Hey, all my natural hair ladies and gents, I had the opportunity to chat with natural hair guru, Yolanda Renee, of EtcBlogMag. Yolanda is literally a jack- of- all- trades. She’s created a brand within the natural hair community, as well as a graphic designer for the well- known site, Necole Bitchie. Get to know this natural hair fashionista, and find out how she uses all of her talents!
Jonnita: First, your hair is bomb.com!
Yolanda Renee: Awwww! Thanks for having me! This is so dope…I’m doing interviews now. Heeeyyyyyyyy! Lol. And thank you so much…I’m so glad my hair is a hit in the natural community and beyond! I think I’ve been truly blessed. And this is proof that its more than “just hair”! So many opportunities have been thrown my way ever since going natural. It’s amazing.
Jonnita: Give me a little background info about yourself. I see you’re a mom, and graphic designer as well. Where are you from?
Yolanda Renee: I’m Yolanda Renee born in El Paso, TX, but raised in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. This is a small area and its hard for creative people like myself to make it here. But I’m still here! Lol. Thank goodness for the internet. Like I said, I’m a naturally creative person. I was born with an amazing gift of being artistic in everything that I do and I’m sooooooooo NOT bragging. I swear. It spills over into my style, my hobbies, my everyday life and everything in between. It’s truly a gift & a curse. Because I tend to do too much! Right now I run my own style blog, I’m a featured blogger on a few sites, I’m kind of a “natural hair guru” in training, and I’m a graphic designer. And yes…I’m a Mommy! I have two beautiful daughters, Taylor and Skylar. And right now this natural hair thing is taking over my life! Lol.
Jonnita: When did you go natural, and what influenced this decision?
Yolanda Renee: I started my journey in November 2011 and officially in May 2012. My last perm was approximately in November 2011, and I transitioned until my BC (big chop) in May 2012. I had like 4-5 inches of hair when I cut the permed hair off! I accidentally went natural…because I stayed weaved up. I didn’t get perms that often and one day I thought “this is so dumb to get a perm if I’m just going to cover my real hair up with this weave.” So I just stopped getting them. In between each install, I noticed how much my hair was growing. That’s when I made the decision to just go natural. There were some influences like my cousin Keena, my friend Landy, and my boyfriend’s friend, Kristin Kelli! They are all natural and they wear it well. There are some more deeper reasons why I went natural too, but that’s too much for this interview. In a nutshell though, it just seemed right. It just clicked one day! Thank goodness! I’m never turning back! I love being natural!
Jonnita: Did you always chronicle your natural hair journey? How did you begin blogging about your hair?
Yolanda Renee: If you know me, you know I love taking pictures…selfies! Lol. At first I just had a Facebook page and my blog. No Instagram account. OMG, can you imagine? From day one of becoming natural, I pretty much took a picture of myself everyday and posted it on my Facebook page. My friends call it “photo bombing”. I think it annoyed them…so that’s when I decided to stop posting so much for my friends to see…I needed an audience that really cared. That’s when I created my fan page on FB (Facebook)and got an Instagram account. Once I noticed that there were people [who] cared and loved seeing my inspirational pics I started blogging about it too. Just posting pics is not enough. My girls have questions, and posting and answering questions on Instagram is hard work. My blog and YouTube channel made this task much easier, and honestly I’m not documenting my journey on purpose…I’m just letting it flow. It’s not premeditated! I’m just addicted to social networks and it just works out that way. Lol.
Jonnita: I’ve watched some of your tutorials, how do you incorporate creating the tutorials into your daily life?
Yolanda Renee: My YouTube channel is easy. All I have to do is press RECORD. I have my camera set up at all times. Whenever I’m about to do something that’s new or exciting I record it. The only time I plan to record is if someone has a request. Other than that I do my normal daily routine. For example, if I’m moisturizing my hair before bed and I haven’t done a video on it- I press record. And then edit it the next day. Its kind of like a reality TV show to me. I just do me and there just so happens to be a camera near by. Lol.
Jonnita: What’s your favorite hairstyle?
Yolanda Renee: My favorite style is definitely my “hanging bantu knot out” technique. Which I brag and say I made it up. I’m sure others did this at some point but I honestly didn’t watch a tutorial to do the technique. I did it on accident one day because my ends weren’t defined. So I knotted my ends of my twistout to get some definition, It worked! I did that on my twist out…that night I decided to do the two strand twist instead, and add the bantu knot at the end. The results were ahhhh-mazing! So if I wasn’t the first to do it I definitely was the first to record it! Lol.
