When I contacted Chris-Tia to ask if I could interview her and she replied and was okay with the interview, I was soooo happy. I was like, "Chris-Tia said YES! I get to interview Chris-Tia Donaldson!" *insert happy dance*
Hope you guys like the interview.
If you can, purchase Chris-Tia's book (mentioned below) and/or her products. From what I've read about them and learnt from this interview, they're pretty amazing.
Anyways, here's the interview!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in the Detroit, which everyone knows is the hair capital of the world. I went to
Harvard for College, where I majored in Economics. After graduating, I went to Harvard Law School.
I’ve been practicing law for the last ten years. Some days, I’m like I can’t believe its been that long, but
wow, how time flies.
I’ve always been interested in business, so I have spent the majority of my legal career focusing on
strategic transactions and complex negotiations. I’ve always had a love affair with hair, but one day I
had a major mishap , and just got fed up and decided to go natural. You can read all about it in my book Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair.
Have you always been natural? If not, when did you go natural and were you a slow transitioner or you BC’ed early?
I went natural in 2002. After graduating from law school, I wore a wig for over two years at my first law firm primarily to hide the fact that my hair was kinky. At the time, I felt like I had to look like the 21st century version of Claire Huxtable (complete with flowing hair) in order to be accepted by my white colleagues, gain better assignments, appease my clients, etc.
In the end, I failed miserably when it came to pleasing others, and came very very very close to being let go from my first job. My preoccupation with my having “good hair” and my rejection of my inherent qualities as a black woman were largely part of my performance related issues. Today, I am a successful lawyer (and now businesswoman), thanks to embracing my true and natural self and abandoning mainstream notions of what it means to be beautiful.
Can you tell us about your natural hair journey?
When my hair was relaxed, it would go through this vicious cycle, where it would grow then break off, then grown then break off some more. Finally, I met a stylist, William of W Salon in Boston, who told me that I didn’t need a perm and that I could start pressing my hair. When I stopped using chemicals and started pressing my hair, I noticed a huge difference in the health and strength of my hairs. I no longer had to deal with breakage. Long story short, I decided to stop pressing my hair and wore a wig for two years.
Although I was natural at the time, I was never fully comfortable with wearing my own hair until one life changing episode happened. You can read all about it in my new book Thank God I’m Natural: TheUltimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair or get a sneak peak online at Amazon.com.
What's one thing you like about your hair?
There’s no greater feeling than being able to be the real you. When I was relaxed, I felt like every single strand had to be perfectly in place and that I was on a constant quest to discover the miracle product that would make my hair grow to bra-strap length. When I wore a wig, I had to worry about whether a guy could detect if I was wearing extensions, if it was on crooked, or if it might fly off when a mighty gust of
Chicago wind came along. Now that I’m natural, I don’t have the sense of paranoia anymore nor do I continue to nurture an unhealthy obsession with my hair. This may sound trite, but like India Arie says “I am not my hair.”
What are your go-to styles and go-to hair products?
I love kinky twists, rod sets, and twist outs. Those will definitely be on my todo lists. I also want to experiment with some more cornrow styles with designs. Right now, I’m using the tgin Moist Collection
for Natural Hair. I spent over three years researching and developing this product line, which is specifically formulated to impart moisture for dry textured hair. Our products are made in small batches, and infused with shea butter, coconut and jojoba oils, and botanical extracts to give the user softer, shinier and most importantly more manageable curls.
Okay! So, let's talk TGIN. What inspired you to create TGIN?
When I went natural ten years ago, there were very few products on the market for women who wanted to wear their natural hair, and far less information available for women looking to make this lifestyle change. Remember this was before Facebook, You Tube, Instagram or social media was a word in our vocabulary. So I saw this as an opportunity to do more research about natural hair, which led to me writing Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Natural Hair, . Building upon those years of research, I decided to take on the challenge of developing a product line for women who wanted to embrace a textured style.
It’s been quite a journey. While I went to school to be a lawyer, I spend most of my days working on packaging, designing labels, testing out fragrances, etc. I find it exciting to wake up every morning with a new challenge or problem to tackle. It totally gets my blood rushing.
You make products. Many of us naturals are really conscious about what we put on our hair. So, can you tell us what's in your products (in general) and their benefits?
