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Please share this with the young curlies in your life. Or curlies of any age. Or young girls of any hair type. Or anyone. :)

Dear 16 year old Jess,

It’s 7:00 am and you just woke up and removed your “cap”. You know, that thing you so ingeniously crafted out of a pair of nylons? You wear it while you sleep in an attempt to flatten out your hair and make it take up less space on the planet. Sure, your hair puffs back out after an hour or two, and it creates a pretty deep red indentation in your forehead, but we both know you suffer major anxiety if you go to sleep without that stupid nylon on your head. Only your best friend Betsy knows your secret curly hair flattening measures. :)

(Oh, by the way – in 15 years you’ll find out that you can actually buy something pre-made that functions in a similar way. It’s called a do-rag. There’s no way for you to have known that now though. :) )

I know how much you hate your hair, and how much thought goes in to trying to control it. How you think that if only your hair was straight, kids at school would be nicer to you; maybe a boy would ask you out. You put WAY too much thought into it and you let it have way too much power over you. But that’s ok. You don’t know it right now, but you’re not the only one. You won’t find out for another 10 years, but there are millions of other curly haired girls out there who are going through the exact thing you are. Girls whose self worth is tied up in what is growing out of their head. Some of them go to much greater extremes to control it, using chemical relaxers that burn their scalp and cause all sorts of other physical and emotional pain. It’s not just you. But you don’t know that right now.

I’m writing to tell you that it’s going to get SO much better. I promise. In 10 years, you’re going to decide you’re tired of hating your hair and tired of hating yourself. You’re going to create a line of products that actually make you LOVE your curls! (Don’t roll your eyes at me like that – I INVENTED that look!)

Not only will Jessicurl products make you like your own curls and feel better about your own hair, but they’ll help other curlies love theirs as well. It’s amazing, actually. Seeing you, right now, looking in the mirror and crying, not wanting to go to school because your hair is so puffy, and knowing that it’s going to be so much different. You just have to hang in there.

See the woman in that picture below? That’s you in 20 years. No, really. It is!

By the time you’re 36, you’ll have been in business for 10 years. Curlies all over the world will be using the products YOU developed and as a result, THEY will feel so much better about THEIR hair. So please, 16 years old Jess. Hear me. I wish so much that I could tell you to stop crying. To stop trying to flatten your hair. To stop thinking that if it was straight, people would like you. You are not your hair. But who am I, right? Just some old lady writing to you from the future. Some old lady with awesome curls, that’s who!

Because finally, I realized that I have the right to remain curly. And so do you.

As you may know if you read my blog or follow my Facebook page, last month I had an awesome trip to Richmond, VA. I’d never been there, so it was great to spend some time in a new city. I got to spend some time with the awesome folks at Imago, which is a curly hair specific salon that has been carrying Jessicurl for a few years.

Mary Jo is VERY well known in the curly world and her appointment book is filled months in advance. (For good reason. :) I was in desperate need of a hair cut so I was super stoked that I was able to get a cut by her during my visit. What I wasn’t anticipating was that I’d also get to get my color done while I was there too!

Jessica is another curly redhead Jess that works at Imago and she and I became fast friends. She did the color, MJ did the cut and I think the result turned out awesome. :) My hair felt much bouncier after and much healthier than it did before. Clearly I had let it go too long in between trims.

This is me and Jess, after she and MJ had worked their magic on me. :-)

With Jess from Imago, the awesome curly who did my color

Saturday of that weekend was the Return of the Curls event put on by Keenya Kelly. I had never met Keenya but I could tell from our phone calls prior to my trip that we’d become QUICK friends. :) She’s just a sparkle, as my mom would say. :-) Tons and tons and TONS of curlies showed up for this all-day event, as you can tell from my picture below.

If it’s one thing I love, it’s getting out and meeting Jessicurl fans. :) I love hearing your hair stories and seeing your hair and helping you get the results you want from Jessicurl products. I got to meet a lot of curlies that day and had a great time.

The grand finale of the day was the fashion show. Keenya asked me if I’d be in it and since I’m SOOOO painfully shy, I agreed. :) (In case you couldn’t tell, I was being super sarcastic there.)

