issue sometimes being a woman while traveling than being a Black woman.

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You have launched a new site called CrushGlobal Travel. Can you tell us about it? What inspired it? What are your hopes for it’s future?                                                                

CrushGlobal was born out of my desire  to create a deeper understanding between people through travel. The site offers features, tips and first hand accounts of travel and culture from writers around the world. We also offer curated travel experiences, and will be launching our first group adventure later this year with a few really, really dope people who have a similar vision. Responsible tourism will also be a large component of our curated experiences, meaning, we will find ways to connect to and support the local people and economies of the places we visit. My love for travel and people inspired the brand. I have seen the deepest connections between people during travel, so I want to use that to fuel a transformative movement that is more than just cute selfies under a sunset or the Eiffel Tower. I truly believe that travel can change people and the way we see and treat each other.  I think a passport is the greatest form of education and I want to get one into the hands of as many people as possible.

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Did Jay-Z really cheat on Beyonce?                                                                                                          

HA! I did not see this question coming. There’s so much to unpack with Lemonade that Jay Z’s potential infidelity was actually the last thing on my mind. I am still exploring the gorgeous imagery, the invocations of Yemaya and Oshun, the sheer enormity of sisterhood and redemption. Beyonce dressed as OSHUN gave me life– the sensuality, healing powers and fertility. I just love that there is so much to explore.

I do think that she does a great job of blending fiction with reality- and I had a very visceral reaction to the album as a Black woman. The scene where the mothers of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin hold photos of their sons broke my heart. We deal with a particular, historical, generational  kind of pain, and if you’re just looking at Lemonade as a Jay vs. B thing, you are missing the enormity of this body of work.

We give so much. Too much sometimes. Lemonade created a space for Black women to reckon with our pain and methods of healing, whether that be with a bat or in the arms of the lover who scorned us. I do think people can forgive and grow after catastrophes, but both parties have to be willing to put in the work and be accountable. Anger is easy. Forgiveness takes more work than we can sometimes fathom, but it is possible. I’ve heard a lot of women say that if Beyonce can be cheated on, anything is possible. Ladies, come on. We know good and well that one can appear to be perfect (whatever that means) and still get hurt. That’s why you have to make it a daily practice to love yourself fiercely, as hard as that may be sometimes– and keep that hot sauce in your bag.

kristinbraswell.com

www.crushglobaltravel.com

Instagram and Twitter:  @crushglobal

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crushglobaltravel/

Crowns & Style

This is a weekly series from the creative genius that is coiled up and springing from Emiliano Styles.  I loved all the videos so much I had to share. What beautiful, beautiful women live and thrive in this world. 

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  To stay abreast of new videos that come out weekly, click

 Crowns & Style

How To Thrift – Philly Style

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Philly has a wealth of fantastic thrift stores. I love thrifting and I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite Philly haunts.  My first reveal is a Philadelphia gem – PHILLY AIDS THIFT.

 Philly Aids Thrift is wonderful. The inventory is added daily so you could come everyday and find something new. Proceeds go to benefitting work towards AIDS research and relief.

Located in South Philadelphia one block from south street at 710 S. 5th Street. Phila, PA 19147 

Here is my comprehensive step by step guide to thrift shopping. 

Step One

Pick a day in which you have nothing but time to waste with listless meandering. Find a best friend and with an open mind, full stomach and a little bit of money to burn – head to your nearest thrift store. 

Step Two

Begin by browsing. Don’t go with high expectations of finding amazing pieces immediately. Thrifting is like finding love. The best comes when you least expect it. 

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Don’t be afraid to try on crazy, costumes. Think outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to go vintage, embrace 80’s bling, bulk and fringe. You will be surprised at what works for you. 

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Step Three

Take advantage of all that the thrift store has aside from just clothing. You may find some amazing music as well as household items. When I first moved into my apartment, the thrift stores were where I got almost all of my odds and ends such as cups, pots and some of my furniture.  You can find great scarves, jewelry, DVDs, and artwork. Think outside of the box!

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 Mason Jars! Do you know the DIY possibilities of mason jars?!

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Step Four

Have a photoshoot- imaginary or literal. Try on clothes, ask your friend’s opinion, allow them to talk you into items you don’t really like or need! Feel excited by your purchases because you saved mad money and your pieces are unique. 

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 Tsehaitu in this amazing purple and leather blazer. I had to talk her into getting this! Betch whet? She wasn’t feeling it at first. Its amazing isn’t it???!!

Step Five

Go grab coffee or lunch with your BF and enjoy the things that really matter like friendship and shit. 

