Afro Alice has taken much delight in interviewing Clara Luce Lafond, a natural hair passionate and one of the founder of Bèltèt grenn.
1- Tell me about yourself and Bèltèt Grenn.
I am Clara Luce Lafond a founding member of BELTET GRENN. Which is a joint effort taken on by women with natural hair in order to celebrate our curly manes and encourage other women to do so, especially Haitian women. Our goal is to encourage all women to love their natural hair regardless of ethnicity, culture or hair texture. We specifically target Haitian women because there seems to be a lack of support for these wonderful women who decide to wear their natural hair. BELTET GRENN should be a place where they feel at home and comfortable to share freely, whether they are newly naturals, women who have been natural for a long time or even women who are struggling with loving their hair, because yes! that also happens and there’s nothing wrong with that because going natural doesn’t happen the same way for everyone. For some it is very easy and for others it’s a very hard process. We offer support to all.
2- When and why did you return natural?
It was in the summer of 2006, I had just graduated high school. Of course I was rocking a perm like most girls my age. But over the summer I was growing tired of my perm, I didn’t like the long hours at the salon, the process of getting a touch up, then roller sets, sitting under that oh so very hot drier, then trimming (if necessary) and finally getting them styled with a blow drier. I remember one particular day, I had just washed my hair and I was sitting in front of the TV with my brother and I suddenly asked him : what if I stopped getting a perm? He had no idea what to say. Not because he thought not getting a perm was a bad decision, simply because he didn’t know what else I could do. So I looked at him with a confused face as well and said: But what would I do with my natural hair? And the idea went away and I carried on caring for my relaxed hair. But in that same summer, my wonderful sister in law, who is also a founding member of BELTET GRENN, came to town. And I immediately noticed her new growth. When I asked her about it, she said she had been growing them out for 5 months already and told me she’d been researching on alternatives online. She had decided to go natural. We spent an afternoon talking about that nonstop! I was hooked! This is what I was searching for this whole time. She said we should do it together; I didn’t hesitate one second and said yes! Absolutely!
So I started transitioning. I washed and braided my hair and rocked braid outs as my transitioning method. I, not being a very patient person, especially at the time, didn’t transition very long. August 2nd 2006, I big chopped. If I remember accurately I believe she as well big chopped later in that same month.
3-How did people surrounding you react to the change?
The first person who saw me when I big chopped that day was a neighborhood friend of mine. He stopped by just to say hi and saw my very teeny weeny afro. He had the sweetest grin ever and said: you should have done this a long time ago! And then the rest of my family saw me and they all loved it. When I went out and started seeing people I knew, a couple of them didn’t recognize me at first glance others were simply in shock. Most loved my new look while a few others asked if I had gone mad.
4-Who were your supporters? Your hairspirations?
My sister in law was my biggest supporter and inspiration. We embarked on the natural journey together. We had joys, frustrations, trials and made errors together. We shared every bit of information we gathered to help each other. And there are of course the endless pictures of beautiful women with natural hair online. I spent countless hours browsing those pictures and blogs. I did anything and everything to keep me focused on why I had made this decision. And I never regretted it. Not once.
5- Are you working on any project related to natural hair?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. I’m currently launching BELTET GRENN as a natural hair salon where I offer my services as a natural hairstylist and consultant. If anyone is interested in contacting me for my services, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6- What is your hair regimen?
I wash my hair every week, sometimes every 2 weeks. I no longer use shampoo personally unless it’s a sulfate free one, because sulfates irritate my scalp. I wash with a mixture of apple cider vinegar or baking soda along with my favorite conditioners, whether VO5, Tressemme naturals, Suave etc… Then I apply a leave in conditioner and seal my hair with either oil or butter such as Shea butter. I use some gel depending on the style I plan to wear.
7- What do you like most about being natural?
I love everything about it. I love how it kinks, curls, coils, waves in every possible direction. I love that it needs to be cared for with lots of love and patience. I love that water is its best friend, that everything I need to care for it can be found in either my kitchen or garden. I love how big and fluffy it can be. How it has a mind of its own, how there are days no matter what I try it will simply not cooperate because it wants to do its own thing. I love all the different shapes I can mold it into. I love how it has affected everything about me, from my personality, to my personal style, to my personal beliefs and so on. I even love all the strange looks I get from strangers when they see me with my natural hair. I love everything my natural hair has brought into my life. Had anyone told me a few years ago changing my hair would mean so much I would have told them they’re crazy, because it’s “just hair”. Today I stand corrected, going natural has meant everything to me and I can’t picture myself any other way.
8- A message to the existing, upcoming and potential natural hair community?
To the natural hair community I would like to say, thank you. Thank you for existing, for making yourselves heard, for empowering women like myself to take this journey. To committing to your choice everyday in spite of a society that does not yet fully accept us as we are. To the women who are already natural and to those who are contemplating the decision, I say congratulations and welcome. This is probably the best personal decision you will ever make for yourself. In a perfect world there would be no need for such a community, because every woman would naturally wear her hair as nature intended. But in the world we live in now such communities must exist and thrive today, in order to ensure a better tomorrow, where we will teach our daughters that their hair is not a “mistake” nor is it “hard to manage” that it is simply Unique and Special just as they are therefore we have Unique and Special ways to care for it. Embrace and care for you kinks, coils, curls and waves, I promise they do embrace back.