It was SO fun being in the fashion show! :) As you can see by the pictures below, I didn’t chicken out and get shy at the last minute. :)

For a lot more pictures, courtesy of Imago, check out the album on my Facebook page. Thanks again Imago, Keenya, and all the Richmond curlies! I had a great time and can’t wait to see you all again! :)

Up next… Canada, then… ATLANTA!

Have you ever met someone and you just instantly feel like you want to be their friend, grab their hand and skip around through a field of wild flowers? :-)

That’s how I felt when I met Nina, aka Beautiful Brown Baby Doll. :) Nina is a well known and well loved blogger, YouTube video poster and all around awesome curly who posts about natural hair, beauty and weight loss. She personally lost over 100 and has kept it off for years, and we all know how hard that is to do. In fact, it’s so hard to do that Nina was recently featured in People Magazine for her accomplishments!Here's a picture from the print edition. That's Nina with the beautiful curls! :)

Now, come ON people, THAT IS SO AWESOME!!!! I met Nina a few weeks ago when I was in Richmond, VA for Return of the Curls and she was simply one of the sweetest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. I told her, “I can tell that if we lived in the same city we’d totally be friends.” :)

I’m so overjoyed with happiness for her success and that she’s being recognized on such a national level. I also love that my Too Shea Conditioner is part of her hair routine. :)

You can learn more about Nina and follow her inspiring story at her YouTube channel, her Facebook page and her website.

I just love seeing awesome curlies doing awesome things and inspiring each other to be more awesome so that’s pretty much all I have to say in this blog post. Congratulations Nina, you deserve all of the awesomeness coming your way. :) Hugs hugs hugs from me! :)

I get a fair amount of hair questions every day and thought this one might be helpful to some of you out there. :)

Jenny asks:

I have watched your demo videos and notice that you style your hair right after you wash and condition it. However, I usually wash and condition my hair at night. In the mornings if I were to start out with dry clean hair and then wet it so it is soaking wet and then style would the products work the same? Or is it better to wash and condition my hair in the morning before I style? Thank you for your help!

Here's my answer:

Yes, it’s totally fine to just wet it in the morning and then style as usual. You might find you need a bit of leave in conditioner to help with slip but maybe not, depending on your hair. If you want to fully style your hair the night before and sleep with it curly, it’s possible to do, though a bit trickier. :)

The best bet there is to let it finish drying all the way before you go to bed but don’t scrunch it out. Let it stay crunchy when you go to bed. That extra crunch will help preserve the curls overnight as you sleep. If you have a silk or satin pillow case, even better, because they will glide over it more smoothly than cotton and stay intact better. In the morning just scrunch out any lingering crunch and you’re on your way. It won’t look AS perfect as when you style if freshly in the morning but it’s a lot more effective than trying to achieve 2nd day hair. :) I do this sometimes when I’m flying out early the next morning and don’t want to take the time in the morning to do my hair.

If you’ve been following my blog or Facebook page recently, you know I’ve been talking a bit about getting a variation of my Jessicurl logo as a tattoo. I call it the “full body logo lady” for lack of a more creative name. (We really need to name her!)

We have temporary tattoos of her that I wear at events and every time they fade off I get bummed. That’s part of how I know I really want it permanently.

This is what my tattoo will be!! :)

September will mark the 10 year anniversary of Jessicurl, and that is a large part of the reason why I’m deciding to get this tattoo now. Ten years in business is a huge milestone, to be sure, but this image, this woman, means so much more to me than “just” the logo for my company.

She is us. All of us. She is the curly, confident woman we have become through our often challenging and turbulent relationships with our hair. She allows her natural curls to flow, to be, to fly. In short, she Has The Right To Remain Curly.

I for one did not always recognize nor exercise that right and I know many of you didn’t either. The last ten years have meant a lot to me, obviously on a professional level but on a very personal one as well. The fact that I’ve had any role in helping any one of you feel ANYTHING like the woman in my logo is huge to me. The fact that *I* ever feel anything like that woman is huge to me, given how insecure I’ve felt about my hair for so much of my life.

