Not only is she blessed with gorgeous long, luscious, locs, supple skin and a beautiful smile, Shelli of Hairscapades now has another precious adornment… her fabulous fiancé Weusi Baraka. Shanti and I met Shelli this past summer at Curly Nikki’s NYC event and we were so happy to see her man there in full effect and in support of his boo while beaming with admiration. So, since relationships often come up on our blog we decided to pick Shelli’s brain about what makes her relationship work…. pens and pencils ready ?
Hey lady! Introduce yourself for those who are lost in the sauce and don’t know the know.
LOL! Hi, my name is Shelli and I’m the natural hair blogger behind Hairscapades.com!
How did you and your fiance meet?
Well, we originally met 11 years ago … 2001, I believe. He was Talent Management on HBO’s Def Poetry and my best friend was one of the poet’s recording. He was this short guy with a fro almost as big as him. LOL!! We were peripherally connected through that friend for 8 years, because he and she worked together every two years on a Midnight Poetry show at the National Black Theatre Festival in NC. My friend would say that he always asked, “How’s your friend with the pretty smile?” But, that was about it. Well, in 2009, I attended the theatre festival for the first time and sparks flew. I remember saying, “But he’s so little!” And my friends kept saying, “YOU’RE LITTLE!!” LOL!!
When did you realize Weusi was the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?
You know, I don’t know if there was a specific moment. I haven’t been in love many times in my life. In fact, I’ve only really been in love two other times. And, both of those times, it was like love on first date. You see how that worked out!! LOL!! With Wei, it was gradual and almost kind of snuck up on me. It actually happened when he was staying in Paris for two months … I just missed him so much and was so happy when he finally returned. From there, I guess it just evolved and I realized, this is my heart.
My mother told me that every woman should have a list of non-negotiables when it comes to men and relationships. For example, he has to like and want children, he has to be independent and self sufficient and so on and so forth. Do you agree and if so, what were/are your non-negotiables? Or do you think having a list limits us and could potentially result in us missing out on someone great?
It’s so funny. I never consciously had a list until 2009!! The spring before Wei and I started dating, I ended up having lunch with a colleague who I didn’t know that well. But, she was a total doll and we ended up having this heart to heart. I think I was bemoaning being 37 or 38 or whatever and still being alone. Well, she told me that she had just been watching Oprah (I think) and Oprah said to write a list of the things that you want in a partner and put it in your lingerie drawer. She said to look at it periodically and visualize your life partner. You know, that whole power of visualization and speaking things into being thing. So, I did it! I think I did it that very evening. And, it’s still in my drawer. I just pulled it out, but I’m torn about sharing it because Wei never wanted to see what was on my list!! LOL!! So, I’m not going to tell you the whole thing but I will say that #1 was, “Believes in God & Jesus and wants to live life to God’s standards, even if [he doesn't] always meet them. (Wants to grow)” Next on the list are “Loyal; Honest; Smart (not brilliant per se, just enough so it challenges me to be better or matches me) – college degree not necessary, but would be nice; Makes me laugh; POSITIVE.” That’s exactly the words written on my piece of paper. There are a few more, but I’ll leave it at that. Let’s just say, Wei doesn’t have everything on the list, but he has the non-negotiables and the things that are missing, he’s working towards.
As to the question of whether every woman should have a list … ummmm …. I think that it can be problematic for some. My list was very basic, general and realistic, I think. It was helpful to me because some of the things on the list were put there because I learned what I DIDN’T want by going through bad relationships. But, I think some lists are so specific and so demanding that they can be limiting and prevent a woman from giving someone a chance who might be perfect for them and just what they need. You know the kind I’m talking about, “Millionaire, owns a luxury car, two houses, chocolate brown skin, six pack, nice toes, has all of his teeth.” Shoo’, a snaggletooth can be sexy, you ain’t know?!?! LMBO!!! I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist!! Okay, but seriously, you know what I’m saying. I think a list can be a good thing or a bad thing. It all depends on how it’s used and if the person writing it has some flexibility on some things and choses non-negotiables that speak to the character of a person and not materialistic or superficial things.
Relationships can be hard and a lot of work. What do you think keeps your relationship so strong and how do you know when you’ve put in all the work you can and that it’s time to move forward?
