Dr. Kari Williams is a definite mover and shaker within the natural hair community – especially on the West Coast. In addition to having advanced degrees in Trichology (medical and cosmetic study of the hair and scalp), she is also the founder of two salons in the Los Angeles area.
Dr. Kari believes that it is imperative to share knowledge with others, but she also understands how our hair is an important part of our self-image and also impacts our self-esteem.
Our interview with Dr. Kari…
What do you do at Mahogany Hair Revolution?
I am the founder and owner of Mahogany Hair Revolution. I am also a natural hair care specialist and hair designer and Master Loctician
How large is your team?
There are 5 stylists on my team
How long have you been doing natural hair?
I have been styling natural hair for 12 years. I have been a licensed stylist for 6 years
What inspired you to do so?
I have been styling hair since I was a child. It is a natural gift and talent of mine. The specific interest in natural hair derived out of the example and motivation my mother provided me. She wore her hair natural my whole life and she always encouraged me to be proud of my hair and to wear it natural also.
Inside Salon Mahogany Revolution
What makes your salons stand out from others?
Mahogany Hair Revolution is distinguished from other salons for two primary reasons.
It is an all natural hair studio where there are no styles created using chemical straighteners
or extreme forms of heat (pressing combs, flat irons or curling irons).
Secondly, it is a Trichology clinic that serves the needs of women, men and children who are suffering with hair loss, hair thinning, scalp discomfort and hair shaft disorders. Our focus is not only on providing hair styling services but also ensuring that we are keeping our client’s hair healthy and promoting
healthy hair habits.
When and why did you decide to loc your hair?
I am wearing my second set of locs. My first set I started in college and wore them for a year and a half then cut them off. I consider my first set an experimental set. The decision to loc my hair was easy. My mother wore locs since I was in 2nd grade. She was a beautiful example for me so there was no hesitation or misunderstanding about the style. This second set of locs I’ve worn for 4 years.
Two Strand Twist Up Do by Stylist at Mahogany Hair Revolution
How do you think natural hair is received in your area, verses other parts of the country or world?
In Los Angeles, there are women who wear there hair natural but its not a concentrated population like on the East Coast in cities like New York and Washington DC. I work in Hollywood and the images that are prevalent are women with weaves and straight hair. So I am competing with those images and promoting a look that is contrary to what is popular in my area.
What type of suggestions do you have for healthy natural hair?
The best suggestion I will give is that healthy hair start from the inside. I promote healthy living. Your hair is a reflection of your health. Therefore, start with the basics of eating a balanced diet, supplementing the nutrients that you need, avoid bad sugar, alcohol and junk food habits, and drink plenty of water.
There are times when the African-American community makes complaints, and I cringe. I just do not agree and think people are being too sensitive. Our world is more about class, and wealth.
Most times, I can relate with the cries of injustice and share in the disappointment. Yes, there is still a lot of mis-educated prejudice people out there. I find myself having to explain my Blackness, and why I am different and it is just exhausting. I want to ask, Don’t you know any other Black people?
Saturday, at my hotel job, a man went up to an omelet chef and asked him “Why do African-Americans continue to serve ‘our people’?” What? Why? Is there a guide out there to dealing with insensitive people?
Then I am absolutely confused when I hear the opinions of women like Amy Holmes, Crystal White of Conservative Black Chick or even Stacy Dash. Or reading books like A New Earth that says feeling like a victim is in your mind.
Any way, I am at a place where I am all mixed up. I am not sure how racially sensitive I should be in 2012.
Then I saw this article For White Chicks in Afro Wigs by Linda Villrose. The article had my heart pumpin’… An afro wig, fried chicken and watermelon? Oh hell no.
But wait, Black women wear straight hair all the time?
Why can’t a white girl wear Kinnks? Black Face Lady, that’s why.
Okay, so I went straight to the source.
Michelle, a White woman has a blog called Before And Afro. From what I see, Michelle is working on being more racially sensitive, and has learned the sacredness and the importance of the Afro. I am glad she changed to a blonde Afro – it looks less buffoonery. I had to leave the site after reading prejudice comments from Black and White people.
Is it the Afro is no longer African-American? It is now American like jazz, hip hop or pizza despite its original roots?
Any way – the more I looked at her blog, more I understood. It is kind of weird… but from what I see Michelle is using an Afro to find herself.
Kind of the same way, we grow our natural hair to find ourselves.
Lady Kinnks: Congratulations on being prego!! I enjoy watching your channel chrisandtomikotalk2u. Not only are you an inspiration by just wearing your natural hair, your videos also portray positive Black marriage!
What inspired you and Chris start your channel?
Tomiko: We want to have our own network talk show and we wanted to build a following where we could showcase our loving and playful marriage. The videos have received a great response. We have so much fun shooting these videos and are still working towards having our own show.
Lady Kinnks: What part of motherhood are you most excited about?
Tomiko: I am most excited about the new way of loving another human being I’m about to experience. I have the great fortune of experiencing life-altering love in my marriage and from my friends and family. But I can’t wait to feel the love of a mother for her children. I hear it’s amazing and I’m really looking forward to it.
Lady Kinnks: When I was in high school, I posted your picture all over my myspace page. You were the first model I felt I could physically relate to, down to the hair type! Have you always been natural?
Tomiko: Thank you for the lovely compliment. As an adult, I have been natural for over 10 years. Though I did wear wigs and weaves for a portion of that time. Ever since my second Big Chop in February 2011, I’ve been proudly rocking my TWA and I absolutely love it!!!
Lady Kinnks: When you started your natural hair career, did you consciously decide to be natural instead of wearing more popular straight styles?
Tomiko: I was “forced” to wear my hair natural due to severe scalp damage and breakage from having worn relaxers for many years. I was not happy to have to wear my hair natural at the time. I wasn’t nearly as self-confident and self-defined as I am now and worried too much about how others would see me. Boy am I glad those days are over!
Lady Kinnks: Did your natural hair work to your advantage becoming Maybeline’s first African-American and longest spokesperson?
Tomiko: I wasn’t wearing my hair natural when Maybelline first signed me to an exclusive-contract. At the time, I was wearing a weave. It was during my time with them that I had to refrain from relaxing my hair and start wearing it natural. I was VERY concerned about how they would take that news, especially because I was contractually obligated to keep my appearance as it was when they hired me. But after explaining my scalp situation, they embraced my natural hair. From then on, I would alternate between wearing a weave and my own natural hair for my shoots with them. I was grateful to them for allowing me to do so.
Lady Kinnks: We love seeing you in the Cheerios and Gain commercials. Is it true that you are now focusing more on acting? Any new roles we should look for you in?
Tomiko: I recently shot a Nissan Altima commercial that is still airing and I am one of the leads in an upcoming romantic comedy called “Ex Free” that is slated to be in theaters in 2013.
Lady Kinnks: How do you feel your natural hair reflects your inner self?
Tomiko: My entire physical being, including my natural hair, is a reflection of who I am. I’ve worked hard to achieve the level of self-comfort and acceptance that I now have and I feel like all of who I am reflects that inner peace & joy.
Lady Kinnks: We’ve seen your BC, twist out and even teeny weeny afro (twa). What styles are you rocking now, and why?
Tomiko: I’m currently wearing my TWA. It’s my favorite hairstyle by far. One because it’s so easy to take care of and two, because I love how it looks on me. : )
Lady Kinnks: Anything else you’d like to add???
Tomiko: I’d like to invite your readers to keep up with and read my daily inspirational messages at: