Naturally Fierce Feature: Stephanie

hair today
My  name is Stephanie Donegan and Im from Birmingham, Alabama. I’ve lived in Los Angeles, Nashville, Dallas and Atlanta and after years of running from home, settled on Helena, a small suburb outside of Bham as home.
How long have you been natural? Ive now been natural for 8 years
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What motivated you to transition? Were you a transitioner or a Big Chopper& why?
Im a big chopper! I first tried going natural in 2002 but failed miserably trying to grow out my relaxer. The transition was simply unbarable for me. After having my son in Nov 2006 and getting a retouch a couple weeks later, I noticed that my hair began to break off terribly. Within a month, hair that was down back back was now the length of my index finger on the left side of my head. The strange thing was, the right side didnt break at all. Since I had wanted to go natural anyway, I thought this was the perfect time. I said “fuck it” and did the big chop!
I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing as at that point, natural hair wasnt as popular as it has been the last couple of years. I didn’t really take care of it as well as I should have, flat ironed it a lot and had lots of heat damage. In Feb 2010, I big chopped for the 2nd time and really went on a self care journey which included the care of my tresses.
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How would you describe your hair?
My hair is so funny. Im a 4c in the back and along the sides. In the top and the front Im more of a 4a. The front of my hair refuses to kink and curl like the rest so I have to manipulate it a bit to get it to blend in with the rest.
What do you love most about your hair?
The thickness. I use to hate how thick my hair is. Even growing up, my mom struggled to get my hair in a ponytail as there was simply lots of stands. Is still like that today but now I love it!!! I love the big Diana Ross fullness and I defintiely have that fullness going on.
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What has been the most memorable part of your journey?Has it been easy or difficult or both?!
The most memorable part of my journey was definitely the beginning. Each time I BC’ed I was forced to deal with me. Most people dont talk about it but we are so connected to our hair. Hair is what we think makes us beautiful and I must admit, when I big chopped I didn’t like what I saw reflected back. I had to go on a self love journey that has been nothing less than amazing. Lots of tears but now when I look in the mirror, lots of hair or no hair, I love the woman looking back at me!
early pic
The journey has definitely been a roller coaster. I must say I think the beginning is easier. The shorter hair seems easier to work with. As my hair started growing out, I really began to neglect it because it was more to deal with, it took longer and as an entrepreneur I just don’t have time to obsess over my hair. Because of that Ive had to get lots of length cut off to get it back to a healthy point. Now Ive developed an entire hair care routine at home and consistently get my hair done by a professional to keep it healthy. My new theory is its okay if you don’t want to be bothered with your hair, just pay someone else to handle it for you!
What are (or were) some of your favorite transitioning hairstyles or current dos?
Since I didnt transition I dont have any but when it was short, was and go’s with a little vegetable glycerin was my thing. It curled it nicely and had a nice sheen.
As it grew longer, twist outs, braid outs and roller sets on flexi rods has been my go to.
What have your experiences been as a ‘natural.’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?
I remember when I first BC’ed, I had lots of reactions such as “ooooohhh, what are you going to do about your hair?” In 2006, bc’ing was not popular so many people looked at me side ways. My family supported me as they knew I didn’t like it much either and really just wanted to be there during that time that I found difficult.
How do you feel with natural hair?
 When I rock my hair out, big and beautiful, I must admit I always feel like the most beautiful girl in the room. There is something about big natural hair that commands attention!
How is natural hair affected your dating life?
I must admit that the quality of man that I attract since being natural is definitely a much higher quality. I wouldnt trade it for the world!
What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?
Ooooh, I wish I had fav’s. Im really a natural, natural girl. I love coconut oil and natural oils like rosemary to go into my hair steamer. As far as shampoos and conditioners go, I alternate between Shea Moisture and Miss Jessies. They have been big supporters for the conferences my business partner and I use to put on and I seemed to have gotten hooked on their products.
When my hair needs a little extra moisture, I grab Miss Jessies Shampoo and Rapid Recovery Treatment. When my hair needs a little extra protein, when I start noticing extra strands hitting the floor, I go with Shea Moisture and their Deep Treatment mask which gives a good balance of protein and moisture, both of which are necesssary for healthy tresses.
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What are some of your favorite natural hair websites,YouTuber’s, or blogs?
I wish I could tell you but after 8 years of being natural, Im over the youtube vlogs. Really though…how many ways can you do a twist out, blow out, braid out, pin up, etc? In the beggining, its cool but to be honest, in 2006 there were no blogs or vlogs devoted to natural hair.
I am a big supporter of my girl Nina Beautiful Brown Baby Doll but for her coverage of both natural hair and health. I like that she recognizes that its about more than hair.
Im a big supporter of my girl Taren Guy as well. I must admit though, not for her natural hair videos as realistically, why would my 4c hair look to her and her beautiful loosly curled hair for advice on mine? LOL! She, like Nina talks about more than hair and how thats really the beginning on this self love journey! She has an amazingly beauil spirit. I love her for that!
Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words
Take care of your hair. Its so fragile. Create a weekly or biweekly routine to keep your tresses as healthy as possible and clips ends on a regular basis. That said, Its about more than hair. Sure, natural hair is beautiful but lets start working on living healthier as a whole. Watch what we put in our mouths and in our minds! It should be a complete lifestyle shift.
Where can people find you for more information
I’m a marketing coach. I help entrepreneurs create brands from their passion and market it effectively to their ideal clients. You wont find much hair info there but you will find lots of proven business advice for those who would like to start a business that can be run from anywhere or those that already have a business and would like to learn how to attract ideal clients.www.StephanieDonegan.com
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