Friday, July 30, 2010

A Photograph Is Memory In The Raw. - Carrie Latet | Week In Photos

Happy Friday everyone! It's been a while since I have shared "week-in-photos" with you, so here they are!
Dinner at Yamashiro's last night! My hair was a mess, I twisted it with a butter-based product, because I wanted more of a fluffier look. Instead I got an un-defined mess. Ah well.
Pics snapped earlier in the week from my test shoot with Lo!
I think she's still sore from squeezing into that tiny space!
I picked up these high-waist shorts last night after dinner from American Apparel. They have the cutest zippers along the side, and I loved the fit. The light coral color is what drew me in.

I also got this pink petticoat, and blue long-sleeve lace bodysuit [pardon the black bra].

I am fascinated with the buildings downtown! I make a trip down almost every weekend just to shoot!
The buildings have so much character!
I love snapping pics of worn, weathered buildings with fire escapes!
I decided to climb up one and get a better view.  
While snapping pics of buildings, I ran into Lo [what are the odds]. No kidding. She was Downtown pulling clothes for a client. 

 Later on that day I picked up some seed beads for my jewelry line. 
Here I am a few days later at the Bilal concert

A couple of days ago, I had a late breakfast at my new favorite cafe; Crave. I ordered the usual...Strawberry Crepe's...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Be Huetiful Steamer Review

 My hair after the steam treatment!
This past Tuesday I received a hair steamer courtesy of Huetiful, and boy did it come right on time! I actually have a large steamer that I HARDLY use because it is just too cumbersome, and I just don't feel like pulling it out of the closet, assembling the thing, putting it back etc. - So needless to say, I was happy when this tabletop model came my way.

Product: Huetiful Steamer - Shipping is FREE!
Price: $114.95
Facial Attachment: $9.95

 steamer arrived carefully packaged!

 Here are the product claims:
The Huetiful Steamer is specifically designed for the unique needs of curly and wavy hair, restoring moisture 5x better than deep conditioners alone, opening up the cuticles of your hair to allow any conditioner you choose to penetrate better and work more effectively, bathing your hair with warm ozone enriched mist to replenish moisture lost from chemical treatments, and reducing breakage and split ends caused by dry hair.
Does this product live up to it's claims? 
Most definitely! My hair felt like butter after 10 minutes under the steamer. Detangling was much easier, and because of that, it cut my styling time in half.

Who can benefit from regular Steam Treatments?
Everyone! It doesn't matter if you are relaxed, natural, or transitioning. I definitely recommend this to anyone with highly-textured hair. Naturals will love this because it keeps hair soft, and eases detangling woes. Transitioner's will love this because it helps keep the new-growth soft, healthy, and manageable which is important when working with two different textures. Women that relax will also love this product because it works to keep issues with lack of moisture due to chemical processing under control.

Why I love it?
It's easy to put together, compact, and works just as well as my large hair steamer w/o all the fuss. This means I can enjoy steam treatments weekly, and even when I travel!

Setup is a breeze, as there are only 3 components you need to connect. The fourth component, pictured on the far left, is a facial steamer attachment!

To use connect the "wing-shaped" attachment to the base of the steamer...

slide the hood attachment onto the "wing-shaped attachment" until secure...

connect the nozzle from the "wing-attachment" to the hood attachment

 What I used:
I used a mixture of Honey + Olive Oil [1/4 cup Honey + 3 tablespoons Olive Oil], and I applied it to clean, wet hair. I also added a bit of Tea Tree, & Lemon Essential Oils to my water for added therapeutic benefits [I purchased them from Whole Foods].

To Use:
Apply your favorite hair conditioner, and sit under the steamer for up to 20 minutes!

Add water to the top of the component, filling until you reach the "max line" on the measuring cup included

Use the stopper, to cover the hole. 

Close the lid on the top of the compartment! Plug in, and in two minutes your steamer is ready for use!

Creating The Blueprint For Your Dynamic Future!

 I went to one of my favorite cafe's for Crepe's and a self assessment! Crave Cafe on Ventura Blvd is open 24 hours, and provides free Wifi!

