This month we caught up the with the lovely Mary aka The Curly Closet, to find out about her life a natural hair blogger.
You’ve been blogging for 5/6 years after you came across the natural hair community on social media – How do you think the blogging community has changed and developed since you started?
There has been a lot more growth in the UK scene overall, because when I first started blogging most of the people I came across were from the US. There are now a lot more bloggers overall on the natural scene but there’s particularly a lot more in the UK now than there used to be. There has definitely been a growth in the number of events overall. Natural hair is becoming more conversational, I spot people with natural hair more now than I did 4/5 years ago, more so in secondary schools; young girls are wearing their puffs or another natural style. I find that when I’m out and about, someone will stop me and ask about my hair and we’ll get into a long conversation.
What do you think about the content that’s out there now? How have you seen that develop?
There tends to be a lot of content based on trends more so now than before. I feel like blogging is more of an industry now than 4/5 years ago, when people started realising that you can actually attain sponsorships through it. I do think that trends have a lot to do with the content that’s made. There tends to be a lot of repetition, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand I think “oh Lord here we go, another one”, but on the other hand I saw a video from a well known blogger using an unusual blow-dryer on her hair, her hair came out really nice and it made me wonder how that would work on my hair, even though I’ve seen 4/5 other bloggers blogs about the same tool after I saw her one. I suppose it’s nice to see the effects of a tool on different hair types, however there’s always the situation where bloggers are simply jumping on the bandwagon.
Do you think there is room for more bloggers or do you think it’s quite condensed now?
I think there’s always room for more but I think now that there are a lot more bloggers and people charting their hair journeys it really now depends on what you as a blogger want out of it. If you are simply looking to share your hair journey, go ahead and do it. There should be a distinction between someone who simply wants to share their hair journey and someone who wants to blog in order for it to become a business. If you want to make it a business you need to identify what’s different about you, otherwise it can become a bit boring uploading the same material as every other blogger. But then again, I do understand that when an up and coming blogger is trying to establish themselves they do need to consider what people would most likely want to watch. Its about finding the right balance.
In 2016, you made the step to blog full-time. What have you found most enjoyable and what have you found challenging?
Enjoyable – It’s fun to just be able to let your creativity come out. The funny thing is when I started I didn’t think I would have enough ideas or content to sustain this, but just over 1 year later I still have a whole list of ideas! The nice thing about YouTube and social media in general is that when I upload content I get feedback from viewers asking how certain products work on my hair, or if I use products they want to see how my hair turns out in a couple of weeks time. This gives me ideas to create follow up videos and other content as a result.
Challenges – There’s a whole ‘business’ side to blogging which people may not recognise or appreciate unless they’re doing it full time. Once you make blogging a business you have to start thinking about profits and expenses, and that’s something that some people don’t realise. For example, if you want an advanced editing software you either pay a lump sum of £200 or more, or you pay a monthly subscription. You need to pay for a good camera if you want to produce really good shots. If you want good lighting you also need to pay for that. These are all expenses to be considered.
Another challenge is when we get contacted by large, well established companies requesting that we create a video reviewing their products for free. As much as it’s lovely and appreciated that they can reach out to us, a lot of time and general expense goes into producing a 5 minute video and it can be disheartening when I inform them of how much I charge for videos and they are unable to pay due to ‘budget constraints’. It’s about being fair. That being said there are indeed large businesses out there who do appreciate that bloggers are indeed trying to run a business and are quite fair in return.
Yet another challenge I find is that some of the largest hair companies are US based and are quite reluctant to work with people who aren’t in the US, which I personally think is short sighted. They are very US focused and if they do operate within UK or in Europe they either have a PR company or a very small team to operate there. Consequently that team is allocated a pretty small budget to work with, which limits how bloggers will work with them. That makes it a challenge.
Your hair has been through a texturised and coloured journey as well as the big chop, did you ever feel nervous or apprehensive about showing your hair when it was either damaged or wasn’t at its best?
I was a little apprehensive however when I first started I simply wanted to share my journey and it made absolutely no sense to me to only share the ‘good’ parts of that journey. Yes I was a little apprehensive especially because there are very unkind people out there who can leave horrible comments – but I didn’t let it stop me.
Can you share one of your top hair tips with us?
For me deep conditioning always saves the day; finding a deep conditioner that your hair really loves always works well for your hair. Find one that gives your hair a lot of moisture and keeps your hair strong; I never skip deep conditioning.
Do you ever feel under pressure to always look perfect?