I think what makes our relationship work is that we both want to be happy and try to surround ourselves with positive people and experiences. He’s super laid back and I’m pretty laid back … for a woman!! LOL!! I think the fact that we met in our late 30s (I’m 40 now and he’s 42), we both know who we are and what we want. So, there was never any game playing or facades. It’s cliche, but communication is sooooo important. It’s definitely not always easy. I struggle with it. I HATE to fight … with a passion. So, I’m wont to hold in my feelings when I’m upset because I don’t want to get into an argument. And, I’m a talker. But, when I’m mad about something? I don’t say anything. So, Wei has to push me to tell him when I’m upset with him sometimes. But, he not only does that. He wants to find out why. On the other side of things, I have to push him to talk about things that are bothering him externally. He tends to keep things that he is working through to himself, but I can always tell when he’s doing that because his demeanor changes. And, when we have these conversations where we’ve had to push each other a little, we are both able to talk. We don’t speak over each other. We don’t scream at each other. We don’t curse. It may be solemn, but we just talk. And, sometimes there is no answer. No resolution. But, at least those feelings and thoughts aren’t boiling inside until the pot boils over!! At the end of the day, we love and are thankful to have each other. And, whenever I get disheartened or down, he tells me, “God’s got us!” LOL!
How did you know that the love you were in wasn’t just love but healthy, true love?
I was in a really bad, roller coaster, Superman highs, subterranean lows, on again/off again relationship a few years before I met Wei. As I said above, I’m pretty laid back. I don’t fight, I don’t fuss (at least, I didn’t ) … shoot, I’ve been nicknamed, “Sunshine” by three different guys. I don’t enjoy being angry or miserable, so I get over things quickly. My mom used to say anger rolls off of me like water off of a duck’s back. I just like being happy and living as stress-free as possible. All that being said, I was in a relationship with a man who I thought was great and sweet and sensitive and funny. Turned out, he was constantly upset by something I did or said. He also thought that the world was out to get him and had so much anger and negativity about EVERYTHING. He had me walking on eggshells for fear of hurting his feelings because of his insecurities. It took me two years to finally see how dysfunctional he was and, hence, our relationship. After that, I realized that I needed someone that could see the positive in life and lived with that always in mind. Wei is definitely that person. He is my calm and my peace. When I’m in his arms, I’m home.
Do you believe that there is one person for everyone or many people one can make it work with?
I don’t believe that there is only one person for every person. I think this is a huge world and that there are tons of amazing people out there. The trick is MEETING them!! LOL!!
What impact has the inception and success of Hairscapades had on your relationship and how do you balance the two?
Wei has been my supporter from the door! He is 100% behind me with the blog and is always pitching ideas on how to make it bigger and lucrative !! He attends events with me, guest blogs for the site (his feature is, S.O. He Says where he discusses hair, our relationship, does interviews, etc.), tells everyone he knows about it and often is the reason I get products to sample and review!!! The one challenge is balancing spending quality time together in the midst of working, blogging and life!! We often sit on the couch, side-by-side, not saying a word as I work on my computer and he on his. He often tells me that he’s writing his guest blogs so that I don’t have to write as much and we can go to dinner and a movie : ). It doesn’t really work though!! LOL!! I’m still trying to figure out how to balance working a demanding management job, blogging, maintaining a clean house (laundry is in various states of disarray as I type), eating healthy and exercising. Balance is definitely a work in progress. And Lord help us if/when we have a kid *fingers crossed*.
When it comes to natural hair, is your fiance very knowledgeable and in the know or is he supportive in letting you do your thing without having any real interest.
LOL!!! Okay, he isn’t VERY knowledgeable, but he knows a thing or two:). He definitely knows about henna and how time-consuming it is. He likes the conditioner in the blue bottle. He loves the Ouidad Double Detangler, and the little shampoo brush, though he doesn’t know what either is called. He’ll point out hair that he thinks that I’ll admire. Also, he had very, very long locs back in the day, so he knows a little about natural hair care too. However, he doesn’t take much interest in his own hair and has to be reminded to put something in it since he keeps a low ‘fro. LOL!! Anywho, as I said above, he not only supports me, he is all up in the Kool-aid!! And, I love it:)!!
10. Lastly, what advice do you have for young woman looking for a love in this day and age?
Oh wow. That’s a hard one and I don’t know that I’m one to be dolling out advice about relationships and looking for love. But, the things that I would say to any and every young man and woman are, be genuine about who you are as a person and know your self-worth. Don’t pretend to be someone you are not to “get” someone, because they’ll eventually find out who you really are. And honestly, don’t you want them to love you for who that person is? The self-worth is so important because if you don’t value yourself, no one else will and it makes it easy to find yourself in an abusive (whether physically or emotionally) and/or dysfunctional relationship. (Shoot, I have a good amount of self-worth and still ended up in a relationship with someone who had me scared to talk, because I might talk over him and hurt his feelings!!) So yeah, be YOU and know that you is a pretty awesome person!!
For more info on Shelli visit her blog here. And to read more about her engagement click the links below. They are sure to make your heart skip a little. (In case you didn’t know, I’m a sucker for love and a hopeless romantic)
Married, engaged, kinda boo-loving or single…Let us know, what are your secrets to maintaining a healthy hearty relationship?