Discover Colleen Eakins, the mastermind behind exquisite blog, Natural Art Maven. This graphic designer, photographer, and artist changed her life a couple of years ago to introduce a healthy lifestyle from hairs to toes. Since then, her life has never been the same. Learn more about her story.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Colleen Eakins and I am originally from Houston, TX, but I now reside in the Atlanta, GA area.
Tell us about your blog, Natural Art Maven, and your hair journey. What is the #1 message you want to convey to your fans.
I blog because I enjoy it. Although I am not a writer by trade (I am a graphic designer), I enjoy writing and I enjoy sharing my experiences and things I learn about healthy living and natural hair. This journey with my hair has impacted me in a lot of ways. By being comfortable in wearing my hair in a state that is not the norm and may not be desirable to some people has also encouraged me to really stay true to myself and not worry about the opinions of others. I am not afraid to dress the way I want or let people see the artsy, weird and creative me. My #1 message to my fans would be to be healthy in general, but to do it in a way that works best for YOU. You know you better than anyone else.
How long have you been natural?
I have been natural for two years now, as of October, but I consider Thanksgiving of 2010 to be the start of me growing my natural hair out. That was when I got my last haircut (by my brother).
What made up your mind to go natural?
I decided to go natural for a few reasons, but the main one is related to health. About three years ago, I decided to make a total lifestyle change. I started eating better (I am practically a vegan now), exercising (I’ve even done a few 5K’s) regularly and living a better and healthier lifestyle in general. Not only did I see weight loss during this change, but I also noticed better, clearer skin, more mental clarity, and I was also even able to get off of several medications I was taking due to medical issues. After a year in, I realized that if I was so concerned about what went into my body, why was I not paying attention to what went on my body? I decided to stop chemically straightening my hair, and go natural.
How did you do it? BC? Transition? What was your technique?
Once in college, I stopped relaxing my hair and tried to go without one. At that time, I didn’t even know a “natural” world existed and I probably would not have cared at that time. I just didn’t feel like relaxing and paying for it as a broke college student. I made it about 6 months before my hair conquered me and I surrendered in defeat. From that experience, I knew that I did not have the patience to transition with my hair, so I big chopped. I barely had enough new growth for the stylist to cut my hair with because my last relaxer had only been 7 weeks before I made the decision. She thought I was crazy, but once all of my hair was on the floor, I was actually pretty happy with the results. I felt liberated.
What do your peers and family think?
For the most part, everyone around me that voices their opinion seems to be in favor of my natural hair. I personally feel that it fits my personality a lot better than my straight hair did. I like to wear my hair out, and wild and crazy. For the most part, I just let it do what it’s going to do and roll with it. My boyfriend loves it every time he sees it and has even tried to practice making “twisties” in my hair. He was supportive when I first told him about wanting to chop off all of my hair, but was a little skeptical that it would ever not look “dusty” once I started growing it out. Once I got the hang of my new hair, he was totally onboard and in love with it. My family has been accepting as well, my mom is even transitioning right now to natural hair.
What are your favorite products for washing, moisturizing, and conditioning?
My favorite product to use on my hair for cleansing is my homemade black soap shampoo. It’s not harsh and stripping like most commercial shampoos, and I like that I know exactly what’s in it. For conditioning, I use a tried and true staple that is easy on the pockets, Vo5 Moisture Milk Conditioner, Strawberries and Cream. I also user this conditioner diluted with water as a leave-in conditioner as well. To moisturize my hair, I don’t really do anything special. I spray a little of the leave-in mixture and seal with aloe vera juice or diluted apple cider vinegar with water.
What is your favorite hairstyle for hair growth?
My favorite hairstyle in general, is anything easy! I am pretty low maintenance with my hair and often let it have it’s way (yes, I think my hair is alive). So, after washing, it may be a wash and go, wash and puff, or a braid/twist out. I don’t braid or twist up my hair at night, because I actually like when my hair is frizzier and not “perfect” looking. I feel that because I don’t manipulate my hair very much and I only use my fingers to detangle and style, my hair does not break or get damaged as much as it may have in the beginning of my journey. I started using my fingers exclusively back in February and I have not needed to trim my hair. I just do search and destroy missions to cut single strand knots when I come across them.
What advice do you give to people transitioning?
My advice to transitioners is…”this too, shall pass.” Lol, don’t get discouraged eventually you will reach your hair goals and figure out how to work with your hair. The awkward phases and frustrations will end, but it takes a little patience. Turn to the online community for support and help if you do not have it physically around you now.
Where can we get in contact with you?
You can find me all over the internet.
Here are a few places:
- Blog: www.naturalartmaven.com
- Twitter: @naturalartmaven
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/NaturalArtMaven
- Instagram: @ceakins1908
- Youtube: NaturalArtMaven
Where shall we see you in the near future with your brand and blog?
In the near future, you will hopefully see me traveling more and sharing my experiences maintaining this new mane of mine on the road and how I am trying to stay healthy on the move.