First things first, introduce yourself...
Hi! My name is Davina and I go by 'the London Curls.' Professionally, I am a secondary school teacher from London and through meeting so many young women with hair just like myself, I decided to create a blog giving hair guidance (as I surely needed it when I was growing up...) Aside from hair and beauty, I have a real passion for civil rights issues and race relations. I've spent the last two years teaching in Dubai, which meant putting my blog on hold. However, since leaving Dubai I think it's about time I get back into all things curly!
The London Curls? Where did you get the name from and why did you start blogging?
So originally, I set the blog up with my friend Gloria, and we spent days brainstorming ideas for a catchy name. Somehow we came up with the name 'The London Curls' and it just stuck. Even though it's just me now, I still say 'Hello beautiful people, it's Davina from the London Curls' which is probably a little weird when I am the only London Curl, haha, but it appears I'm a creature of habit!
Like I said before, the blog was originally created to give guidance to fellow curlies, as well as mum's that have no idea as to what to do with their child's hair; my mum is English and she really struggled with mine, so I really wanted to create a safe space for people to see how to look after thick curly hair without feeling awkward for asking questions.
Over the years, I've had the chance to share my mixed race journey and share people's experiences of colorism. I'm looking forward to diving back into more topics like this over the next few months.
I believe that behind every natural there’s a story, so what’s yours?
I have most definitely NOT always been natural, and to be honest, my hair was an absolute STATE for most of my childhood. My father is Nigerian, and my hair definitely sways more to the Nigerian side than my mum's straight hair.
I grew up with my mum and grandparents, and they were lost when it came to doing my hair. When my local hair salon in Walthamstow closed down, my mum was at a loss for what to do and where to take me as she has cerebral palsy, so walking around to find a salon wasn't really an option; this was before the days of google and the yellow pages wasn't that helpful, so she gave up! From the age of 7-10 my hair was completely matted.. .not a little tangled, but literally a solid bramble. When my grandmother finally found a salon that would detangle the mess, she took me, and after 4 hours of detangling - yes it was THAT bad - my hair was free, and the obvious next move was the relax my 'unruly' hair.
From that point on, I did my hair myself and it remained relaxed until I was 16. In the 6 weeks I would let my hair grow before retouching my relaxer, I would love seeing my curls grow, and I longed to see my natural hair. I was also obsessed with reading the back of hair product bottles and black hair magazines whenever I went to the salon, so I just took the plunge and started transitioning throughout college. When I finally cut my relaxed hair off aged 17 I was...underwhelmed. My curls didn't hang as much as I thought they would, and with my friends all having straight hair and weaves, I felt really uncomfortable showing off my TWA. It was only in university that I stopped with the weaves and started embracing my curls, and a year after university the London Curls was formed!
*TWA - teeny-weeny afro
Wow. To be honest I wasn't expecting that at all. Your hair has been through a lot, it's so nice to see you embracing it now. What would you say is your go to style?
Now here is where I feel like a bad natural... Dubai is HOT to say the least, and the air is so dry that having my hair out and natural would have been a disaster. I got used to wearing my hair in protective styles for the majority of the time I was there, and senegalese twists were my fave. My hair grew loads as I wasn't manipulating it for weeks at a time. Now I'm out of Dubai, I'd say a simple wash and go is my favourite. I try to stretch that out for at least a week by putting it up in an afro puff as soon as it gets too crazy!
I'm guessing you've lived in Dubai because you've already mentioned it a whole lot... tell us more, what were you doing out there?
I most certainly have! I taught out there for two years in an international school and it was an experience to say the least. I made the most amazing friend, and my students were lovely, but I doubt I'll ever go back.. at least, not to teach. I will definitely visit again, but anyone that tells you teaching in Dubai is more stress free is lying. It was very intense.
So is travelling something you love to do? What other adventures have you been on?
It really is! The amazing thing about living in Dubai is it was like a gateway to Asia and Africa! I went to Sri Lanka and saw wild elephants last year, but hands down the best trip I've been on was to Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania. The people are so lovely there and the wildlife is amazing. It definitely gave me more of a desire to explore Africa, and other than Nigeria (which I still have never visited!) my partner and I want to go to Kenya and South Africa in the near future!
You and me both, I find the more I travel the more I want to travel. On the subject of adventures, what would you say your biggest achievement has been to date?
My biggest achievement is finding the strength to move to a new country by myself. I grew up being a carer to my grandparents, so I never felt I could travel too far away as I always needed to be close at hand. I adored my grandparents, so when I lost them both in September and October of 2015, I was devastated; however, after months of mourning, I saw that this was the first chance I'd ever had to do something for myself and to live my own life. Leaving my family and friends was terrifying, but teaching students from all over the world in an international school was one of the best experiences I ever had, and I learnt so much about the world and myself.
Sometimes out of life biggest tragedies come huge blessings and i'm so glad you stepped out of your comfort zone, i'm so sure your grandparents would have been so proud! What would you say has been your biggest challenge in life?
My biggest challenge is being an emotions sponge! Honestly, I'm awful. If someone around me is feeling sad or low, I take on their problems and feelings way too easily. This combined with being a natural worrier means I can spend so many sleepless nights worrying that the people I care about are ok. This can be particularly challenging when working in a school - especially as I am often the teacher students talk to about their problems. I'd like to say I am working at being less caring, but as challenging as it is, I also feel it is one of my best qualities and makes me a better teacher.
If more of us dared to care about others, our world would be a much lovelier place, don't stop caring just make sure you surround yourself with people who care about you too! As crazy as it is were over half way through this year, do you have and goals for the rest of 2018?
Well, for the first time since I started teaching in 2013, I am not going to be working in September! I'm taking a year out, so I'm looking forward to diving back into the blogging and YouTube world! I can't wait to meet new people and collaborate with others, first one being Asikara! I'm in love with your range, so partnering with you in the near future is something I'm really excited about. Watch this space!
What’s one thing our readers would be surprised to hear about you?
This is so tough, as I honestly think I'm a bit of a weirdo so picking one odd thing about myself is pretty tricky, haha! I guess the one thing all my friends, colleagues and students know about me is my deep, intense love of food... and the danger everyone is in when I get hungry. I am the definition of hangry, so much so that my students would often bring me cakes and snacks when I worked in London and Dubai.
The more I get to know you, the more I'm realising we're going to be great friends! Hangry is something i'm also described as too, i'm the type of person to dance while eating because of sheer happiness! Before you go, can you please share with our readers one of your inspirational gems?
Remember that it is impossible for you to be liked by everyone in life, and that is OK! What is important is being your true, authentic self and loving yourself regardless of what others think of you. I learnt that a lot in Dubai, and I'm finally at a place where I couldn't care less what people who I don't count as my friends think of me! I feel like a weight is lifted and it feels great!
Thanks so much Davina for your interview, this is only the beginning so how can we keep in touch with you?
Well well well, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram as @thelondoncurls. I am also on YouTube (new videos coming soon), and my blog - which I have quite frankly neglected for over 2 years - is www.londoncurls.com . I will be reviving my blog and YouTube over the next few weeks, so I'm really excited for you to come on my journey with me!
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We'd love to hear from you, do you have any interesting Natural Hair stories or journeys that you'd like to share with us? Leave your comment below.