Hi, I’m Esther Otomi, although I usually am called Esther ‘Tom. Proudly Nigerian from Delta State. I’m a professional photographer, a postgraduate student majoring in Media Studies and an evolving hair stylist.
What (or who) inspired you to go natural?
Actually, nobody. I’ve been big chopping my whole life so after my NYSC I decided to let the hair be. I had no idea what ‘going natural’ meant. 5 months had gone by when a friend of mine started questioning me about how I cared for it…clueless me was speechless. I surfed the net and I was like ‘oooooooh so that’s it?????!’
How did friends and family react to your decision to go natural?
Me changing hairstyles was never a new trend to my folks; from hair colouring to mohawks to pixie cuts and so on…they actually never thought I’d let my hair grow this long unprocessed.
You’re a great stylist! What inspires you? When did you start styling? Are you self-taught or formally trained?
Why thank you! My inspiration comes from boredom. it doesn’t matter if my protective style is just a day old, I picture a new hairstyle in my head, I get rid of my protective style and try it out. I learnt how to braid when I was 6. Mum used to get me lots of dummies. But major styling for me especially with natural hair started 2013. And yes I am self taught!
What has been the most memorable day on your journey as a stylist so far?
With every head of hair I’m favoured to touch, I cherish that moment. That in itself I consider memorable.
How do you see yourself using your gift in the near future?
Oh wow…I actually am planning to open a hair salon after studies. I’m not worried about patronage because I believe talent and hardwork places you on a pedestal. its a bling bling future trust me *wink*
Are you a less-is-more girl with your hair or do you go all out?
Oh do I!!! I’m not scared to experiment. I don’t limit myself. For every length I attain, I maximize its versatility. I’m a colour person so I love to go all out with colour. There are days when you’re in a mood for ‘less’ but I won’t say that defines me.
Shrinkage- do you fight it or embrace it?
“I hate you, I kill you, I burn your family to the ground!” – Me resisting shrinkage. I avoid it with every beat of my heart.
What’s your hair regimen like?
I wash in sections once in 3 weeks with my homemade shampoo (African black soap + honey + olive oil), condition with Alberto VO5 conditioner and detangle in the process, then slightly grease my scalp and seal my ends with Kuza Indian Hemp Hair Cream and put in a protective style. I spritz daily with my water + honey + oil combo. At night, I tie my hair with a satin scarf to bed after my scalp massage.
What’s your Go-to hair style?
Phewwww… do I have one? Honestly I don’t but I do love flat twists and on indecisive days I just roll it, tuck it, pin it.
What are your staple products?
Pure honey, Kuza Indian Hemp, Gelatin (homemade hair gel), Kids Organics Moisturizing/Detangling Hair lotion.
Hair product or step that no woman should ever skip?
Scalp massage is number one. I found out that when I massage my scalp consistently I can go weeks upon week without build-up, rescuing me from wash day and besides, it is soothing. Number two is sleeping with a satin scarf/bonnet/pillowcase. It is super important and instrumental in length retention.
The biggest mistake you see women make with their hair is?
Making ‘one million braids’ as a protective style…I mean, that’s a Destructive Style.
2 Absolute hair DON’Ts for you are?
Combing dry hair…especially with a rat tail comb. I can kill for that, and holding edges too tight. I can kill and drown the body for that.
If you had one hair regret, it would be…
…That I didn’t groom my kinks early enough 🙁
2 things your hair cannot do without?
Water and Bobby Pins!
Share your favourite styling tip/secret?
I don’t have hair secrets but a Tip…if you can’t find cream eye shadow for artificial hair colouring, mix regular eye shadow with your body cream (belee that!)
Greatest discovery in your hair journey that totally changed your hair game?
Being a product junkie doesn’t make your hair grow faster. Genes, Technique and Moisture does it.
To keep a protective style for up to one week… I need a therapist. It’s baddd!
Any words for a new natural or anyone thinking about going natural?
Dear new natural, Google is your friend.
Research is the key!
And we agree!!
Thank you so much Esther for being here today! (Let’s just imagine we had this interview in person, on TV, and I’m Dolapo Oni fabulous.)
If you’d like to share your hair story on the blog, just email us: firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will talk! Or if there’s someone you know, or would like to see featured, reach out to us too. Sharing these individual stories is very important to us, and by sharing yours, you are definitely encouraging someone else to love their kinks too!
Have a great weekend guys, and I hope to see you at Naturals in The City tomorrow, if you’re in Lagos. Details here. ^__^