Good Morning Dream Chasers! 

Tell me; What is your divine blueprint? What were you put on this earth to do? What comes naturally to you? What is the one thing you feel you must accomplish before you leave this earth?

Now tell me; What work have you done today towards building the foundation of your future? Are you satisfied with the level of effort thus far?

Every four months, I do a self evaluation to determine how well I have stayed true to my vision. I also take the time re-evaluate priorities, re-visit my purpose, and if needed re-work my blueprint. The keys to your future are in part determined by your ability to make a clear road-map, your ability to execute, and how efficient you are when it comes to executing your goals. I used to think that all movement was forward movement, until I realized one day I was just running around in circles.

I've spent the better part of 10 years trying to figure out my life guys, learn from my mistakes and implement some of these tips today!
Lets start with the basics:
For these exercises you will need to grab a sheet of paper, and go to a quiet, or comfortable inviting space.  
To help find your purpose, answer these questions:
1. What are you most passionate about?

2. What activities do you find the most joy in?

3. What is the one thing you feel you couldn't live without doing?

4. Who are your inspirations, and why?

5. What skills are people constantly complimenting you on?

6. What goals in your life are the most meaningful?

7. What do you want to be remembered for?
8. What comes exceptionally easy for you?

Once you have answered these questions, try to find the "common denominators". Do you see any patterns/similarities? Is there a recurring theme? These patterns/similarities are an indicator of your purpose in life. If you are still having issues; try to focus your quest on uncovering your raw, natural abilities, things that come innate to you.

Set your goals using the S.M.A.R.T method:
S: Stands for specific; you must be as specific as possible when writing down your list of goals. Focus on why you want to do it, how you want to do it, and when you want to do it.

M: Stands for measurable; you need to find a way to keep track of your goals so that you are able to make any necessary changes to your plans along the way. There needs to be "mini-goals" built in your main goal so that you are able to note milestones, and progress.

A: Stands for attainable; make sure the goal set is truly important to you; whenever a goal is important to you, you remain motivated, and you are able to think of workarounds to bypass potential problems.

R: Stands for realistic; make sure your goals are within reach. However don't confuse setting realistic goals with lowering your expectations. Setting realistic goals helps fuel the momentum and keep the excitement going as you move through your list. Make sure you have all the tools/skills/resources available to achieve your goals, as you are more likely to work hard to achieve them.

T: Stands for time based; make sure to set specific dates for completion of your goals, if specific time frames aren't set, you may feel like you can start at any time.

Once you have figured out your purpose, and written down your goals; it's time to practice the BE - DO - HAVE Paradigm. Are you are a Human Doing or a Human Being?

Simply put, you need to BE in harmony first. That is your state of being. I always say that acting in love manifests an abundance of blessings.

Once you've mastered the art of "being" you need to actually DO some work prior to HAVING the true fulfillment you desire!

Human Doings = constantly in a state of "doing/action" which leads to never being satisfied or fulfilled. 
Human Beings = learn to let their state of "being" govern their actions. Being isn't about forcing results, being IS about letting things evolve organically. When you learn to BE, you will notice that you will act in harmony with your true spirit vs being fueled by the need to see "results".

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tips to Having a Successful Transition - Part 1

To seamlessly blend your two different textures, opt for a flexi rod set like the model above. Not only does rod-setting help blend the textures well, but you also cut down on manipulating the hair.  

Ease Detangling Woes & Save Your Hair
Detangling at any point in your hair journey can cause breakage, & splits; but you must take extreme care while transitioning as the line of demarcation is extremely fragile. You can make your own "detangling serum" in a snap out of herbs that can easily be found in your local health food store, or online at places like

Here's my favorite mix:
1 tablespoon Marshmallow Root
1 tablespoon Irish Moss
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Add herbs to boiling water, and stir frequently until the consistency is that of a light gel. Once mixture has reached the desired consistency, strain mixture through cheesecloth, or a fine sieve. Add olive oil to serum, pour into a spray bottle, and use immediately.

How do you use this? Section clean, damp hair into four quadrants, adding the serum to each quadrant. Detangle each section thoroughly, and either braid/twist to keep each section neat, then rinse. 

