Black Blogger Month: Curly Nikki, The Hair Apparent

Women in search for advice on natural hair care need look no further than Nikki Walton's CurlyNikki.com

Nikki Walton, founder of CurlyNikki.com (Image: Dr. Eugene Walton II)

While European standards of beauty tend to dominate the scalps of many women of color, there are just as many who embrace their natural tresses. That’s where St. Louis native Nikki Walton comes in. Three years ago the licensed psychotherapist launched CurlyNikki.com, one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources for all things related to natural hair care and maintenance. Over the years, the site has built a loyal and massive fan base that includes millions of women who rely on Walton’s personal journey, advice and perspective.

It’s not just everyday women who have taken note of Curly Nikki as Walton has been featured on The Tyra Banks Show and its website, as well as national media outlets ranging from The New York Times, USA Today and Huffington Post to Ebony, Essence, and Black Hair Magazine. Expanding her brand even further, the 28-year-old hair guru signed a deal with Harper Collins to co-author a definitive natural hair care guide with Ernessa Carter that’s due out in early 2013. As part of Black Blogger Month, BlackEnterprise.com catches up with Curly Nikki to untangle the secrets of her digital success.

I started blogging because…

Natural hair became a passion. I was spending more time researching hair than I was studying for grad school. I also became intrigued by the reaction I received from family and friends when I first stopped straightening. It was hard enough mentally transitioning on my own, let alone dealing with the hang ups of those around me.

I realized that for most newly natural women, the only safe haven and source of support was online. I frequented forums such as NaturallyCurly.  I loved the friendly atmosphere and thorough info. The women there quickly embraced me, taught me lots, and soon came to anticipate and respect my advice and reviews. I was asked by many to start a blog, and after initial reservations, I took the plunge.  As they say, “If you build it, they will come.” Three years later, what started off as a $10 investment in a hobby, has blossomed into a profitable career.

CurlyNikki.com is unique because…

It’s an online hair therapy session. It goes beyond natural hair care information and takes the next step to help women examine the psychology behind what most assume is just a physical transition.  It acts as a platform for community members and my fellow bloggers to share their thoughts and opinions. We discuss everything from Kanye West to baby poop. My daughter, Gia, aka Boogie, has become a mainstay on the site as well. No other natural hair blog has Boogie! [Laughs].

Some of the more popular features have been the frequent giveaways, the free mobile app, the Curly Caregivers Book Scholarship and my musings. My voice is unique and I share a lot about my life—and not just the good. Also, I’ve conducted approximately 80 interviews with what I call natural hair celebrities. The reality is that nowhere else on the internet, in a magazine, or on TV, can you get that many real sisters sharing their real hair stories. With that said, it also happens to be the most comprehensive source for natural hair care information on the Web.

People trust my brand because…

Although there is ad space for sale, my endorsement is not.  I give real, unbiased reviews of products and hair practices. I’ve been doing this for three years and my readers have come to expect a certain quality of content and service and I make it my top priority to provide just that.  Also, the brand is not some anonymous drone. It’s me—my face, my experiences, my voice.

The biggest misconception about Black hair is it’s…

“…tougher than Nigerian hair.” [That’s] a line made famous by Young Money philosopher [Lil Wayne]. I love Wayne as much as the next person but in this case, nothing could be further from the truth. People believe that due to its appearance, our hair is rough, hard and invincible. Sadly, this belief leads some to handle their hair in a less than gentle manner, which leads to yet another common misconception… that our hair doesn’t grow. Yes, our natural hair can be stingy when it comes to showing length, but it does grow .5 inches a month just like everybody else. All it takes is TLC and a little patience.

The one hairstyle I regretted was…

Wash and gos. For me, they caused excessive tangling and single strand knots. Today, I opt for stretched styles like twist-n-curls and twist-outs.

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  • Ashley

    If her brand/company was solely built on her own, instead of being purchased by the 2 white owners of naturally curly, she’d get my applause. If you’re going to tell the story of your success, tell it all.

    • Elle

      You are a perfect example of what is wrong with the black community. Her brand/company was purchased because of the value she built solely on her own. That’s Business 101; you should look that up. How that even relates to her accomplishments is completely beyond me. Stop tearing down other successful people because you are angry with your lack of success. If you put as much energy into creating opportunities for yourself instead of attempting to destroy others, you’d be somewhere in life; not just a hater commenting on a website. If we stood together, we’d be further as a race.

      Do you care that Beyonce or Jay-Z, or actually 99% of successful people in the music industry have white business partners? Do they get your applause? Read a book, develop a skill, but please, stop hating for the sake of hating. You don’t even have a VALID point.

      • Angelica

        Well said Elle!!

      • Nita Rose

        That’s what I talking about! Showing we represent unity. Black is a combination of all other colors to create one unchanging, strong, recognizable color. This should be said for the culture the word is used to represent! In my opinion, due to other influences we have become known, if not renowned, for the crab effect on one another. Many a kudos to Ms. Nikki, and other ethnic women making their money on their time and doing what they love as well as bringing more and more black women to the table of naturality.(Yes I know this is not a word, yet) Praise God for your gifts. And God Bless you for your openness- she has helped more women then reflected

    • Wanda

      If you read the article it did say she was pushed by naturally curly to do this but that is not the point because the site is about her regardless of who is backing her. It her name, her ideas, work and energy that goes into it. Give credit where credit is due.

    • Nononsense57

      What a dumb comment, and a prime example of the “crabs in a barrel” mentality.  Nikki doesn’t need your applause, she has tons of followers and supporters who’ll do it instead.  

