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Monthly Archives: September 2010

An interview with Nekesa of Nekesa’s Natural Radiance Hair Loft

Recently, I was given the opportunity to interview a local Atlanta natural hair stylist and product manufacturer: Nekesa, owner of Nekesa’s Natural Radiance Hair Loft. Since this was my first interview for my blog, I wanted to ask questions concerning her background, hair advice to natural and transitioning women, hair inspirations, and questions related to her business.*

Background: Being a natural hair stylist was the only career choice for Nekesa. Not only is she a mother, wife, hair stylist, and product manufacturer, but she is also taking courses in Comparative Women’s Studies and Film at Spelman College, as well as working as a motivational speaker for high school girls. She speaks about inner beauty and self esteem.

Tiffany: When did you get started?
Nekesa: I began my company in 1997/1998. Before my current location, I had two previous locations. Currently, I am in control of my own destiny. I believe in self empowerment for women, it’s similar to the model used by Madame C.J. Walker. I teach women financial wealth and freedom.

Hair Advice: Nekesa offered many tips on hair products, hair styles, and hair maintenance.

Tiffany: What are a few of your natural hair beauty secrets?
Nekesa: “Hair changes with the seasons. In the fall, I recommend pressing your hair and in the summer time wearing your hair out and loose. A good shape is essential, it offers more definition, polish, and a chic look. For those considering color, I recommend a product known as clear cellophane. This is a color enhancer, and is sold separately from color.”

Tiffany: What is your hair advice to women considering going natural?
Nekesa: “1)Be open to different styles and options. 2)Incorporate your lifestlye. For example, if you’re a swimmer, then keep this in mind. If you like to work out, then take that into consideration when choosing a hairstyle. 3)I recommend extensions and weave (i.e. curly) for those women transitioning.” (For all natural women): “Moisture is your best friend and you have to make sure your scalp is clean. I have a product that is a scalp refresher, which helps stimulate hair growth. It is also important to massage your hair: you have to love your hair.” Moisture based-products are great for your hair. Products with avocado oil and jojoba oil. I sell a hair nourisher with made of olive oil, shea butter, and almond oil.

These products can be found for sale at: http://www.nekesanaturalradiance.com/products.html

Her products are also available for sale at Sevananda Natural Foods Market, located at 467 Moreland Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
(404) 681-2831 Phone.

Tiffany: What made you relaunch your product line?
Nekesa: I am changing the packaging; it is going to be “more chic, more fresh, clean, and eye-catching”.

Tiffany: Where is your salon located? Do you hold natural health seminars and events? If so, where?
Nekesa: My salon is located in my an exclusive referral only location. Every 2 months, I hold an event at the Macys of Greenbriar Mall in the community room. It is a free event, where I teach women how to use my products. It is open to both health-care professionals and women that do their own hair.

General Questions:
Tiffany: What made you decide to write a book? What can natural hair fans expect to find in your book?
Nekesa: I love to read and write. This book will “celebrate natural hair and texture. It is a heartfelt story about loving your texture, with tips and hair journeys”. It is due to be published at the end of 2010.

Tiffany: Have you noticed a change in the reception of natural hair?
Nekesa: “Yes, more women are wearing natural hair. It’s more trendy. It’s more accepted than it has been. I guess because there’s strength in numbers. Some celebrities have it. It helps to see it in the media.”

Tiffany: Do you have anything you would like to add?
Nekesa: “Natural hair is here to stay. It should be health driven, about wellness, but also fun enough to be known as an accessory. It is one of the blessings of being a black woman. Living the versatility that natural hair offers.”

Nekesa was also kind enough to include some pictures of her work.

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What cookies could rival, or better yet, surpass Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies? I wasn’t looking for them, but they found me. In the Best of Food and Wine Recipes 2010 book. Read: cookie sandwich. Better known as Ganache-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies, these cookies are superb. Two soft and moist cookies with walnuts, filled with a creamy chocolate ganache. Love it! Every time I eat one, these cookies make me wanna dance. I unconsciously hum out loud, attracting the attention of those nearby. But I don’t care!

As usual, I am including a link to the recipe, the recipe itself, and some pictures.

Link: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ganache-stuffed-chocolate-chip-cookies
Recipe:
Ingredients
Cookies

1. 1 cup walnuts
2. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
5. 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
6. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
7. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
8. 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
9. 1 large egg
10. 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Ganache

1. 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2. 5 tablespoons heavy cream
3. 2 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4. 2 tablespoons crème fraîche

Directions

1. MAKE THE COOKIES Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the nuts in a pie plate and toast for 8 minutes; let cool, then chop.
2. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle (or using a handheld mixer), cream the butter with the sugars and vanilla at medium speed, about 1 minute. Beat in the egg. With the mixer at low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Beat in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Spoon level tablespoons of the dough onto 2 ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm.
3. MAKE THE GANACHE Put the chocolate in a bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil; pour over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Whisk in the crème fraîche. Refrigerate the ganache, stirring occasionally, until thick and spreadable, 1 hour.
4. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, until golden; let cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
5. Sandwich the chocolate-chip cookies with the ganache and serve.

The best burger I ever made came from the Best of Food and Wine 2010 Cookbook. It was juicy, made with both beef sirloin and chuck, topped with turkey bacon, a tarragon russian dressing recipe, spinach, purple onions, and cheddar cheese. Definitely melt in your mouth delicious. It is the Cheddar BLT Burger with Tarragon Dressing.

When it comes to burgers, I definitely believe that the foundation of any great burger is the meat itself. Is it seasoned properly or is it bland? is it juicy or dry? Once you have the meat, everything else is just an accessory that adds to the burger-tasting experience. Check out a picture of the burgers I made this weekend.

The recipe can be found at http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/cheddar-blt-burgers-with-tarragon-russian-dressing. I will also include it here:

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  2. 1/3 cup ketchup
  3. 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  4. 1 tablespoon grated onion
  5. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  6. 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  7. 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  8. 12 ounces thickly sliced bacon
  9. 1 1/3 pounds ground beef chuck
  10. 1 1/3 pounds ground beef sirloin
  11. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  12. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  13. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  14. 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 6 slices
  15. 6 hamburger buns, split and toasted
  16. 6 iceberg lettuce leaves
  17. 6 slices of tomato
  18. 6 slices of red onion

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the ketchup, red wine vinegar, onion, parsley, tarragon and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, turning once, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain and cut the bacon into large pieces.
  3. Light a grill and fill a large bowl with ice water. Gently mix the ground chuck with the ground sirloin, salt and pepper. Form the meat into six 4-inch patties, about 1 1/4 inches thick. Submerge the patties in the cold water and let soak for 30 seconds. Immediately transfer the burgers to the grill and brush with some of the melted butter. Grill over high heat for 9 minutes for medium-rare meat, turning once or twice and brushing occasionally with butter. Top the burgers with the cheese during the last minute of grilling and let melt.
  4. Spread the Russian dressing on the buns. Set the lettuce leaves and tomato slices on the bottom halves and top with the burgers, red onion and bacon. Close the burgers, cut in half and serve right away.

So….this past Sunday, I decided to switch my hairstyle. My two-strand twist out is my staple style. Because I was tired, I just washed my hair, deep conditioned it, and brushed my hair using an ultra-firm brush with my homemade shea butter moisturizer into an afro puff. Here are some pictures.

As you can see, it’s almost time for a color touch-up. It’s only been two months since I had it colored.

It’s been awhile since my last post. There are a lot of reasons for that: work, work, life, and some more work. But I am finally back. I did finish reading “Thank God I’m Natural” and I was able to visit Nia at Deeply Rooted.

Here are some updates:

Nia no longer works at Deeply Rooted. I am so sad about this because I think she’s a wonderful stylist. Depending on her pricing, I may just follow her wherever she goes. She re-dyed my hair the same color and cut it. I was not interested in paying additional for a style. But here’s a question about a disturbing trend. If you’re natural, have you ever been to a salon with a shampoo girl?

Let me tell you why I ask this. At Deeply Rooted, there was a very talkative shampoo girl. I complimented her on how vigorously she was washing my hair. That’s when she starts telling me that not a lot of people know how to shampoo properly, she’s one of the best, etc., she only gets paid this much and has to live off tips. Before that conversation, I had no idea that decorum suggested I was supposed to tip her. To be honest, I was absolutely floored. I wondered, what am I paying the stylist for? I have to tip the stylist and now the shampoo girl? I appreciated her hustle and enthusiasm, so I tipped her (not really wanting to). At the end of the day, I guess I can’t complain because Deeply Rooted is much cheaper than a lot of other natural salons in the area. But to me, this “outsourcing” of stylist responsibilities leaves me wondering as a customer, “how does this really help me?” I suspect it’s meant to help the stylist.

On a lighter note, I do love the color. Here are some pictures.

My Herve Lager style dress

Tiffany at the W Buckhead