Why this works? Irish Moss is rich in trace minerals which is very beneficial for your hair. Also, Marshmallow Root, & Irish Moss both release a mucilaginous substance that has abundance of minerals and proteins, and the mucilage that is released offers an incredible amount of "slip".


Protein is one of the key components when it comes to reducing breakage during your transition. Hair that lacks protein is exceptionally weak, and susceptible to breakage; especially around the line of demarcation. Your hair is comprised of mostly what is known as Keratin. Each time you chemically process your hair [relaxers, color treatments etc], it weakens the keratin protein structure, so regular protein treatments are recommend to temporarily strengthen the hair. How often you do protein treatments is determined by assessing the condition of your hair, an assessment is necessary as too much protein can cause breakage as well.
I also want to point out that thermal straightening, improper blow-drying techniques, and excessive use of heat can also contribute to a weakened protein structure. 

How to assess if your hair is in need of a protein treatment? Is your hair "mushy", or "limp" when wet, does your hair "stretch" a lot when combed? Chances are you need a protein treatment.

What type of protein treatment should I use? For those that are weary of hard core protein treatments like Aphogee, there are always other options. One of my favorite treatments is a 2+1 by Sebastian. It's two parts moisture, to one part protein, and the result is silky, soft, healthy, manageable hair. This product works so well, a deep conditioning treatment is not necessary.

Another favorite of mine is Dudley's Hair Rebuilder, this is a little heavier in the protein department, but also imparts an incredible amount of moisture. This was also a go-to product for me because it corrects issues with elasticity, porosity, lack of protein, and lack of moisture. - This is the perfect product for transitioner's, as most tend to have issues with elasticity, porosity, moisture, and protein deficiencies.

You can find both products at most professional beauty supply stores.

Moisture Retention
I have already talked about the effects of chemical treatments in relation to the porosity of your hair. This time I want to touch on other products that can also temporarily "fill the gaps" along the hair shaft to ensure moisture retention.

Cellophane: Cellophane's can also temporarily deposit proteins that bind to the hair shaft; what this does is fills the gaps along the shaft to ensure that moisture loss is kept to a minimum. Not only can cellophane's help temporarily correct porosity issues, but they also help impart an incredible amount of shine as well.
Jazzings, Adore, & Sebastian Colorshine's are all cellophane's that I have used with great results.

You can find Jazzing at most Sally's beauty supply stores, and you can find Adore & Sebastian at most professional beauty supply stores. 

Henna Treatments: Can also work to temporarily correct porosity in the same way that cellophane's work. If you have a relaxer it is highly recommended that you use Body Art Quality Henna, as Henna that isn't BAQ is purported to have chemicals in it that can cause an adverse reaction when applied to relaxed hair.

One of the most reputable vendors I can recommend for BAQ Henna is

Moisturizing Products
Once you have corrected issues with porosity, it's time to feed your folicles with products to keep it soft, and moisturized. I tend to like products with added herbs, and essential oils, here are a few of my favorites:

Amla & Olive Heavy Cream - Qhemet Biologics: This is probably one of the BEST moisturizing products I have used to date, and highly popular amongst transitioner's and naturals respectively. It contains a few of my favorite ingredients like Amla, Aloe, Olive Oil, and Brahmi!

Leave In Conditioner + Water Combo - Take your favorite light leave-in, dilute with a little distilled water, and add it to a spray bottle. For a more softeness, opt for rose water or spring water in lieu of distilled. Rosewater can be found in most Indian Grocery stores in the cooking isle for about $3/32oz

Seal In The Moisture!
You can use any oil to seal in the moisture from your daily moisturizing treatments. To seal in the moisture apply a light layer of oil to your hair. Oil molecules are a lot larger than the tiny spaces along your hair shaft, so they cannot be absorbed; instead oil acts as a barrier to lock the moisture molecules in. Beware that a build-up of oils can also lock moisture out, so it is imperative that you remove product build-up regularly. Any easy non-abrasive way would be to use Apple Cider Vinegar as a final rinse, this is used by many as a gentle clarifier.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Test Shots + Answers to Your Photography Questions


I am finally working on getting my portfolio together, which means I have been doing a lot of test shoots as of late. I shot these photos of Lo last weekend, and I am really digging the mass amount of greenery. She is wearing one of my vintage 50s pin-up bathing suits I scored at an estate sale for under $2, a vintage hat I picked up one day while thrifting, and some random African beads used as as necklaces.

I shoot with a Nikon D60. If you are interested in that model, know that it has now been replaced with a newer model: Nikon D5000 

The Nikon D5000 will run about $600 [comes w/18-55 lens] - HOWEVER; if you can find a vendor that carries Refurbished camera's, you can get a Nikon D60 [with the 18-55 lens] for about $200-$250 - Whenever you are purchasing a refurb, always source from a reputable vendor. Samy's Camera is one of my favorites 

As far as lenses are concerned, I love to shoot with prime lenses [lenses that don't have zoom capability] because I find that they are much clearer. Here are some of my favorites!

Nikon 50mm 1.8 [$124.95]- This is hands down one of my favorite lenses to use for food photography, and portraiture shots. It's perfect for low-light conditions, and produces photos that are crystal clear. 
One note about this lens is that it will NOT auto-focus on the following Nikon models: D40, D40x, D60 and D5000, which means you will need to focus manually. 

Big Bucks? You can get the Nikon 50mm 1.4 [$439.95] instead, which has the capability to auto-focus on all Nikon DSLR models. This is also much faster in comparison to the 1.8 model which can be crucial if you are shooting a moving subject. The creamy bokeh [out of focus/blurred distorted area] that this model produces is also a selling point.

Nikon 85mm 1.8 [$432.97]- One of my favorite lenses to use for in-studio shoots, as well as close range shots on location. The clarity that this lens produces is unbelievable, and the bokeh [out of focus/blurred distorted area] is nice as well if you're in to that kind of thing.

I also love to visit photographer's websites for inspiration; here are some of my favorites at the moment: - Met this photographer at the Bilal concert, and I was hooked on his work after seeing one photo.

Kwesi Abbensetts - I absolutely love the grittiness of his work! I have been a fan for some time now!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pix From The Concert!

Here are some pics from the concert this past Friday! If you've never experienced Bilal live, I recommend you add it to your bucket list; you won't be disappointed.

 Whilst there, I spotted some folks w/dope style

I loved their necklaces; the gentlemen on the right is the designer behind the Los Angeles based jewelry line Browne & Co. Limited quantities are available @Fred Segal in L.A

 Later on that night, we decided to go to Kiss N Grind to hear Vikter Duplaix spin!

We laughed, and danced the night away!

Necklaces: DIY
Belt: Thrifted
Clutch: Thrifted
Shorts: Thrifted
Jewelry: Forever 21

Airtight's Revenge: One on One w/Bilal

Photo Courtesy of: The Top Shelf Company

I got a chance to catch up with the Philly-bred enigma who they call Bilal, on the steps of The California Plaza this past Friday. To my surprise, our 45 minute interview felt more like a conversation catching up with a good friend versus what you would expect from a such an accomplished, innovative artist. We talked about love, label entanglements, J-Dilla, and of course his highly anticipated album which drops September 14th, titled Airtight's Revenge.

Nikole: Do you think growing up in Philly helped shape your sound? And if so, what were some of your early musical influences? 
Bilal: Definitely. I grew up in a dual family; my mom was a single parent and very much into church, so she had me singing gospel at an early age. As far as my pops, he was this big jazz cat, and his best friend owned a lot of jazz clubs. When I would visit my pops, he would take me with him to the jazz clubs, and let me sit in the coatroom. As early as I could remember I would say, "man I want to have my own band, I want to play in a club, it's gonna be dope".

Nikole: What was the inspiration behind Airtight's Revenge? 
Bilal: This album came about at a time when I was doing a lot of personal music. - Initially it started off as me doing music for myself, then it turned into an album. I just wanted to make music about topics that was on everybody's minds, that wasn't necessarily about love. Although there are a lot of love tunes on this album, I just wanted to talk about whatever came to mind. A lot of my major influences like Bob Marley, and Curtis Mayfield would do that; they would just talk about a lot of different stuff.