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  • NaturalSunshine

    CN I LOVE your blog. It’s such an inspiration, and I value all the time and effort that you put into it. Thank you for providing such an AWESOME resource for Natural Hair Women.

  • Bridget

    @Ashley – Nikki Walton created her brand/company all on her own. As she became more popular and gained a bigger fan base she has partnered with others (like any other successful venture). With that said, congratulations Nikki you are an inspiration to many and I wish you continued success.

  • Siobhan

    So Ashley are you saying that you know or were perhaps one of the Black owners of some company that approached her about a business deal? It seems like to me you are upset about something that has nothing to do with this. She states in her article that she wasn’t able to do it alone, “Enter into a mutually beneficial partnership…..” Get over it.

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      I get pleasure from, cause I discovered exactly what I was having a look for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  • Nicole

    @Ashley why can’t you just say something positive and be happy for her accomplishment?

    CurlyNikki I really enjoy your sight and you inspire me, you go girl!

  • Georgia

    You can’t be mad because she built something that a larger company wanted to invest in. That’s what business is and I think she deserves all the kudos she gets. It’s just like Facebook and Youtube, even Huffington Post. The whole point is to merge if it makes sense for your bottom line. Keep shining Nikki!

  • Angelica

    YAAAY Nikki!! So proud of your success and coming from someone who knows you personally I know the hard work and effort you put into YOUR blog and personally watched it grow from day ONE!! Naturally Curly took you under their wing because they saw something unique and special about you that comes from the drive that you naturally possess in addition to the hard work that you put into your business…You deserve every bit of what you have earned and you get a standing ovation from one black woman to another! I am so proud of you and you have been an inspiration to me on so many levels that I cannot express! Do YOUR thing and stay blessed!!

  • Marcia

    I love CurlyNikki! I have been reading her blog since the beginning and it is still my favorite. Her twist and curl tutorial is still the foundation of my hair routine. It really shouldn’t matter if the women from Naturally Curly are white, Naturally Curly is a great resource and Nikki makes a great contribution to their site.

  • mothereartha

    this is awesome nikki! keep up the hard work. I REMEMBER the naturally curly days and i was definitely one of your encouragers to branch out. nc is definitely a warm awesome community with lots of naturalistas with great tips but you definitely had your own distinct “voice” and a way with words that the rest of us didn’t quite have. And most importantly the guts to step out and do it! i’m sure lots of us have been told to do and try things we are good at but how many of us actually step and do it? I KNOW i am a scaredy cat :) so keep on keep on and let the haters make you stronger! and maybe one day some of us scaredy cats will step out too!

    all the best to you and the fam,

  • Sandy

    This was a good article. I congratulate Curlynikki because it does take a lot of hard work and dedication to do well with a blog or website presence.

    For the author: There are many other websites which were online that answered the questions pertaining to tighter coily hair. I don’t want to use this forum to start mentioning names, as I don’t think it is appropriate.

    But I wish the best for Nikki and I hope the author will do due diligence and highlight some of other entrepreneurs of color who found the same problem Nikki encountered when she came online: a lack of information about coily hair.

    They too started, before Nikki discovered Naturally Curly, websites which addressed shall we say “napptural hair”.

    Again I thank Nikki for bringing up how consistently many sites did not cover napptural hair and also like to add that before Nikki other website owners discovered the same and they also had to research for themselves.

    As new products and new techniques come to market there will never, IMO, be one place which will be able to keep up with every new development for the global community. That is why we have something called Niches.

    Thank you Curly Nikki and all the other unsung sheroes for your contributions for the Niche of Napps.

  • Sky

    I’m so proud of you Nikki. I don’t know where my hair would be without you. If I had not stumbled on your blog, my hair would be still damaged. Thank you so much!

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  • Brenda

    We need to be celebrating the success of this hard-working woman, not attempting to point out so-called “flaws”…with that being said, CONGRATS Nikki!! I truly enjoy your blog, and have learned so much about my own natural hair! Thank you for allowing your audience into not only your hair life, but your personal life as well. You are an inspiration to ALL women!

  • Sabrina

    Congratulations Nikki!! I’m so proud of you, I read your blog everyday and I definitely appreciate you making the sacrifice and opening your life and experiences with us your audience. Being blogger of the month is another accomplishment to add to you belt. Shout to your Co Blogger Ms. Boogie lol!

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  • Tamera

    I also love Nikki’s blog, its pretty much got everything I need for natural hair,plus a little beauty, fashion and self esteem content. She also does mad giveaways that are easy to enter and has the best variety of guest bloggers. It also has natural celeb interviews which you really can’t find anywhere else and her writing style is very compelling. I loved the Raven Symone, Chaka Khan, Kim Wayans, Wanda Sykes, and Melissa Harris-Perry interviews the most. I mean, the girl can tell a story and her twitter feed is hilarious. I’m not sure what the sneak dissing above is for? I’m confused, the blog provides free info, interviews, a mobile phone ap and giveaways, that is all. What’s to be upset about? I defiantly follow a lot of other natural hair blogs too (many of which I hear about through CN), but I think most would agree that her’s is the most comprehensive and successful blog ever created on the subject. Good job Nikki, I can’t wait for the book!

  • leandra

    Yay! I’m so excited Curly Nikki is featured here and so extremely proud of her. Your hard work has paid off and will continue to do so. You’re such an inspiration. :) Congratulations, lady!

    This is definitely my go-to resource for hair and the one I always direct others to.

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