When I think back 20 years to how I felt about my hair at 16, and compare it to how I feel about it now, I have no doubt in my mind that I want that image emblazoned on my body for the rest of my life. :-)

This is where this story gets even cooler. I consider the official anniversary of Jessicurl to be the Tuesday after Labor Day, since that is the day in 2002 that I got my business license. Makes sense, eh? This year, I’ll be up in Canada with my dad and step-mum Wendy.

I decided that I wanted to get the tattoo done during that trip, largely because my dad was one of the first people to encourage me to wear my hair down and curly back when I hated it and used to wear it up all the time. He would say, “But Jess! It’s like a big beautiful lion’s mane!” and I’d say, “THAT’S WHAT I HATE ABOUT IT!!” :-) Also, he embraced HIS right to remain curly long before I did, as he had a LOT of curly hair…ahem…back when he had hair. ;) I also just really wanted to get it as close to our anniversary as possible.

The tattoo parlor I chose is so popular, they only had one 2-hour opening during my trip ... on Tuesday September 4. :-) Yep, the Tuesday after Labor Day, exactly 10 years to the DAY. I’m feeling pretty good about this decision, folks.

So, I know, tattoos aren’t for everybody, and that’s cool. I already have two so I know I’m ok with them. And for all of the reasons stated above, I KNOW I’m going to love this one. In fact, I’m kind of counting down the days until I have it! :)

*Oh – since I know you’ll ask. I’ve decided it will go on my upper arm/deltoid area because I want it to be visible. :) My hair covers up my upper back/shoulders, I already have one on my ankle that I hardly ever see because I wear boots all the time, and I really just don’t want it on my inner wrist, as has been suggested. So, there you have it. If you’ve provided input that you don’t like that spot, well, please don’t feel I’m ignoring you. :) This is the spot that I’m personally most comfortable with. :)

I just got back from Richmond and have a longer blog post planned with pictures and more details about the trip, but for now, here's a quick video to show you the hair cut I got at Imago! :-) Also - I have a pretty important question for you in this video... ;-)

You sure made it clear that you loved Ryan's Stuff Curlies Say video when we featured him in our Contest/Scavenger Hunt/Quiz/Game-Thingie, so it seemed only fair to invite him back to announce the winners! :)

We love teaming up with Ryan for these videos, so please, post in the comments if you have any ideas for what you'd like to see from him in the future! And don't forget to scrunch! :)

One of the best parts of my job is that I get to travel to great cities and go to super fun curly hair events and meet YOU – all the awesome curlies! :)

On Monday I’m headed to Virginia and have quite the lineup of activities planned. I’ve never been to Virginia so it’s always fun to go to a new state. :)

The main event is Saturday July 28 and is called Return Of The Curls.

I’m VERY excited about this event. Keenya Kelly is the head organizer (though I know she has a killer team working with her) and her enthusiasm was so contagious that I just knew I had to be there. :)

It’s an all-day multi-cultural event dedicated to curly hair. There will be workshops, demos (including one by me) and the whole thing culminates in a super fun fashion show that night! I might be most excited about that part, as I get to walk the runway. Please-oh-please don’t let me trip! :) If you’re in or near Richmond, you HAVE to come to this!

I’m also super stoked to get to spend some time with the team at Imago Salon. Imago is a curl-specific salon that has been selling Jessicurl for years but I’ve never had the chance to meet them – until now! Mary-Jo has won countless awards for her cutting and styling prowess so I’m most excited that on Friday she’ll be cutting MY hair! (And boy do I need it – especially if I’m going to walk that runway on Saturday!)

I’ll be hanging out at Imago doing an informal meet and greet/open house/Q&A on Thursday July 26 from 3:00pm until 6:00 and then again all day Friday the 27th from 9:00 – 4:00. Mary Jo will be cutting my hair around 1:00 on Friday if you want to come by for that, but regardless, come by, say hi, ask any questions you may have and just share the curl love!

If you’re doing the math, you might be going, ‘Ok, Jess. You said you’re leaving MONDAY but you don’t have anything scheduled until THURSDAY? Are you riding your BIKE to Virginia for cryin’ out loud?”

Well, no. That’s kinda far. First off, I live WAY the heck up here on the North Coast of California and getting back there takes a full day, so this time I’m “saving time” by taking the red-eye. :) So I’m actually leaving Monday night.

When I get to Richmond on Tuesday I’m heading out into the country to hang out on the river with a friend before heading back to Richmond on Thursday for the Imago party. Neat, eh? I get to be both Country Mouse AND City Mouse in the SAME trip! I’m super stoked for that.

So, again, if you’re in the Richmond area, I hope you can make it to one of these events. If not, know that I’ll be taking lots of pictures and maybe a few videos so I’ll be keeping you posted of just how much fun it is. :) For now, I must keep adding to my packing list…

The other day I posted the first in what will be a series of blogs that were inspired by a question asked by a Jessicurl customer.

Dustin wrote, “Can you tell us about the ups and down of starting a business from scratch and some of the things that surprised you? BTW, I met you at the Mountain View Farmer's Market about 10 years ago!”

It was a great question and as Jessicurl is swiftly approaching our 10 year anniversary in September, it seemed like great timing as well. (In fact, that farmer’s market Dustin mentions occurred during the first six months I was in business!)

The thing is, I could go on for DAYS answering this question, telling stories and providing anecdotes. It could end up the War and Peace of blog posts. :) So I figured it made more sense to parse it out into a series of posts that would allow me to better address certain aspects of her question. You can read my first installment here. 

Part of Dustin’s question is, “what surprised you?” I’ve really been spending a lot of time thinking about this over the last few days, as I was jogging yesterday, doing the dishes last night and diffusing my hair this morning. :)

There are lots of ways to interpret this question but the first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that as a result of Jessicurl, I have learned that I am good at public speaking. If you read my first post in this installment, you’ll see I’m quite able to list off all the things I’m NOT good at, so I feel ok in admitting what I am good at. :)

I had absolutely no experience public speaking prior to Jessicurl and honestly, no desire to. It is said that the majority of people fear public speaking more than anything else and while I was never that extreme, it certainly wasn’t something I sought out. The Jessicurl story is compelling, however, and after about 2 years or so, I started getting asked to speak to Rotary clubs, University business classes and various other public forums.

The first few times I did it, yes, I was nervous. Not the kind of nervous where I fainted or anything like that, but I had butterflies, for sure. I knew I’d only keep getting asked though, so I thought to myself, “Ok Jess. You need to get better at this and more comfortable with it. What’s the hardest, most challenging way to do that?”

Answer? Standup comedy.

So I started doing standup comedy (not very well, mind you) as a way to get more comfortable with public speaking in general. And you know what? It totally worked! :) Now I have absolutely no trouble talking to any size group, whether I’m prepared or not.

I can’t emphasize how thankful I am about this. I realize what a fear speaking to groups is for so many people and I feel really fortunate to feel the way I do about it, given what a huge part of my life it is now. When I was sitting on my couch (nearly) 10 years ago taping Rockin’ Ringlets labels on bottles I had NO idea how important that comfort level would be in just a few short years. I still can’t do the bookkeeping and I never will be able to. THAT causes a fear in me that causes dizziness and shortness of breath like nothing else. :)

I’ve included a few short YouTube clips from a keynote address I gave a few months ago at the North Coast Youth Summit. The entire speech was about 20 minutes long so I broke it into 3 more manageable pieces.

The first two are parts of the Jessicurl story you’ve likely heard before, but the third is something new I added for that particular audience of 200 high school kids. It includes a story I’d never told in public, that, while intense, really illustrates what I wanted to drive home to those kids: That sometimes you don’t know the impact you have on people you interact with, so do your best to make sure your impact is positive.

This first segment talks mostly about my teen years and my struggles with my curly hair, including some of the names I was called and the strange tactics I employed to tame it.

Part 2 tells the story of how I created Jessicurl in 2002 and what those early years were like.

Part 3 includes a pretty intense story, the purpose of which was to illustrate to the kids that sometimes you never know the impact that you have on individual people. It's a lesson we should all keep in mind as we go through our lives.

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