During the time I was making these tunes, I would have a lot of questions on my mind, and I would just use the music to answer them. I talk about a lot of different things, one of them is confusion of religion; like my moms is Christian, and my pops is Muslim, so I grew up with a lot of questions [laughs]. 

Nikole: Wow, the mix of religions is definitely a different dynamic. Would you say that now you are Spiritual more so than Religious?
Bilal: Yeah, definitely.

Nikole: How do you feel you have changed from 1st Born Second, to this album?
Bilal: I would say that it is more so of a progression, more than saying I totally changed. I'm still soulful, but I have more elements to me now. I have rock elements, blues elements, along with soul and jazz.

Nikole: You worked with a lot of heavy hitters on your debut album, how did that come about?
Bilal: That was crazy man, I just put a list together in my head of all the people I wanted to work with, and I didn't know I was going to work with them all on the same record. It kind of rings true, like whenever I go to that special place inside myself and say, "this is what I want", I don't know if it's God or what, but eventually it comes true.

Nikole: So what do you want right now?
Bilal: I don't know, I couldn't tell you. That's how it works I think...[laughs]

Nikole: How was it working with J-Dilla, do you feel you learned a lot from him?
Bilal: Hell yeah! How could you not! J had this way he would approach the music that made it look so f**king easy you thought you could do it. You would think, "damn this sh*t 'aint hard"! I remember one day we were chillin', and he was walking around and talking to us while he was picking out records, and in 10 minutes, he had the beat to Reminisce. The baseline to Reminisce was like three different records. J's house looked like a library he had so many records, it was like he had a million records and he knew them all.  J had it in him; he was just so fluid, he wasn't just a chopper, he could also play instruments, he was a real musician. When I found out that his pops was a musician cat who played on a lot of albums, I was like, "oh I get it, that's why he's so effortless".

Nikole: Where does Bilal go mentally when it is time to create an album?
Bilal: I like to go chill in my moms basement, but every song comes in a different kind of way. I kind of try to steer away from formulas, because when I stay away from the formula, it feels like I am discovering something new every time.

Nikole: What was the inspiration behind the song "Soul Sista"?
Bilal: Maybe I was thinking about my girlfriend at the time. It really kinda came about like a freestyle, then I worked with James Mtume on the writing, and he really helped me bring out the lyrics. I got to work with a lot of cats that taught me hot to carve songs out.

Nikole: I read in a recent interview that you dislike the term "Neo-Soul"; what genre would you put yourself in? 
Bilal: Yeah I do. I hate the term Neo-Soul. I don't like genres; that's my whole concept, I want to make music that is totally genre-less. I want to confuse the computer when I make my music [laughs].

Nikole: I know Love For Sale [slated to be Bilal's sophmore album] was bootlegged, however you got a lot of gigs from that. How do you feel about that entire situation in hindsight? 
Bilal: I did get a lot gigs off that, it was a Catch 22. But really, I was mad as hell because I put a lot of work and arguments into that album. I was really arguing heavy with my label, like doing crazy stunts and sh*t, you know what I mean? Then for it to get bootlegged, it was f**ked up.

Nikole: What was going on between you and the label?
Bilal: I was really trying to get out of writing a bunch of tracks and sh*t. I was like, "I wanna write songs man", I just wanted to sit down at a piano, make a tune, and then get some producers to  come in, and help me make a track from the song I wrote. My label at the time was finally like, "'aight, we'll give you one week at Electric Lady Studios". When we finally completed the record, and pressed play for the label, they were like, "this sh*t is wack, this sounds like some dark, bluesy, muddy, weird sh*t". I was like, "no this sh*t is hot". After that I took it to another music exec and after he listened to it he was like, "oh you're not really singing, it doesn't sound like you can sing all that well". I just lost my mind after that, and the next thing you know it was bootlegged, and I was like f**k it, I'm not even doing music anymore. I went on strike. - Then people were like, "naw somebody put that sh*t online, and a lot of people liked that sh*t".