Our products are manufactured in small batches for maximum freshness and formulated with shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and botanical extracts to give the user a high end beauty experience. Note, none of our products contain parabens, sulfates, petroleum, lanolin or FD & C dyes. Here’s a quick preview of our best-sellers:
• Moisture Rich Sulfate Free Shampoo: A gentle shampoo made with coconut oil that cleanses and restores the hair, without leaving it dry or stripping it of its natural oils.
• Triple Moisture Replenishing Conditioner: Our special formula is enriched with shea butterand sweet almond oil to hydrate, smooth and repair strands with every use.
• Honey Miracle Hydrating Hair Mask: A deep conditioner infused with raw honey and olive oil that fortifies and hydrates strands, and reduces frizz, fly aways, and split ends.
• Butter Cream Daily Moisturizer: An easy-to-use conditioning cream that revitalizes dry, brittle hair, creating soft, shiny coils and curls.
• Twist & Define Cream: A moisturizing cream that creates soft, shiny twists and twist out styles, with long lasting curl definition.
TGIN is not just about hair, I've noticed. Do you have a couple of tips you can share with us on healthy living?
Steer Clear of Processed Foods (other than frozen veggies). Many processed foods are made with transfats, saturated fats, and large amounts of sodium and sugar. These types of foods should be avoided completely or eat them sparingly. Always go for brown over white since it has the fiber and nutrients, which causes you to be full. That means brown rice, brown bread, brown bagels, whole wheat pasta, etc.
Eat out less. Cook at home more. When you cook at home, you know exactly what you’re putting in
your food. At restaurants, a lot of foods are dripping with excess calories because they are swimming
in butters and sauces. If you have to eat out, go for ethnic foods. They tend to be better for you then American foods, since there aren’t a lot of breads and fries. Think Indian, Thai, Sushi, Mediterranean, Mexican etc.
Drink plenty of water. Four years ago, I used to drink diet coke with almost every meal after 11 am, but I noticed when I stopped I wasn’t as bloated as I used to be. There have been some studies to suggest that diet coke, even though its zero calories, can actually lead to weight gain because your body doesn’t recognize the artificial sweeteners as sugars and hence doesn’t metabolize it properly. Now, I tend to drink water and ice tea, which is basically water with herbs.
Drink a Green Smoothie For Breakfast. A green smoothie is basically a salad in a glass. A lot of my friends and fans have tried green smoothies, and the consensus is people overwhelming love them. Green smoothies are great because you’re drinking raw veggies with an apple juice blend, so the sweet balances out the sour creating a party in your mouth. Greens are great, because they are alkaline, high and fiber, and help with digestion. They also give the skin a younger looking appearance, and help with hair and nail growth. Raw greens are even better, because vegetables tend to lose a majority of their nutrients when they are cooked, which is why green smoothies are awesome. You can check out my blog for some of my green smoothie recipes.
Limit Fried foods – I love mozzarella sticks, fried goat cheese, and French fries, but I try to limit my intake of fried foods, otherwise.
Take Time to Meditate. EverMorning Before I Leave the House., I try to read a devotional every morning, whether it’s my Bible or Joel Osteen’s blog. I find that staying in touch with God keeps me centered and my faith strong. I heard the best quote, “If you pray, don’t worry. If you worry, don’t bother praying.”
Your book! Tell us about it. (please include your reason for writing it and where it can be found)
I wrote Thank God I’m Natural to help dispel some of the most common myths and misconceptions about kinky hair. Part of the reason it took me so long to let go of my relaxer is because I was so misinformed. Like so many black women living in America, I spent almost a quarter century wishing for hair that looked nothing like my own, and thought I couldn’t wear my hair in its natural state, because my tresses looked nothing like Alicia Keys’ or Mariah Carey’s. When I came to the realization that I could go natural, I wanted to share all the information I learned about caring for my hair with others. I also wanted to let the ladies know that going natural would not put an end to their career, prevent them from getting a date, or require them to join the “movement”.
You can purchase a hard copy of my book online at www.amazon.com or www.tginstore.com. You can
also download the e-version on your iPad, Nook or Kindle. The book is also available at Barnes & Nobles, Borders and at your local black bookstore.
Any advice for the naturals out there?
Like so many black women, there was a point in my life when I spent so much time, money, and energy on trying to achieve hair that looked nothing like my own. It impacted my exercise schedule, my love life, my finances, and more. When I finally decided to let go and love the hair I was born with, I experienced a peace like no other. It was like everything came into focus, and I could finally say Thank God I’m Natural. . . . This is just the way I’m supposed to be.
You can find Chris-Tia on: