Fashionable Friday Feature: Zoé

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Hi there! I’m Zoé, a twenty-something curly girl from L.A. that now calls NYC home. I’m the founder of CurlzAndTheCity.com, a blog that chronicles my naturally curly crop, my style and my everyday adventures in the Big Apple.

How would you describe your style?

I’d sum up my style in about three words: Colors, Prints and Thrifts. I love wearing bright colors all year round. Prints are commonplace in my wardrobe, and I’ve recently had big obsession with contemporary styles in African prints. And, the majority of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe were found in thrift and consignment stores…you can find such great, one-of-a-kind pieces in second-hand shops.

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How do you decide what to wear in the morning?

I like to say I’m an artist, but not in the traditional sense. My body is my canvas and my clothes are the hues of paint that decorate it. Unless I have a big event that I need to plan an outfit for, I usually just wake up, decide how I’m feeling that morning, and pick one item out of my wardrobe that expresses that visually. Then I build the rest of my look around that.

What are your favorite wardrobe pieces?

I recently purchased this African print dress from designer Tribal Groove on Zuvaa.com. It’s pure perfection! (This is the dress. Image is attached.)

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Where do you typically shop for clothes and accessories?

Thrift and consignment stores are my typical go-to spots. I’ve nabbed everything from leather jackets to designer boots at second-hand shops. I also shop for basics at H&M, Zara and Forever 21 to complete my looks.

How does your natural hair work with your style?
I don’t feel like I truly learned what individuality or authentic self-expression were style-wise until I went natural. My curly hair brings out the funky, creative, edgy, ‘stand out from the pack’ side of me and I like to put outfits together that match that. My hair and my clothes work hand-in-hand. They’re my most important outlets for self-expression.

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How long have you been natural? Have you always embraced your curls?

We’ll, I’ve been ‘natural’ pretty much all my life. Growing up my mother never put chemicals in my hair. But when I was in middle school, the Spice Girls were big and all I wanted was to have Mel B’s full-bodied curls. I didn’t know what a twist-out was at that point, or that my hair could achieve the same Mel B. results without chemicals. So I talked my parents into letting me get ‘curly perm’ when I was about 13. It ended up looking more like a jerry curl than anything and, over the course of a year, it made all of my hair break off. Needless to say, that was the first and last time I ever experimented with a relaxer/perm.

Once my hair grew back, I mostly wore straight styles achieved by pressing my hair and with weaves. With the frequent heat that was put on my hair though, after a while my hair stopped reverting back to its naturally curly state. So, I had to grow out my heat damage, much like people grow out relaxers.

I’ve always embraced big, beautiful, curly hair. But it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I learned that my hair was naturally all of these things with the right technique.

What prompted your transition from heat? Was it is similar to transitioning from a perm?

Most of the reason I wore my hair straight for so long was that no one had really taught me how to care for or really appreciate my natural hair. One day I turned to YouTube when natural hair vloggers were just beginning to take off and realized my natural hair was a world of possibilities!

I started by doing twist outs set on the flexible rods, since my ends were permanently straight and would no longer curl. As my hair grew out, I slowly cut off the damaged ends over the course of about two years. So it was very similar to transitioning from a perm.

How would you describe your hair?

These days I wear my hair in the short tapered style you see now…and I absolutely LOVE it! I cut it about two years ago, a little over three years into my natural journey. I’m especially in love with the red color. It adds an extra touch of flair and femininity to a short style like this.

What do you love most about your hair?

What’s not to love?! I love how versatile it is. I love the texture. I love how my hair accentuates my best facial features. I just love being a natural girl all around!

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What has been the most memorable part of your journey? Has it been easy or difficult or both?

Some people think that natural hair doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it actually requires a lot of time and care. Initially, I think the hardest part was establishing a regimen—figuring out what worked for me and my curls and establishing a timeline for caring for my hair that fit into everything else going on in my life as a busy New Yorker. So, I think one thing I would tell new natural girls is to establish a regimen early on and stick to it.

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What have your experiences been as a ‘natural.’ Any memorable reactions from family or others?

Well, by day I work in Corporate America as a marketing manager. And years back I remember putting off ‘going natural’ for months because I was concerned about how I would be perceived in a very corporate environment. After a while though, I realized that those insecurities were really my own and that if I rocked my style with care and confidence, like I’d always done, no one would be able to tell me anything. I was right. My coworkers love my hair and I’ve actually had great new opportunities open up to me career-wise since. There are dozens of natural hair styles that look neat, pulled together and office-ready. Confidence is key!

What is your hair regimen (including fav products)?

About once a week, I co-wash my hair in the shower. When I get out, I apply a combination of a few different products:
1) A leave-in conditioner. I prefer Devacurl B’Leave-In.
2) I add a curl cream to help define my hair, typically Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie or Cantu Shea Butter Curl Activator Cream.
3) I then add a light hold gel to minimize frizz and help my curls keep their shape. I like Eco Styler.
4) I diffuse my hair dry and that’s it! It takes about 1-hour every 6-7 days.

In between wash days, I sleep on a satin pillow case to preserve my hair and when I wake up I spray on a little oil spray, fluff and go.

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Anything you want the readers to know? Inspirational words?

No matter what, rock your curls with confidence at all times. Your twist out is not going to look perfect every single time and your wash and go will not always go as planned. It’s okay though. That’s all part of the beautiful journey that is natural hair. Even if every curl isn’t coiffed to perfection all the time, hold your head up high, know that you still look beautiful and realize that you’re turning heads.

 Where can people find you for more information?
In addition to my blog www.CurlzAndTheCity.com, people can follow me on Instagram at @MissZZ (www.instagram.com/missZZ ). On the site you’ll find information on my hair regimen and my favorite products. You’ll also find regular style posts featuring my vintage-meets-modern outfits and fashion finds.

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