Hairlooms author Michele Tapp Roseman turned her natural hair journey into an empowering book that is helping black women everywhere embrace their natural beauty.
The black hair care market is drastically changing and more people are ditching relaxers.
As a result, sales “have dropped 18.6 percent from 2013-2015…and is projected to lose its spot as the second-largest in the Black haircare market – which also includes shampoo, conditioner and home hair color – to the smallest segment of the market by 2020” (Mintel).
Hairlooms features 32 personal stories from women that have learned to love their natural hair and beauty including the late Dr. Maya Angelou and actress Kim Coles.
Hairlooms cultivates a safe space for women to detangle their insecurities and address them. It’s a roundtable where food for the soul is served and powerful, life-changing dialogue occurs. Coil by coil, it encourages women to step out and embrace their natural beauty.
We caught up with Michele Tapp Roseman, author of Hairlooms, to discuss her natural hair journey, challenges that she faced while developing Hairlooms, self-care and the importance of sisterhood.
Have any personal experiences inspired you to write Hairlooms?
My personal experiences have inspired me to write Hairlooms: The Untangled Truth About Loving Your Natural Hair and Beauty. I recall being teased as a little girl for having dark skin; this made me feel awful and ugly.
While I knew that my skin tone was not popular, I was always praised for the length of my hair. For more than 25 years, I permed my hair and was addicted to having it straight and long at any cost. I overlooked the regular scalp burns and the soaring costs of routine perms.
This method of caring for my hair also gave me a “fix” for the feelings of ugliness that I harbored inside.
When I finally decided to Big Chop my hair, I quickly realized that the straight strands were gone. Interestingly enough, though, the insecurities about my physical beauty were still there. It was difficult, but I continued rocking my natural hair and have done so for the past 8 years.
During this time, my coils and curls have been the center of a lot of impromptu conversations with Black women from all walks of life. They, too, completely understood the struggles that I was facing and expressed their own as well.
I concluded that issues of hair and beauty were hot topics among Black women and worth discussing. Equally clear was the need for inner healing to take place within our circles so that we could truly esteem our natural hair and beauty.
While developing Hairlooms, were there any risks that you had to take and/or challenges that you’ve faced?
Pouring my private life into a book for others to read has been an emotional struggle. An equal challenge — from an entrepreneurial perspective — was getting a book published that included 32 high-profile contributors.
When I decided on the traditional publishing route, I didn’t know how long it would take to successfully write pitch letters to prospective literary agents and publishers. If someone had told me I would eventually have to successfully craft a near-40 page proposal to “sell” the idea, I may have kept Hairlooms in my head!
Once I conquered the literary publishing hurdles, I then had to contend with the prospect of convincing contributors to believe in the Hairlooms project. I can’t tell you how many, “no’s” I received.
Agents, managers, and staffers had no problem letting me know that I would not get within arm’s length of the thought leader of my interest.
With the help of God, an amazing attorney, and self-determination, I was granted the legal rights to personally interview 32 people in Hairlooms. Dr. Maya Angelou; legendary rapper MC Lyte; Hollywood actresses Nicole Ari Parker and Kim Coles; and hair and beauty brand moguls Lisa Price (Carol’s Daughter) and Jane Carter (Jane Carter Solution) are just a few Hairlooms’ contributors who have personally shared some aspect of Black women’s hair and beauty.
Did you have any “AHA moments” during the writing process (a moment of sudden insight or discovery)?
I started my career as a financial news reporter on Capitol Hill in the 80s. Since that time, I have had a number of writing and editorial positions. While I loved them all, none required as much of myself as the writing process for Hairlooms.
I recall sharing my near-completed manuscript with my attorney, who is also a writer, and seeking her opinion. I was so proud of what I had done; after all, it took almost 6 years to complete.
After taking some time to review my work, my attorney handed it back and said, “there’s no blood on the pages.” After I recovered from being a bit salty, I took a closer look at her remark and looked at my writing with fresh eyes.
I realized that in order for my writing to touch someone else’s soul, it must touch mine first. That, indeed, was the biggest “AHA moment” and most sobering revelation. Armed with this knowledge, I spent several months challenging myself to paint a picture with my pain with my words.
I knew I was done when, through my writing, I could clearly distinguish the beauty within painful segments of my life.
Writing financial or IT content doesn’t require an emotional pull. Hairlooms has dared me to go where I’d never been so that, hopefully, someone can go where they’ve always dreamed!
Are there any self-care habits that you’ve instilled to handle juggling a social life, family and entrepreneurship?
Self-care played a huge role in my ability to persevere during the 6 year writing process, which included my 32 personal interviews with contributors hailing from Australia to Alabama.
I often say when I speak to audiences that we must love ourselves from the inside out. This statement also relates to self-care. Our success hinges on our ability to care for ourselves from the inside out.
For me, I spend quiet time praying, meditating on Scriptures, and listening to worship music. This practice has been a life saver for years and given me great peace and a renewed perspective. I also have a *go to* spa spot.
When I feel myself on edge, I realize it’s time to be pampered with some spa services. What I love most about my spa spot is its peaceful atmosphere. Spiritual connections and body renewal keep me moving forward and help me achieve balance within my social, family, and professional spheres.
Does sisterhood play a part in women being able to “overcome the multi-layered challenge of embracing their natural hair and beauty”?
I often say, “Why go it alone, when you can go with a friend?”
I truly believe and teach others that healing is a team sport. So often, we allow pride and our image to hinder us from connecting with others who can help us navigate the challenges of loving our natural hair and beauty.
I have a dear “sister circle” that means the world to me. Our connection has spanned decades; my longest sister-friend has known me for 45 years! For others, our connection is at least 30 years strong.
These perennial partners know me inside and out; they’ve seen my flaws and know my private struggles; they cheer me on from a deep sense of knowing who I truly am. This sisterhood has taken years to develop but has been worth every minute.
Our mutual love for each other helps us to push each other to embrace the inner and outer beauty that God has given us. This bond ensures that we will all get to the top and be healthy once we arrive!
Hairlooms is available for purchase at multiple retailers including:
Feature written by Quan P. (Founder of BLACKAMAZING)