African American people have already started to accept, embrace and love their natural hair. We have a very huge natural hair movement that took off in 2018 and ever since then, more people have been moving away from the idea of permanently straightening their hair and actually wearing their hair in a natural state. I do believe us being willing to accept our own self has helped reshape society’s view as a whole on natural hair and there is less hair discrimination.
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Abra McField.
Abra is a self-made entrepreneur professional who has extensively studied the science of hair, providing her with the necessary skills and ability to style, strengthen and regrow all types of hair. With certifications in both Trichology (approved by the American Medical Certification Association) and Psychology, Abra is able to treat her clients both physically and mentally. McField owns a salon and a hair product line under the name Abra Kadabra Hair & Healing and has plans to open her very own cosmetology school so she is able to train more professionals to combat the epidemic black women are facing on a much larger scale.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit of your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I grew up early on in a household with 2 parents and 2 younger siblings. Although that sounds like the perfect situation, it was actual quite dysfunctional. I can remember playing with dolls hair at the tender age of 3 years old. It was a creative outlet to take my mind off of things and I lost myself in it. I learned to really love it. It wasn’t just that. I was actually a creative kid. I loved singing, dancing, acting etc. When my parents separated at the age of 8, I felt lost and alone with no one to talk to or guide me. My mother was present but distant and my dad was now absent. It’s like I had to figure life out on my own. I wanted to dive more into creativity but I was forced to go the sports route instead which I hated. Although there was no love in sports early on, I appreciated all of the things I gained as a result of it; courage, team dynamic, how to handle adversary, discipline and many other qualities. Even today when running into old sports buddies, they always tell me I always made sure their hair looked good. At a young age, hair was an outlet. As I got older, it became a way to survive because my mother as a single mother did not have much money to help me with the things that I felt I needed. Because of the life I was dealt to always have to figure things out on my own, my natural creativity and being forced into sports, I felt all made up the genetic make up for entrepreneurship and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Can you tell us a story about what inspired you to become a natural hair advocate?
One of the main reasons why I became a cosmetologist was to help transform the lives of many women. What I didn’t know at the times was that it would be through the form of a natural hair movement. I found that the desire of many many women I consulted with was for them to have longer healthier hair however after thorough consultation and hair/scalp examination, I found that relaxers was the one thing preventing them from achieving their hair goals. Even with them knowing that, everyone had resistance to changing the habit of getting relaxers which is a chemical that permanently straightens your hair. Their resistance came from fear. They had no idea what they natural hair was, looked like, acted like and was terrified at the idea of not being beautiful with their natural hair. It saddened me. How could something be a part of our body but because of life long alteration that came from the decision of our parents at a very young age, we have no connection to it. Not only that, we don’t accept our natural make up. This is when I decided to empower women. They had the right to witness how they were organically made and to accept everything a part of them as beautiful. To this day, I have helped transform thousands of women who now accepts their natural hair and who’s hair is longer and healthier than ever because of it
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Well the most interesting thing that happened to me in my career was that I was chosen for “Split Ends”, the salon reality show after only 1 year as a freshly graduated hair stylist. I thought to myself “Wow! How cool is this”. I got to travel to LA California for an entire week to film. I was paid for the week. I was driven around in a limousine. I was give a very nice hotel and good food to eat. It was so interesting and fun. 2 of the stylist in my very first salon at the time and myself swapped with 3 stylist from LA. We worked in their salon while they took our spots and worked in our salon in St. Louis Mo. It was full of drama, fun and really showed the cohesiveness of stylist sticking together in the beauty industry. To see the show air on national television on the Style Network Channel was surreal. Out of 10 seasons and hundreds of episodes, we were rated as one of the best episodes.
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
The beauty industry can be very misleading. Hair is a creative expression of-course. You would think hair is suppose to be all fun and play. That’s what social media makes it look like anyways. Because of this, most hairstylist underestimate how much work it really takes to build and maintain a hair business when they decide to become a hairstylist. Owning and operating a hair business is one of the hardest jobs there are. The reason is because not only do you have to work in the business. You also have to work on your business. It actually takes quite a few double shifts because you cant use your hands to work on your website and social media if your hands are tied. Of course you can hire someone to do that, however, you have to be making enough money to cover your business expenses, personal expenses and have quite a bit left over to employ someone. Most jobs you only have to use your brain. A lot of jobs you only have to use your body. The hair industry requires an equal amount of both. You also have to focus on everything in between such as your customer services, professionalism, perfecting your craft (additional classes in order to stay up with the latest trends), accounting, taxes and last, you have to be grounded enough to counsel many clients because they indeed look at you as a counselor sometimes. This actually gives you an advantage over other hair stylist if your clients feel like they can trust you and you have a good outlook on life. If you are not ready to experience some challenges for the sole purpose of personal growth and becoming the best version of yourself, this may not be the career for you. If you you don’t discover your “WHY”, you wont make it. You cannot be in this industry and don’t know why you are in it. It cant be someone else’s why. You have to dig deep and find your “WHY” because this is the only weapon that helps you fight the battle of the “HOW”. Know your why and the how will effortlessly come.
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Look in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful instead of criticizing yourself. The mind always wants to be right so if you affirm that you are beautiful, even if you did not think so before, your mind will shift and you will start to feel beautiful. A feeling always starts with a thought. Its up to you to create the environment for the thought of self beauty. Only then will you set your beauty free to shine
There is nothing more beautiful than honoring yourself and being true to who you are. Pay attention to what you want in life and do the things that support what you want. Find things that bring you joy, laughter and fun. Be mindful of who you want to be around in life. So many of us are surrounded by negative people and this makes us feel a little drained. You don’t birth beauty from the wound of negativity. So consider removing people from your life that do not support you by transferring good energy to you and replace them with people that do. This does not mean you do not love them. This will make you feel beautiful just to have honored the space you created for yourself that feels good to you.
Exercising is guaranteed to make you look and feel beautiful; a great combination. It doesn’t have to be traditional exercising. Find a Zumba class, a cycle class with music, a pole dance class; something that gets your body moving to a rhythm and let that rhythm guide you to beauty.
Can you share with our readers some of your techniques to style natural hair?
Often times when wearing hair in a naturally curly state, I use the LOC method for the LOF method. L stands for leave in conditioner, O stands for oil and C stands for a cream. I use this method for medium-coarse hair or coarse hair. The LOF stands for leave in conditioner, oil and the F stands for Foam (or sometimes called mouse). After shampooing and conditioning really well with quality shampoo, I use these methods to further hydrate and lock in a defined curl. Once applied, the concept is to not touch hair until it dries completely or else you create frizz.
With natural hair that you straighten, you definitely have to blow dry straighten before taking a flat iron to it. Heat could be very damaging if not used properly. Its definitely better to get your natural hair pre-straightened from a blowdryer first because there is not trapped heat from a blow dryer. If you do a good blow dry, you don’t have to lose a lot of heat to get your final straight look. With passing through your natural hair, you have to make sure you are not moving down the shaft slow especially on the ends. The ends is where you want to breeze through because they are the first up against damage.
Can you share some of your techniques about how to best maintain natural hair?
The first thing to understand about natural hair is that it gets extremely dry and brittle. It would be nice if our natural oils can make its way down our hair shafts to effectively hydrate all of our hair however, our hair is too kinky and curly for the sebum to make its way down. The sebum our own body produces is the best hydrating source for natural hair and since 75% of our hair does not have access to it, we have to move to the next best thing which is extremely important; conditioning. The more coarse a persons natural hair is, the more often it has to be conditioned and the longer conditioner has to remain on the hair for longer periods of time during the conditioning process. I truly believe no one should go over 1 week without shampooing and conditioning who wears their hair in a natural state.