Yes – sometimes I do. But I make it a point to sometimes create video content with me looking like my everyday self. I want people to see that as much as I love blogging nobody’s life looks like their ‘Instagram feed’ all the time. I want people to see that some days you do have your headscarf on and getting on with your life. When you wake up in the morning your scarf is half off your head, there’s dribble running down your chin with stuff in the corner of your eye! It’s reality – everybody wakes up like that! It’s nice to dress up and show the best of yourself but it’s also important to be realistic.
On your blog you have a post called ‘November Blues’, which can be linked somewhat to the condition SAD that some people suffer from when the seasons change. Do you think there’s any link between hair care and mental health?
I think there can be but I guess it depends on your approach; I think that if it’s a part of loving and accepting yourself the way you are and taking that time to really care for yourself then I would say yes. But then there are a lot of people who spend a lot of money on hair care products and their mental health isn’t in a great place, so it all depends on your approach. I think as bloggers it’s a good thing for us to use our platforms to talk about mental health and I have seen a few bloggers using their platform to do just that, which I think is really good. I do also think that more can still be done because as bloggers we are in a unique position to influence people.
Quite a few of the bloggers I have met are actually quite shy people and actually quite introverted and I think that some of us have also had issues with things like social anxiety, so there are things we can always talk about more. I do think as bloggers we also need to be mindful of being proactive in terms of making sure all our time is not spent in our room in front of a camera. I could easily get into the habbit of spending days just filming, editing, blogging and then come to the end of the day and realise I haven’t spoken to or seen anyone, so I think it’s important to be mindful of that and make the effort to connect with people face to face.
Being a content creator, blogger & vlogger you’ve been able to travel, work with various brands, attend events, meet different people in the natural hair community etc. What would you like to see from brands, companies, products and hair events this year?
I would really like to see more events that bring people together internationally; for example there’s an event called the ‘Natural Hair academy’ that happens in Paris once a year. I think it’s been running for about 3 years and what I like about it is that you have people from France, people from the US and also people from the UK that attend. I haven’t attended yet but from what I’ve heard it sounds like such a great concept as they have presentations in both French and English so it’s inclusive. I really like to idea of bringing people together from different countries.
Since February is seen by some as the love month, can you share with us one of the most romantic things someone has done for you?
For one valentines day one of my ex-boyfriends who lived abroad sent me a photo of a bunch of flowers; initially I thought he had just gone on the internet and found a picture of a bunch of flowers and sent it to me but then I realised it was an actual picture he had taken on his phone of a real bunch of flowers. When I asked him about it he told me he had walked about 5 blocks to find a florist who had red roses so that he could send me a picture of a bunch of flowers for valentines day because he couldn’t send them to me in person and I thought that was really sweet.
So, what can we expect to see from you this year?
Every year travel is always on the cards for me; I feel like I would like to give a more rounded view to my content which I’ve already started to do, so covering hair, beauty, lifestyle and a few other things. I definitely want to be a bit more daring with some of the things I do to my hair this year. I think after doing the big chop I gained a lot more confidence to be courageous with my hair; I see my hair more as an accessory so I don’t mind trying different things because even if they go wrong I can just chop it off and start again. I will also be introducing some clothing that I’ve merchandised so I’m looking forward to that as well.
If someone wants to starts a blog, or become a content creator what advice would you give to them?
I would say firstly think about what your strengths are or what you’re most passionate about; most bloggers are on multiple platforms however there usually tends to be 1 or 2 platforms they prefer the most, for me that’s YouTube. You also have to think about your preferred method of creating content whether that is making videos or taking pictures or writing and then work on developing that area. Try not to spread yourself too thinly, think about one thing that you really like to do and also think about how you will balance that out with everything in your life, because it doesn’t appear to be that way but it can literally take over your life. Filming takes hours, editing takes hours and then you have to think about new content and how you want to present that, it really can take over your life.
Doing your research is also really important as well so find a few other bloggers/vloggers whose content you really love and then think about why you like their content and how you can shape your own platform based on the things you’re drawn to. You also have to think about what you can realistically emulate, for example there are ‘You Tubers’ I see who have beautiful light in their videos and fantastic content but you have to consider that some people are working as part of a team who actually help them to produce a lot of their content. Start slowly and be consistent on a platform you like and make sure you have a balance between what other people want to see and what makes you happy. Don’t loose yourself in looking at how many likes and views you’re getting focus on doing what you love.
You can follow The Curly Closet on the following social media platforms: