Jenell B. Stewart has made a brand for herself. She is the founder of KinkyCurlyCoilyMe, a website that brings together bloggers of all hair types. In addition to the site, the married mother of two shared her hair journey and veganism to her 176,000 YouTube followers.
Due to appear at the Natural Health and Hair Summit Oct. 1, 31-year-old Stewart opened up to Atlanta Black Star about her beginnings and wellness. She also described why it’s important for Black women to embrace their natural hair and support Black-owned beauty brands.
The award-winning KinkyCurlyCoilyMe began humbly in 2010. Stewart simply wanted to chronicle her natural hair journey.
“At the time, there was nobody I knew who was natural,” she told ABS. “I found comfort in my husband – who was my fiance at the time. And as much as he was excited for me and my new journey, he was really not that interested in my hair.”
Instead, Stewart decided to create a blog to write about what she learned and the new hair styles she tried.
“I decided I’m gonna actually create a niche, centralized theme around my natural hair and share my journey,” she said. “I’ll feature women who are also natural who are inspiring me and supporting me so that they can do the same for other people.”
In addition to the website, Stewart launched a YouTube channel to post updates on her natural hair journey, including length checks, regimen and tutorials.
The beauty guru, who has a tight hair texture, revealed why it’s important for Black women to embrace their natural hair from a social and health perspective.
“When you think about how we associate our beauty and how we then [are] brainwashed and taught that this is what our hair is supposed to look like, I think we’ve moved from a place where we had to make those choices in order to survive,” she said.
“Decades ago, I could not assimilate into society and I could not move further. Now, we don’t have those same issues. So for a woman to embrace her natural hair is taking back the way their hair is supposed to be.”
Part of embracing her own natural hair was realizing the link to healthy eating. It led her to cut meat from her diet completely.
“The decision to go vegan was definitely a personal decision,” she said. “It’s something that I’ve actually been transitioning toward for about eight years. The original goal was to get my family vegan and I was able to do that. You can tell [my children] are excited. They feel pride in being vegan.”
Stewart explained she began documenting her meal prep to motivate viewers to eat wholesomely.
Still, she acknowledged the hurdles of excluding animal products from meals.
“I was hoping to inspire someone to be healthy. I know veganism is a very challenging lifestyle,” she said. “Because they way that our environment is, the places that we go eat are not very vegan-friendly. If it was so much easier to go vegan, I think more people would just be doing it.”
To cope, Stewart and her husband employ what she calls “veganizing.” Essentially, it means looking at the store items that are already vegan – like Lorna Doone shortbread cookies – instead of focusing on what consumers believe they can’t eat.
“Veganism isn’t about that. It’s actually about abundance. So what I wanted to do is show people how to eat healthier. I’ve never tried to show people ‘you need to be vegan.’ But what I try to show them is, ‘you can eat vegan.’ ”
In a few weeks, Stewart will present those ideas in an appearance at the Natural Health and Hair Summit in Atlanta. The New York resident told ABS she wants to give Black women information on promoting healthy hair from the inside out.
“I want to definitely encourage the women that are there to [use] healthy hair practices,” she told ABS. “Typically, I’ll be speaking about hair regimen, product selection and styling and detangling. And then, of course, I will go into healthy living and healthy eating and how that directly relates to the benefit you reap with your hair growth and your hair health.”
The summit focuses on teaching attendees about techniques to change their lifestyle in order to improve their hair and health, according to the website. Attendees can use the promo code “ABS” to get a $5 discount on general admission and VIP tickets.
“It fully aligns with my hair regimen because as I navigate my world as a Black woman with two children, I always begin: How do we live longer, how can we do the things we want to do without having to be in a hospital and get sick?”
Another subject she’s concerned about is the wellness of Black beauty brands. Asian owners dominate the beauty supply store landscape. Because of that, Stewart wanted to support Black-owned companies regardless of where customers buy them.
“For me as a Black woman, I want to be able to support other Black people because that is my community,” Stewart said. “I hear the struggle of small, Black-owned retailers who were in the beauty space. They can’t compete with the beauty supply stores. So for me, it’s important to support my community so that my community can grow.”
To see Jenell discuss her journey and other phenomenal speakers, get your tickets at www.nhmsummit.com.