Also, when wearing hair in a natural curly state, wearing a satin cap to preserve the definition of curls as well as hydration is key. If you have fine to medium coarse curly texture, having a water misty bottle handy with a little leave in conditioner mixed in could really keep your natural curls fresh, defined and hydrated. For more course hair, wearing a twist out style could really help keep life a little easy when it comes to maintaining your natural hair. A twist out wouldn’t necessarily be you virgin natural curl but instead a more elongated manipulated version of your curl. As compared to like a roller set, your twist will be twisted wet and not removed until the twist are completely dry which will give you more of a corkscrew curly look or waves depending on how small or big the twists are.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can help articulate to our readers your “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination”. If you can please share a story or example, for each.
1. The first thing you need to understand about hair discrimination is that it exist.
2. The second thing is that it is no one persons fault in particular. Society collectively is to blame. For some reason we have it in our minds that the straighter your hair is, the more beautiful you are and the more accepted you are by society.
3. Because of this discrimination, African American in particular with natural kinky hair permanently altered our hair to a point where we have no idea what our hair would look or act like if we did not permanently alter it. Quite frankly, because of discrimination, we have been conditioned to be terrified of what our own body naturally produces.
4. The only way to change hair discrimination is to understand that everyone is made different beyond their control and to accept and honor the beauty in everyone. Until this, we will always struggle with hair discrimination. The hardest part is accepting and honoring our own self which leads me to my fifth point
5. African American people have already started to accept, embrace and love their natural hair. We have a very huge natural hair movement that took off in 2018 and ever since then, more people have been moving away from the idea of permanently straightening their hair and actually wearing their hair in a natural state. I do believe us being willing to accept our own self has helped reshape society’s view as a whole on natural hair and there is less hair discrimination.
At one point, I had so many clients telling me they can’t go natural because their job would not accept it. I always asked myself how do they know that. Well one particular incident with a doctor client of mine opened my eyes. She was an emergency room doctor with all types of people coming in to be seen. Several patients complained that my client naturally curly hair made them feel uncomfortable. Management from the hospital actually called a meeting about it. My client refused to alter her natural hair state. At some point, she was transferred to another hospital without consultation and she believed it was because of that.
I have also had clients in the past that was terrified to wear their hair any other way but straight because they feel like they would not be accepted. The reality was, they did not accept themselves.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
Fear has a chokehold on many of us and because of it, our gifts, power and potential or in jail. What I have discovered in my life is that my purpose is to create a pathway for others. That is not an easy task. That means I am the test dummy so to speak. I am suppose to take the hard hits and advise everyone else the road is clear. I do a lot of things that a lot of people will not do without fearing the outcome. Im courageous in that sense however it took me a while to realize this and accept it. I questioned why I was an outcast and why I was so different from my peers and elders. There were situation in my life were I was so fearless, I became fearful. I was scared of my own potential. I feared success and what type of attention it would bring. I feared not being accepted. I feared no one cared or would listen. Then I learned throughout my journey to love and accept myself. Own my path and purpose and to be me unapologetically. If one person listened, I did my job. If I transformed 1 persons life, I did my job. I gave myself permission to release the exceptions I had on my self and I decided to simply “BE”. Now I have created my own path. I created a unconventional process that is helping women to achieve 3–5 inches of healthy hair growth in 6 months and I have over 500 testimonies. Not only that, I have shared it with other hair stylist who are a vital part of my current team today and they are extremely successful in making a difference in customers lives as well as their own personal live because of it. I feel its safe to say I am leaving trail.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
It would definitely without one doubt be Tony Robbins. I have never had a mentor before. I feel like Ive always stayed ahead of the learning curve and because of this, I have found it hard to connect with anyone that has inspired me. Ones with potential seem to be dominant in one area and extremely weak in the others. Tony Robbins is an all around kind of guy. Self grounded, business genius and super fun. I admire the impact he has made on the world and I have visually seen myself making a similar impact even prior to discovering him. I invested in his Business Mastery workshop in Las Vegas and it changed my life forever. In a huge room of 2500 people, I was called on to discuss an interesting topic of investing in one self in front of everyone. It was actually a topic I really needed someone to get on me about and he was able to achieve that in 5 minutes. He has helped me in so many ways and it must be something about him because there is absolutely no one with a big name I could think of that I would want to have breakfast or lunch with
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.