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(L-R) Yardley Messeroux & Natasha Gaspard

Describe “Make Me a Naturalista” for In Her Shoes readers who may not be familiar:

Yardley & Natasha: Make Me A Naturalista is a web series that helps women who are transitioning or have styling issues by bringing them to a professional for an ultimate makeover. We also listen to their stories and give them some insight on issues that relate to hair from a personal standpoint. Our guests also get amazing products from companies that are dedicated to the natural hair community. It’s really been a blast so far.

In Her Shoes: What makes your web series unique? Why do you think your voices are important in the natural hair space?

Yardley & Natasha: Make Me A Naturalista is more than a makeover series. MMAN takes a deeper look into the common reasons why women are struggling. We connect with our guests and we make sure that the issues they’re going through are addressed so our audience can walk away with something really valuable. Natasha and I have both been natural for 13 years and have learned so much throughout our journey that we want to share with others. But what’s as, if not more important is, the audience gets solid information and nifty tips by natural hair professionals that we’ve built relationships with over the years as participants in the natural hair community.

Yardley Messeroux

In Her Shoes: Many women criticize the natural hair movement saying that it creates yet another divide in our community. Thoughts?

Yardley: In a way it does—in a way it doesn’t. It does on a small scale because some women in the natural hair community shun those with relaxers, which contributes to that said divide. However, I feel that those women do not represent the community as a whole. I believe that there are many naturals out there that are open and warm to everyone no matter how they wear their hair. It’s a people thing—and when looking at this issue, I think we need to look at each person, ie. Blogger, vlogger, enthusiast, individually.

Women in the natural hair community have a common interest that may not—most likely does not—appeal to women who are fans of getting their hair relaxed. So that fact may be misconstrued as a divide from a negative standpoint but it’s no divide at all; or at least it shouldn’t be. As a whole, I think the natural hair community is what it is—an interest group; just like any other interest group. If someone doesn’t have that same interest, it’s okay—they don’t have to participate. They’re still our sisters nonetheless.

Natasha: I don’t think the movement should create a divide at all. It’s actually something that should bring us closer together. Our show is centered on making women feel included not excluded. There are those that can turn a positive experience into a negative, but that is with anything. We prefer to focus on the positive change that we can achieve with the show.

In Her Shoes: What is a day like in your shoes?

Yardley: Since I have a 9-to-5, a website (TheCoilReview.com), and now a new web series, my day is a busy one—especially when we’re doing some heavy preparation for a video shoot. Every day is different, but I start off with a prayer and scripture because that’s the only thing that keeps my life together and moving in the right direction. Then there’s planning casting calls, executing promotional strategies, organizing special event features such as red carpet interviews, and meeting with Natasha to select future guests, salons, stylists and potential sponsors—the list goes on. For the most part, all of this happens when I come home from work which is when my day really begins. Hey, when you have a passion, you find the time to pursue it with no excuses. Then you guessed it, I close out the day with a prayer and scripture.

Natasha: A day in my shoes is hectic but most of the time I’m sitting down…lol. I’m a producer/editor by day so after producing episodes for my day job, I’m right back in front of the computer producing and editing videos for MMAN and for my personal website, Mane Moves TV!

Natasha Gaspard

In Her Shoes: What was the biggest mistake you made transitioning from relaxed to natural and how did you solve it?

Natasha: I transitioned with braids in 1999 before the online explosion of ‘transitioning’ to natural was as popular as it is today. I was so ready to big chop and get on with wearing my hair natural…no regrets!

Yardley: My biggest mistake was getting my hair corn-rowed often at a hair braiding shop that was less than hygienic most of the time. I used to love the way my hair came out, and no one could do it like them. But if I knew then what I know now about proper and healthy hair care, I wouldn’t have gone there at all. Other than that, I have to say, there were no big mistakes really. I pretty much loved my transitioning process. There were trials and errors, but the experience was great and most definitely worth it!

In Her Shoes: If you could make any celebrity or public figure a naturalista, who would it be?

Yardley: Oh, this one’s a no-brainer. First Lady Michelle Obama. She’s the ultimate public figure that has a major influence on women around the world no matter what ethnic or cultural background. If she were to become a naturalista, I think that would change the beauty game entirely, from the neighborhood, to the boardroom, to the red carpet and beyond.

Natasha: I would also love to see our first lady Michelle Obama as a naturalista! Do you know what kind of effect that would have on our young girls who are bombarded with images of women with blonde weaves and wigs?

Anu Prestonia, Anu Essentials & Khamit Kinks and Yardley Messeroux (Make Me a Naturalista Episode 1)

In Her Shoes: What have you figured out about your hair that you wish you knew a decade ago?

Yardley: I wish I knew that blow drying my hair too often would loosen my texture pattern and train my hair to stay loose even when I didn’t want it to be. That was an ‘ah ha’ moment for me. You live and you learn!

Natasha: I learned that my hair is very coily and that I need regular trims to keep the tangles at bay!

(L-R) Natasha Gaspard & Yardley Messeroux

In Her Shoes: What do you have up your sleeves for “Make Me a Naturalista” in 2013?

Yardley & Natasha: We’re working on hitting the road to reach naturals in other states; getting product companies—new and old favorites—into the fold; you may even see some popular gurus in the community share their priceless insight with our viewers. 2013 will be a big year for MMAN, and we’re fired up and ready to go!

Ready to get your dose of Make Me A Naturalista? Click here to check out the latest episode!

As a New York City storyteller, filmmaker, digital content creator, and PR strategist, Renae Bluitt created "In Her Shoes" to empower and enlighten women committed to realizing their dreams.

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