In four sentences or less, share with us a little bit about yourself.
Hey! I’m Toia B., a wife, sister, daughter and 30-something Barbadian-born Brooklyn girl. I love to create, I love to laugh, I love fashion and of course, all things hair! I acquired my license in cosmetology in 2004 and started the blog ToBNatural (which is an amalgam of my name and, of course, my natural hair) in August 2012.
When did you decide to go natural? What were your reasons?
Funny thing is, it was more of a decision to stop relaxing my hair than an intentional decision to return to my natural texture… if that makes sense. Ha! One day back in 2009, I just decided that I wasn’t going to touch-up my roots again. I had been tired of the whole process for some time but it was something my husband said while I was relaxing (burning!) my hair for the last time that finally hit me. “*shaking his head while chuckling* I don’t understand why you women do that to yourselves. Just wear your hair the way it is!” He was right. Why WAS I doing that to myself every other month? From then on, I was done.
What does being natural mean to you?
Well, for me it simply means that I am now totally ME… who I’m supposed to be. This is the hair I was born with and now I’m finally back to that. It’s how it should have been all along.
What prompted you to start blogging about natural hair and your personal fashion?
I could talk hair and fashion for days and it showed… all over my personal Facebook page! I just had to share everything I was learning on this journey. Not wanting to annoy friends who didn’t care about that stuff, I started a Facebook fan page- Toia’s Natural Hair Affair. That spawned a Tumblr blog of the same name where I posted mostly pics and wrote one article per week, alternating between fashion advice and hair tips. I had always loved to write and I had a lot more I wanted to share so I thought I should try a WordPress or Blogger site. The rest is history.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Let’s see… unless I have other plans, I’m awake by 9-ish and I read a scriptural text to start the day on the right foot. I check and reply to a few emails on my phone while in bed, maybe read the latest post of a fellow blogger or two and I’m up by 10 the latest. After the morning routine-cleansing, breakfast, etc- I look over my To-Do Book… I scribble everything I have to do in detail in there. For a change of scenery, I usually hit a coffee shop by around 2pm, if not before, and start tackling that To-Do Book which usually means article editing, emails, photo editing and other randomness.
What have been your struggles? What would you caution new bloggers not to do on social networks?
I’ve struggled with a bit of writer’s block at one time or another but you’d be surprised where you can find inspiration. For new bloggers, you’re in control of how much of yourself and personal life you put out there. Your social networks, if under your blog/brand name, should be an extension of that. If you do share personal stuff, remember that people are watching and what you put out there could potentially make or break professional relationships if you’re looking to go that route with your blog.
You attend a lot of [industry] events in New York City sponsored by lots of different brands. What sets you apart and makes you “special” to these companies? Why do they look to ToBNatural.com to spread their mission and expose their new products?
We live in an age of getting info right now and social media plays a big part. I’m on social media pretty heavy so when brands want to get the word out, they turn to those in the community who will help them get the most exposure possible. Also, I’m completely myself when communicating be it on the blog or social media and always give my honest opinion. I think brands appreciate that.
I also know that you recently started hosting your own solo events. What pushed you to do that?
I cohosted two events with friends back in 2010 & 2011 so I already had some experience. As my audience began to grow, I wanted to spread the love and really assist women on their natural hair journeys by gathering some of the best and knowledgeable in the biz to give them accurate and helpful tips and encouragement to keep them going. It’s been fun!
What’s one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting your blog and hosting events?
This is something that I already knew going in but I’m constantly reminded that good planning and organization is key in both cases. You can’t just throw yourself into either blogging or hosting events. You need to make sure you realistically have the time, energy and mental space to devote to either one if you want them to succeed.
What are some of your favorite natural hair styles?
A large chunky fro, Marley twists, my “Twisted Fauxhawk”, the Nicole Melton Top Knot and lately my inverted French braid/faux French braid pompadour duo (which I’m rocking currently).
What are 3 natural product brands that you reach for when you have to be picture-perfect for events?
Karen’s Body Beautiful, TGIN and SheaMoisture
Based on the products you are currently using please fill in the blanks:
· I detangle my hair with SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Extra Moisture Detangler in conjunction with my Q-Redew Hair Steamer
· I shampoo my hair with TGIN Moisture Rich Sulfate-Free Shampoo
· I style my hair with Coconut Oil OR Karen’s Body Beautiful Butter Love
· I oil my scalp with “spiked” JBCO (I add rosemary, peppermint & tea tree essential oils)
What or who keeps you inspired and pushing forward?
My loving and super supportive husband helps keep me focused and is so encouraging. Adore him! I’m ecstatic when followers or readers see me and tell me that something they read on my blog or on social media actually helped them! To know that I’m accomplishing what I set out to do with ToBNatural really keeps me going.
How can we keep up with your natural hair, events and all-around amazing journey, where can you be found online?
I’m just about all over the interwebs!
4cHC Crew, we hope you enjoyed our interview with Toia. To stay connected with Toia, follow her links above. Do you have additional questions for Toia? Or perhaps you just want to give her kudos for being a trail blazer. Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!