Then it really rang true to me that from now on, I'm just gonna do sh*t from my heart, I'm not gonna listen to mutherf**kers anymore. If I really feel something and go with my heart, and with my gut, people like it.

Photo courtesy of: Michael Britton Photography

Nikole: What happened to the locs? Why did you cut them?
Bilal: I was watching Maury Povich one day, and a commercial came on, and I just chopped that sh*t off [laughs].

Nikole: [laughs] So there was no rhyme or reason behind it?
Bilal: I had dreads in high school, and I always knew it was for some stylistic sh*t anyway, it wasn't for no deep sh*t.  I grew locs because I saw this cat on the train, and he had some nice locs, and I was like, "he's pimpin' that's nice"! So it wasn't anything when I cut them, I just did it.

Nikole: What's in your iPod right now?
Bilal: I been listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin, and then the obvious soul sh*t everybody expects me to listen to [laughs], you know like Prince, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, all that good stuff. But lately I have been listening to a lot of other stuff like Frank Zappa and Howlin' Wolf, just stuff like that.

Nikole: Good stuff. Do you watch TV, or are you anti-television?
Bilal: I go through phases, but I watch a lot of TV on mute, TV is so funny when you watch it on mute. You can see the funniest sh*t, you can literally see all of the bloopers when it's on mute [laughs]. If you watch 106 & Park on mute, you'll be like, "oh noo such & such looks mad uncomfortable" [laughs].

Nikole: Do you still watch Maury Povich [laughs]?
Bilal: Hell Yeah! That sh*t is VERY funny on mute!

Nikole: But every show is a paternity test! 
Bilal: Yeah, but it's hilarious! [laughs]

Nikole: I know you recently launched your own column with Madame Noire about Love & Relationships, tell me how you feel about the state of "black relationships" today? Also, what's your opinion on the topic of black men dating outside their race?
Bilal: I think we should just all love each other. Relationships as a whole are f**ked up because people want to stay young forever now, it's like as soon as you can't get hard anymore, it's time to go [laughs].

Nikole: So do you feel that in this day and age it is still possible to find someone to grow old with?
Bilal: Sure it is. You just have to know what you got when you got it, a lot of people take things for granted.

Nikole: What is the definition of love to you?
Bilal: I can't describe it. That's like asking what's God? - I mean I think it's just about being mature, and being there for somebody. I'm only 30, so I'm still figuring it out.

Nikole: Have you been in love?
Bilal: Yeah I have been in love. But it's so delicate and strange, that a lot of times love is not based on your concept of it, but how it's projected on to the person that you love.

Nikole: Finish this sentence; In 10 years, Bilal will be..?
Bilal: In ten years Bilal will be; making more music, yeah...making more music.

Nikole: So the album Airtight's Revenge is dropping September 14th, what kind of things can we expect to hear?
Bilal:  A nice mix of a lot of different sounds and genres, I'm talking about a lot of different things. It's epic. A lot of stories, some of them have good endings, some of them have f**ked up endings, but that's life.

Nikole: Did you put a lot of your personal experiences into this album? 
Bilal: Yeah, I'll take some sh*t that happened to me, and flip it how I wanted it to go. Or I'll also people watch and listen to other people's sh*t that they go through, and write a song about it; but I'll change it so they aren't like, "why'd you write a song about me"? [laughs] I wrote songs about my kids, I wrote songs about the trickle effect of money, there's a lot of personal sh*t in my music.

Nikole: Ok so last question; if you had to leave just one message to the world, what would it be? 
Bilal: Let's all view each other from the present, lets see each other at face value, and not based on stereotypes.

Nikole: Do you feel that you have been judged based on stereotypes? Is part of that message you wanting a clean slate? 
Bilal: Yeah. Hell yeah. As a musician, if you are successful at one thing, they expect you to be able to do it over, and over again. But if everyone would experience my stuff for the first time, they would be open to what it actually is, and not what their mind is telling them it should be.
A big thank you to Bilal, his publicist Myleik [of Art of Facts PR], Michael of Michael Britton Photography, and the entire staff of Grand Performances for accommodating me. It was an experience I will never forget!
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