Curlture

This month Curlture celebrates its seventh anniversary as one of the UK’s leading natural hair influencers. Here creators Jay-Ann Lopez and Trina Charles reveal how they stay relevant.

What did you hope to achieve when you started Curlture?

Trina: In 2014 we were both embarking on natural hair journeys and a lot of the information and bloggers we came across were from overseas, particularly America. The conversations about hair were dominated by them - and when they recommended products it was impossible to find them in the UK at that time. So, by developing Curlture, we wanted to give the UK a voice and build a community that amplified that.

Curlture
Hair: (Left) Jay-Ann is wearing X-pression Ultra Braid Pre-Stretched (Right) Trina is wearing The Feme Collection Ponytail in Kink

What have been the high points of your career?

Jay: For me personally our book, Kink, was definitely a high point. It was a combination of poetry and photography to empower black women and shed light on topics like texture discrimination and colourism. When the book came out, we’d only been influencers for two years and we could see how being lighter-skinned and having a certain curl pattern bought more brand deals. And that just didn’t sit right with us. A lot of women have abandoned the natural hair scene because they felt undervalued. Kink was our way of putting something out there that wasn’t online. It’s sort of a keepsake for when you need a confidence boost.

T: One thing that sticks in my mind is being featured on BET UK. It was such a moment! We had a segment in between shows where we were talking about ourselves, celebrating natural hair and doing bite-sized tutorials. For a UK platform this was quite revolutionary and it really helped to grow our audience.

How do you continue to evolve your style?

J: Some of our inspiration comes from ourselves; we’re naturally quite creative. We definitely look to platforms like Instagram – I really like Culture Icon TV’s content – and Pinterest. It’s about moving with the times and staying flexible with what we do. The introduction of TikTok and Reels has encouraged us to create content in new formats, so we’re learning and changing all the time.

T: Magazine editorial and celebrities play a role too by showing how to take everyday trends a step further. I’m always looking at front covers and red carpet looks and thinking about I can put my own stamp on them. Our image is bold and edgy - stepping out of our comfort zone is the norm for us and gives us our individual style.

Curlture

What hair or beauty tips did you pick up from your mum?

T: (Laughs) ‘Leave your hair alone.’ Now I’ve taken her advice it’s actually flourishing.

J: Mine was ‘Don’t pick your chin.’ My family is quite hairy so facial hair is quite normal. My mum told me not to pick at the hair because it leaves dark marks, which is true.

How do you decide which brands you'll work with?

J: We look at a few things like who the brand is serving, what the product is, how involved are they in the black community and so on. If we’re the first black creators they’re working with we think about how the content we make is going to speak to our audience.

T: We’ve always been creators of substance and our community knows us well. If a brand didn’t align with what we’re about, our audience would tell us. That’s why what we put our name to projects that reflect us and the women who stand behind us.

Influencers have received a bad rap for visiting exotic destinations during the pandemic. Where do you stand on that?

J: I can understand why there’s resentment towards influencers. Often people think what they do isn’t anything special or challenging. As an influencer I would argue it’s about being responsible. For those who are serious about their craft, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. It’s their job to promote and market, but the success lies in being inspirational and relatable. Partying in a nightclub with no mask on while there are people who have lost loved ones to Covid is straight up insensitive.

What would go in you influencer starter kit?

T: Figure out your reasons. Why are you doing this? What do you want to achieve? It’s no secret that some just want free stuff, but they don’t tend to last long in the game.

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