Well it’s not everyday you walk into an Israelite right? And she lives and owns a growing business in Barbados. If the needle in the haystack was threaded with a strand of natural hair, I think SpecialKinks could find it. Lol
Without further ado I give you all, Jessica ‘Jess’ Reynolds.
SpecialKinks (SK): State your name and country of birth
Jess: Jessica Reynolds. Israel.
Jess: 24! Until August anyway. (SK: so true lol)
And before we delved into her hair regimen and the likes, let’s get to know her.
SK: Describe you in three sentences.
- Jess: Myself in three sentences: I am creative and passionate about people and the arts. Despite being outspoken and loud, both in personal style and voice, I’m actually quite introverted and private. I’m big hearted and open-minded.
SK: How long have you been natural or transitioning?
Jess: I’ve only not been natural two times in my life. I had a texturiser done when I was 17 years old, and again when I was about 20. So, I guess you can say that I’ve been natural for at least 4 years now.
SK: Why did you decide to go natural?
Simply put, the versatility. I remember when I first got my hair texturised, it came out almost straight and I thought it was the most boring thing ever. After going so many years as a natural, I found straight hair easier to manage, but pretty limp compared to the curly mass I’m used to. Not that it stopped me from giving the texturiser another try a few years later, but the idea of having to get my texturiser touched up so I didn’t end up with two-textured hair didn’t quite appeal to me, so I just returned to natural.
SK: Why did you choose to big chop or transition?
Jess: It’s funny, because I never had an exit strategy for my texturised ends. I just kept on growing my hair because that’s what I was accustomed to doing. Then one wash day, I got frustrated with my texturised ends and just cut them off myself. I was about 18 then. The second time around, I got someone else to help me out so that my cut would look a bit more even.
SK: How easy or difficult was it in the beginning stages when you chopped or started your transition?
Jess: It was actually super easy, if only for the fact that I had at about 5 or so less inches of hair to deal with. As I had been plaiting and dealing with my hair since I was 12, it wasn’t too difficult. I just had to learn that certain styles didn’t look the same on my lopsided hair cut lol. (SK: The hardest thing is to know right?! Lol Then you can work to suit. That is what my granny always preached.)
SK: What is your hair regimen?
Jess: It’s currently evolving. At present I’m trying to keep moisturising my hair at night with some water, before sealing it with an olive oil/honey mix (or whichever commercial moisturiser I feel moved to use). I’ll also oil my scalp with an olive oil/peppermint oil mix to stimulate the scalp. So far I’ve found that my hair feels cleanest when I do a shampoo & condition at the end of the week and follow up with a co-wash mid-week. As I learn more, I try out different things but ideally I try to keep my regimen as simple as possible.
(#Sidenote… SK: Dear Readers, Stop downplaying the significance of simplicity. “Simplicity provides a fine line between elegance and plainness.” – LL Cool J, but most of you may know this as the line Dre said to Syd in Brown Sugar. That is one of my favourite movies lol)
SK: Name your favourite products
Jess: I’m always changing what I use, so I don’t often use the same products twice within a few months. That being said, I bought some Olive Oil & Mango Butter Growth Moisturiser by Elasta QP. It smells AMAZING (if you’re into the fruitier scents), but I also find that it doesn’t leave my hair feeling weighed down and greasy which is a massive plus. I’m also a fan of the Wild Bohemian body butters produced here in Barbados. They also smell pretty good, and I find they don’t weigh down my hair much either.
SK: How easy or difficult is it sourcing products that you love to use on your hair where you live or reside?
Jess: I can’t say I’ve ever had an issue. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not often that I re-use products within a few months which I think is enough time for things to go out of stock and come back in. I also try to use small amounts so I don’t end up with a grease ball on my head. (SK: lol. Here is naturalista who just might know what is a dollop or a dime-size amount J )
SK: Favourite style?
Jess: Wash and Go! Within the last few months, I’ve also become a huge fan of the halo braid.
SK: Tell me about a great hair day or a bad hair day in short, or about a liked or frustrating feature about your hair.
Jess: I often joke that my hair is actually a sentient being; it does what it wants when it wants and it could care less what I want it to do. Is that why I gravitate towards the unstyled open hair looks a lot? Most likely. Funny enough, the sheer stubbornness that can frustrate me about my hair is one of its greatest qualities. I’m pretty sure that I manage to retain my length, not due to my own carefulness, but mostly due to the sheer resilience of my hair. Even when I began to bleach my hair, I have yet to suffer from significant breakage. Gotta love the tenacity of natural hair 🙂 (SK: Amen. Lol)
SK: Do you have any hair crushes?
Solange on her wedding day
Jess: I love Solange. I love her style in general, but I just love to see her rocking a fro unapologetically. Her wedding pictures were amazing! Outside of her, anyone with big and/or coily hair is bound to catch my eye. Lupita Nyong’o (I hate how she makes me lust after her stylish hair cuts) and Viola Davis also comes to mind. (SK: Lol at the Lupita comment. She would make many big chop their long NATURAL hair lol)
SK: What would you say to employers and teachers out there who think that natural hair is not for the office or the classroom, respectively?
Jess: So many thoughts come to mind that it’s hard to even know where to start. The idea that what naturally grows out of our heads can be deemed inappropriate by some bothers me a lot. I would ask those persons why they do not consider ok for black people to naturally be themselves. Why should we be forced to conform to standards of “appropriateness” that inherently exclude how we naturally are? Or excludes the fullness of our natural self expression? Whose standards are we using anyway? These are questions that are especially important for African descended, kinky haired persons to answer I think. A little kink and coil never hurt anybody! Lighten up. (SK: Maybe Jess needs to open a church because she is preaching! Lol)
SK: Describe your hair in one word, and why?
Jess: “ID” I didn’t realise exactly how important my hair was in identifying me from afar, until I rocked a low cut! Beyond that, I feel like my big ball of (often) black and blonde hair speaks volumes about the type of person I am. It’s blonde! It’s fun! It’s black! There’s contrast! It’s often big and unapologetic and I’m sure more than one person has looked at my hair and thought I existed on the border of Cool and Crazy. My hair speaks for itself and it speaks for me, and it has no issue in letting everyone know that we’re wild! (SK: I really need to find her church bulletin. Services must be A-Mane-zing!)
SK: What is the weirdest or rudest response you have ever gotten to your natural hair and what was the best compliment?
Jess: Worst response to my hair? Pretty sure my insistence on not dying it cost me a job once lol. It was against store policy to have artificially coloured hair I was told, so I figured that wearing a wig/weave/headwrap/anything would be a good compromise. Turns out I was quite wrong, and was told in my second interview that it showed I’m a difficult personality to work with. Second worst was a random old guy telling me I need to invest in a comb lol. Outside of that, I generally get A LOT of compliments.
My favourite is people saying my blonde suits me better than my natural dark colour…mainly cause it affirms that I’ve enhanced what God gave me to suit my personality. (SK: Awww!)
SK: Name something outrageous or edgy or just different you would love to try with your hair but have not had the guts to try YET!
Jess: I do have a soft spot for pixie cuts, but I don’t have the patience to maintain it or wait for it to grow out. That’s what weave is for anyway! I also saw a picture of a girl with black & blonde hair who had hot pink ends. I think I’ll have that as my next big hair adventure 😉
Now Jess may not have a church for real but she has channelled her energy and creativity into her business Artemis Arts.
So let’s dive into this arena of this naturalista’s life.
SK: Tell me a bit about Artemis Arts and what keeps you going as a young entrepreneur in Barbados.
Artemis Arts products
Jess: At the core, Artemis Art (no s, blame FB for not letting me correct the name) is a local apparel brand that focuses on promoting positivity. I do all the designs and I even hand paint some of the shirts. As for what keeps me going as an entrepreneur, I’d say it’s a toss up between loving what I do and wanting to share these messages with others, the thrill of growing with each challenge and a dash of madness lol. It’s not a role to be taken lightly, as I’ve been learning for the last few years, but it’s rewarding to get positive feedback from customers while doing something I enjoy even when I’m stressed out.
SK: Where can you be found online?
Jess: I can currently be found at Artemis Arts. You can also use that handle (@artistartemis) to find me on Society6, Twitter and Instagram. Farmers market: Brighton, Brighton Plantation St George on Saturdays (6-10am) and Holders, Holders Hill, St James (9am-2pm).