Black BeauTEA Talk // Corporate Curls and Natural Hair in the Workplace

Black BeauTEA Talk is a monthly column especially for black women to find inspiration for hair and makeup hosted by one of the best in the industry, Brittney Taylor.

Hair, makeup, and photo by  What It Looks Like by Ash

Hair, makeup, and photo by What It Looks Like by Ash

Hey ladies, it's been a minute. Did ya miss me?! So I'm sitting here sippin' this hot tea that I'm so excited to tell y'all about! Today's tea is from a black-owned company called SoRen Tea; I ordered it on their website. Honestly, I usually go to the market and just grab a box of tea because it's just tea, right? But I decided to go online to find some black-owned tea companies to try, and this one caught my eye because it looked so luxe. The tea is a loose tea and comes in a black tin, which I know you already know because you've clicked the link to go support these sisters already. So I got the peach flavor; comment below and let me know which one you're gonna try or if you already knew about this company and I'm late as hell.

On to this other tea...

After my first column on natural hairstyles for brides (if you missed it check it out), a few ladies asked me to write about wearing your natural hair in the workplace. As you all know, I work for myself, so some days I don't even take my bonnet off—lol who gon' check me? So I started doing a little research and found some interesting stuff to say the least *side eye.* Of course I googled first, and using these search words, this is what popped up on my phone:

“Unprofessional Hairstyles”

“Professional Hairstyles”

So I know y'all see the problem here, so we aren't gonna get into the fuckery! Moving forward in my research, I started speaking to some sisters about their natural hair and work. Many of them expressed that when interviewing, they wear their hair pulled back or in a weave until securing the job. Others said that they didn't go natural until leaving their jobs altogether; I'm sure you all are feeling my frustration and hurt. I have heard these things briefly online, but speaking to women I have come to know as strong, proud black women, it really showed me how deep this issue is. It showed me just how much power this institution has over us and the way this power is abused, every second of every day! But chile we'd need a whole damn box of tea to dissect the clusterfuck that is the system, am I right?

So instead I spoke to a sister I know that is natural and works a corporate job for an interview. Check Asheley out below:

Brittney: When did you go natural?

Asheley: I went natural over 10 years ago.

Brittney: So you went into your current job natural?

Asheley: Yes, I was full fro when I entered, but I entered at entry level. I've always been natural as I've progressed in my career at my current location, but I've stuck with boring natural when I got into management. Boring natural means no odd colors or a fro with a headband and twists. I took a leap just getting braids and faux locs, but I usually wear them in a bun.

Brittney: What type of work do you do?

Asheley: I'm an Operations Manager for a call center.

Brittney: Have you ever had any issues with your natural hair while working there?

Asheley: I remember when I was at the supervisor level, and I decided to take a leap and dye my natural curls, that were in a tapered cut, royal blue. I got the look of disapproval with the "what are we going to do with the kids" head shake from my then-site director. Other than that, they haven't said anything regarding hair.

Brittney: It's good that you haven't had issues with your job; I've read about some pretty bad situations. Do you have any suggestions for other black women regarding natural hair in the workplace?

Asheley: Yes, as in all things, limitations are put on black women over crap like hair. Make your work undeniable. Just due to our skin color, we have to be better, and if you want to be in your own hair, that expectation goes up. I have to be even better than the one who prefers her hair straight and even nicer just due to the stigma. They can't refute I'm excellent and deserving of every promotion, and hair doesn't become part of the discussion. I did get a piece of feedback that only a natural would get: "Don't walk around twisting your hair. It looks like you aren't doing anything and don't know what to do next." It was more like, I love the feel of my curls so much that I can't keep my hands out of it.

Brittney: I definitely know the feeling of having to do more than others. I can imagine it's amplified for you. That's crazy they said that. How many other natural men or women work with you? That you know of?

Asheley: In leadership, I know of one other that wears her curls. Some others are natural, but they keep their hair straight

Hair, makeup, and photo by  What It Looks Like by Ash

Hair, makeup, and photo by What It Looks Like by Ash

Brittney: Okay, so not many at all, unfortunately. What are some products you'd recommend to our curly sisters?!

Asheley: If you are 4C like myself and need hydration, Qhemet Amla Heavy Cream is YESSS!!!! Other than that, keep your products simple. The fewer the products, the less you have to get out of your hair. I use As I Am Cowash, then a good leave-in, and then the heavy cream. Gel can be anything from ECO because all the natural gels leave my hair sticky, and that just attracts dirt.

Brittney: Thanks, Asheley, for helping me out on this. It's gonna be good for women to know that hell yes you can wear your natural hair to work!!

Asheley: You can—just realize that not everyone is for it and wypipo want to touch it. Actually, more blacks are against it than whites.

Brittney: Very interesting viewpoint, why do you say that?

Asheley: Blacks seem to think that we have to conform and put those expectations on others. They don't like it when people go against the "rules" that we have had for years, and it takes time for them to think differently. They think they are helping you when they deny you or tell you what you should do with your hair.

The reason why natural hair can be worn more is because the baby boomers are retiring out. They were the ones who set those rules, and now dress codes are getting more lax, and I can even wear a colored lipstick!

The only industry I would advise against pushing the rules until you learn the rules, is finance. We know who controls the money.

Brittney: Come on somebody!!! Now you just said a word my sister, so let's end this here. Thank you again!

Asheley’s bio: I am the Operations Manager for a sales program by day and a tired mom by night from southern Virginia. My passion for makeup didn’t kick in until I hit the ripe old age of 26 when I bought my first foundation from Lancôme, and it was all she wrote from there. I love wearing my natural hair, trying out independent companies, and learning new trends in makeup. I enjoy snapping my photos and trying to find the best one to feature while wishing I had only dropped my chin just a bit for that perfect shot.

Asheley can be found at:

Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook

Okay ladies, I hope you gained something from this month's column. Let me know your thoughts below. Check out all the plugs I dropped above, and remember that Corporate will deal with these curls, baby. Now that's TEA!

~Peace and light~

Meet the author Brittney Taylor: I am a freelance makeup artist located in Cameron, North Carolina. I have been working in this area for three years doing event makeup, as well as print and some runway. This year I will be working to build a bridal artistry business that will be fully mobile. I studied makeup artistry at makeup artist studios in Richmond, Virginia, and from there developed my aesthetic. I spend a lot of time studying past artists, as well as trends today. I believe that everyone is beautiful, and my job is to enhance that!