Jonnita: You’re like a jack of all trades, you contribute for Necole Bitchie, are you contributing for Curly Nikki too? And you do graphic design.
Yolanda Renee: OMG! Yaaasss! I’m very honored to have role models like Necole Kane, Nikki Walton, and Jenell Stewart. I’m a guest blogger on Necole Bitchie and I am also her graphic designer. I do a lot work for her and she was my first big client. I’ve learned so much from her. Jenell Stewart, of Kinky Curly Coily Me has also helped me out a lot. I’m her graphic designer as well. She is the main reason I have a growing audience in the natural hair community. She gives me shoutouts on her Kinky Curly Coily Me Facebook page all the time. Because of her I have thousands of fans on my Facebook page, and I get some major referrals too as far as graphic design. And Nikki Walton…what an awesome person she is. She featured my “Hanging Bantu Knot Out” on Curly Nikki! I didn’t even submit it to her. A friend and few of my fans told me I was featured. Lol. I was so excited! I then personally met her at her book signing for “Better Than Good Hair” in DC. She remembered me and I was so happy! And she told me to send her more content. I was like…ok, hell yea! Lol. So I’ve now been submitting content and I even had an interview on there. I’m telling you…there is a lot of support in the natural hair community. Lots of opportunities! I love it!
Jonnita: Your site looks amazing also..how do you balance everything?
Yolanda Renee: Thank you so much! My blog is my baby, although I’ve been neglecting her a little bit. I feel so bad. My blog, EtcBlogMag started off as a strictly celebrity fashion blog but since going natural- hair has kinda taken over. But I’m trying to blend them both on the site. Balancing everything is very difficult. Especially because I have such a carefree attitude about everything. I’m having fun wearing all these different hats- blogger, graphic designer, stylist, natural hair “guru in training”, videographer, etc. But, I can see it becoming a problem. I’m being so honest. It’s hard to focus on both what I’m trying to build for myself- my brand and to put just as much attention on my clients like Necole and Jenell. I’ve let some good deals fall through because I’ve been so overwhelmed. For example, I had a chance to work with Sundial Brands and Dr. Phoenyx Austin but I let them fall through. So the balancing thing is a work in progress. I’ll get better at it though.
Jonnita: How did you get the opportunity to work with Necole Bitchie? (that is awesome by the way)
Yolanda Renee: Necole Kane is actually from the Eastern Shore too. And I think that is the main reason why she has taken me under her wing. She knows what it is like to grow up in such a small town in Maryland with talents and get stuck here. I first got her attention on Twitter. I did a look for less from one of her events (I think it was a feature on Essence.com) and tagged her on Twitter. She retweeted it and even left a comment on my blog. I was soooooooooo happy! Then I signed up on one of her social platforms called, Born Bitchie. She was starting a clothing line called Born Bitchie too. She showed us some designs on the site and I immediately thought…I can get her attention again. So I created some designs and posted them on her site. She immediately contacted me by email and allowed me to start an internship designing for her clothing line. It was so much fun! I did tons of designs for her and put in some hard work! I think that impressed her a lot. So since then, she has used me for a lot of graphic design on both Necole Bitchie, I Am Necole, her events, clothing line, branding projects and more! She also allowed me to do her Bitchie Nails posts and some fashion related posts on [the site]. I’m very honored to work with and for her!
Jonnita: What are your future goals as a blogger, hair guru, etc?
Yolanda Renee: I want to follow in the footsteps of Nikki Walton, Jenell Stewart, and Necole Kane. Right now I run everything solo…I don’t have an assistant, PR, sponsors, etc. I do this by myself, and I think things have taken off flawlessly. If I had a team behind me and was able to do this full time, I think I would be able to be a greater force in the fashion and natural hair community. My main goal is to inspire women…especially when it comes to style and natural hair. So my future goals are to have an awesome team behind me and do bigger and better things for my fans. I want to have workshops, events of my own, I want to host events, huge giveaways, and the most detailed user-friendly information and advice. OMG what don’t I want to do!?! I just want to be great at what I do and inspire every woman that I come into contact with.
Thanks so much for having me YS Mag! This has been an awesome interview. It’s rare that I talk about my work with Necole. A lot of people don’t even know I work for her. Being a graphic designer is behind the scenes, you know! Lol. So I feel so relieved to get that out- I’m proud to work with such a successful woman! I’m proud to say that I’m learning from such great people. I’m soaking it all in!
Turn what you love into your brand. Until next time.