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  On a serious, preachy note, thrifting is really important. We live in a society where “fast fashion” is as toxic as “fast food”. Companies such as The Gap, H&M, Old Navy and Forever 21 resource majority of their labor to third world countries where the labor cost is inhumanely cheap. People are living on less than $160 dollars a month making our clothing. The labor force which consists of more than 85% women are forced to work long, sufferable hours in unsafe environments. Any unions that are attempted are squashed with beatings and even death. It is modern day slavery.

There is a great cost in lives being wasted and lost under the weight of consumerism and capitalism so that we can buy flimsy shirts for $5.50 and a dress for the night for $40 at our favorite teeny bopper store. For more information check out this video trailer “The True Cost”. You can watch this movie on Netflix.

When you decide to shop at thirft stores, you take away the demand for “fast fashion”, you lessen the effect on the environment, you show corporations that you are aware and strong enough to make your own choices. You wash some of the blood from your hands and pay respect to the hard working, real people you are inevitably connected to in this world. 

Ignorance is bliss. Wake up.

How to Grow Out An Undercut | Tip # 1 |

 

Do you have any tips to share? What are you guys doing to endure your awkward grow out phases?

SuperHERoes – Halloween Inspiration

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Recently discovered Paola Mathe of Finding Paola and I am obsessed. She is the shit. I can’t describe the happiness and inspiration I get when I see women gettin’  their lives! Yaaasss!

Anyway Paola and some friends just murdered the damn game with their recent photo shoot as superheroes set out to represent for the misrepresented. Check out some more photos from the shoot and follow Ms. Paola’s badd self on her blog. 

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“We fight for those who are told their tears don’t matter.Where the police hurts more than serves, and eating establishments are built just to shorten the lives of the community. We fight for the strong who have been stripped of their powers. We fight for the invisible.” 

Practicing Safe Sex “What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Sex”

Listen up ladies! This is meant for you to learn and gain strength from!

“Safe sex” is protection from so much more than just STDs and unwanted babies. I have learned time and time again the hard way about maintaining clarity and my integrity before sharing myself sexually with another person. I hope you all take heed and avoid the pain, confusion and disappointment that is often the sad remains of relationships fueled solely on sex. 

Undercut Hair Grow Out Challenge!!

I have officially decided that I am going to grow out my hair. I am ready for change. I am ready for challenge. I am ready to rock twist outs and ponytails and have it get on my nerves again. I have a mohawk right now so I have a center section with significantly longer hair and very short hair on the sides. Uggh, this is going to be a bitch to grow out. I refuse to cut it all evenly until my sides grow out some more though. Anyway, here is a video describing my plan of action.

Who else is ready to keep their heads warm this winter? Who else is growing out their shorter hair styles? I think we all should keep one another motivated and away from scissors and barber chairs!  Send me some pics of your starting point for this challenge! I will share yours as well as my growth every 2 months or so to see one another’s progress. Lets get it! 

(Starting point) Oct 2015

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Tag @aroundthewaycurls on instagram with your photos with the hashtag #undercuthairgrowout

Or email photos to aroundthewaycurls@gmail.com

The Conscious Barber : Derrick Banks, Owner of Freshly Faded

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1.Tell us about yourself. What’s your name? Where were you raised? Where do you currently reside? 

My name is Derrick Banks I’m 30 years old I was born and raised in San Diego California and I live here also.

2. How did you become a barber? 

I would say barbering found me, prior to barber college I had never picked up a pair of clippers or cut anyones hair. I quickly learned that college wasn’t for me and decided I needed to pick up a skill. I first went to an electrical school seeking to be come an electrician, they told me they had a 2 year waiting list. I walked out of there disappointed. However around the corner from the electrical school was the barber college, I went in there just to entertain the idea. They told me I could start the next day if I wanted to, that was 10 years ago and the rest is history.

3. How long has Freshly Faded been in business?

I opened Freshly Faded Barber + Shop in April of 2013. The shop actually started as a website www.freshlyfaded.com which was a portal through which I asked my clients to schedule their haircuts through. It also allowed me to blog and express my views and opinions of the world.

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4. Your instagram handle is “conscious barber”. What exactly is a conscious barber? How do you describe the connection between hair and spirituality?

Conscious Barber: to be “conscious” I’d say one has to know first who they are, where they come from, and where they are in the world and in society.  Also after one gains that level of intelligence one must be aware and living in the present moment.

Hair and spirituality: If you look at any group of native people around the world you will see that they place high significance on their hair.  And also they will somehow link hair with the spiritual realm.  I see it this way. Our bodies and everything else is made up of fields of energies vibrating at different speeds, and that energy is shifting and flowing through us out into the world constantly.  One of the areas that gets blocked and doesn’t allow energy to flow naturally is the crown of the head, What I do is I work on the slow moving energy which is the physical (hair) and simultaneously work on the fast moving energy traveling outward from the top of the head.

5. I noticed a photo on social media of a sage smudging performed by you on a client. Can you share the significance of this ritual as it pertains to grooming? How does your clientele respond to such activities going on while in the barbershop?  

I never really liked the word smudging because it sounds as if I’m doing something dirty. All I’m doing is using smoke from the sage to clear up negative or stagnant energy that is built up in the crown area of the client.  I am a healer, what good is it to clean up the outside of your house when your inside is dirty?  Our clients love the experience because they know how they feel afterwards.

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6. Do you see a holistic approach to grooming emerging for men of color? How do the worlds of self care/love and grooming intersect for men?

I think for men it is a bit tricky, we have been tricked into believing that self care/love means that we must sacrifice our masculinity to do so.  I think you can still be very manly and still like to look and feel your best.  Some companies out there have been able to effectively market that, but I think it is extremely difficult.

7. You are a black man. You are a successful entrepreneur. Due to your physical attributes and chosen profession, you are often met with risk – physically and financially. Are you often fearful? How do you deal with your fear? 

I really don’t understand this question.  As a black man in society of course there is a level of caution that you must move with, but fear? No fear is something else entirely, fear is something that limits you from success, that isn’t really based in reality. If black people are the original people of this planet then everything here on earth as long as we live in harmony with it can be used to our benefit. Where is the fear in that? Financially, I know that I am going to alway be taken care of, the whole planet is abundant.  The tree has thousands of leaves the dirt has millions of grains, I guess its just important to know that you can never be lacking of anything as long as you remain conscious of who you are and where you are. That is the key.

8. After reading your blog, watching your videos and seeing your social media posts it is very clear you are proud of your blackness. At the same time you were raised and educated in very diverse communities and your staff as well as your clientele are diverse. What then is blackness to you? Is it simply you being you unbothered by other’s perceptions or is it a matter of conscious (there is that word again) education and redefinition of what blackness is for others? 

Here is another question I’m not sure I understand. What is blackness to me?  Blackness in America as defined by America begins with slavery and continues all the way up to President Obama.  The collective achievements and mishaps of people who were once slaves and are so called free today.  But to me blackness starts with the original people of the planet.  Who brought mathematics, science, astronomy, agriculture, music, art, and spirituality to the world.  From whom everything was stolen from, and their descendants are now suffering the world over.  But some of us are waking up.  We are starting to remember who we are where we come from and where we are going.

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9. What do you think of the natural hair boom that has emerged in women of color?

America’s grip on the standard of beauty for women of color is slipping.  There was a time when they could control the various forms of media, and pump the rhetoric that white skin and straight hair is beautiful and dark skin and natural hair is not.  Now with the presence of the internet how can they spread those lies?  You can see for yourself how beautiful you are.  Look in the mirror, post a selfie and then get the positive feedback from millions of people who are just as beautiful as you are.  Black women there is no one like you, you are the closest thing to God on Earth, the sooner you realize that the sooner our situation will change.  Hold yourselves in high esteem because you have a sacred magic that no one else has.  You are it, and we love you!

10. What is your favorite hair style on a woman? 

I love natural hairstyles on women. I dig the wash and go.

 11.What is your favorite hair cut to achieve on a man? What trend do you think needs to go (for men) what is a classic look that you think will never leave (for a man)?

I like cutting fades and leaving natural nappy textures on the top.  I think it is saying to society look, I’m clean, however I am unwilling to compromise who I am because one of you made up a silly rule that all black males must be bald headed. lol.  Since there isn’t a lot of variation in men’s hairstyling I don’t think any trends need to disappear I just think they need to be more refined.  Brothas with texturizers in their hair though?  Save that for the birds, it’s absolutely terrible.  Short clean cuts with sharp clean lines will never go out of style.  But the cool thing is Brothas can make almost any hairstyle look good, both long and short.

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11. What do you envision for Freshly Faded as it grows as a business?

I think Freshly Faded will mature and branch out into other things. I’ve already done men’s haircare products, t-shirts, and other apparel.  I think I would like to recreate this vibration in other places, and give other people the opportunity to feel a part of this positive movement of consciousness. That sometimes starts with a haircut, but ends up in a shifting of a mentality.

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Thank you Brother Banks for the interview! We love to see our black men riding around and gettin’ it! We are proud of you! 

To learn more about Derrick Banks and Freshly Faded 

Freshlyfaded.com

2850 El Cajon Blvd. Suite 1. San Diego, California 92104

Tues-Sat 10am-6pm

(619) 677-4733

@consciousbarber

@freshfadedbarber

                                                                                                              (Post By Shanti)

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