If you’re like me, you’ve been noticing Jill Scott’s triumphant return to the spotlight. First she appeared at the NAACP Image Awards and got everyone abuzz about her gorgeous glow and amazing new hairstyle.
Then she did it AGAIN at the premiere of Why Did I Get Married Too.
Jill’s new style has been turning heads, but the woman behind the style has remained mostly behind the scenes.
Bellas, meet Felicia Leatherwood — natural hair specialist, founder of the Loving Your Hair With Natural Care Workshop. She’s more than just a celebrity hairstylist, she’s an artist who takes natural hair seriously. And she wanted to exclusively share her story with Afrobella.com, YAY!
I caught up with Felicia on the phone as she headed to an important client appointment in Los Angeles, where she’s based. Felicia first explained that her relationship with Jill Scott isn’t a recent phenomenon. “I’ve worked with Jill – it’s been like 6 years. But it was off and on. Then I got a call in January when she did Chelsea Handler’s show – I did her fro but wasn’t able to get creative with it. But then I got a call a week or two later for the NAACP Awards, and we wanted to do something unique,” she explains.
Jill isn’t Felicia’s first celebrity client, but she has gotten the most attention from the media and from eager natural hair enthusiasts.
“I worked with Anthony Anderson when he wore his hair twisted up, I worked with Will Smith after Bagger Vance and before Ali. For a while he was wearing his hair in cornrows. But I can’t find any photos online from that time,” Felicia muses. “I’ve been working this whole time, but I never looked at what people had to say about my work until Jill. I can’t believe how many people are talking about her hair!”
For the NAACP Awards, Jill had a particular style idea. “She wanted something that looked classy, beautiful and diva-ish,” says Felicia. But for the more recent style for her movie premiere, Felicia was given more artistic leeway.
“The new one for Why Did I Get Married Too, I created a unique look for her, and she loved it!”
[Photo from FashionBombDaily.com]
Felicia was totally right! Jill looked stunning on the red carpet. And her hair was a work of art — that was Felicia’s intention.
“I’m 41 now and I really get to appreciate what I do. It’s no longer about how many clients I can have or money I can make. Now it’s about how much I appreciate my work. I get the opportunity to play. You can do anything to Jill Scott and she looks great. She’s my Barbie. I’m loving it!”
Hairstyling is no longer about mere commerce for Felicia, her techniques are her art. And she explains that like a true artist, she’d be unable to exactly replicate one of Jill’s intricate styles.
“Its like a painter – he may be able to paint a close replica, but he won’t be able to perfectly recapture the essence of what he did the first time around,” she explains. But I still got her to explain step by step how she created the style, and bellas – she recommends that you go to a professional to do this sort of thing!
“Its a combination of hairstyles — cornrows and two strand twists. If you’re good at cornrows, get one side perfect. Then the other side, you double strand twist with a little bit of Miss jessie’s, sit under the dryer and let it dry, then untwist a little and you’re good to go!”
When working on a look for Jill, Felicia considers all the angles. “I have my own way of doing the hair. I have lots of friends in the industry, we each have our own style. My signature style is soft and sexy. I need to work with the clothes. I need to see what she’s wearing . I like to match everything from the makeup to the clothes if possible. I get in touch with the stylist or the assistant to find out what color. And that determines the look,” she explains.
It is Felicia’s preference to do styles that can be used in a versatile manner to get the most wear out of a style.
“I like two in one hairdos. If I can get a hairstyle and flip it to get two or three different styles, even better!” She just did that with a trio of media appearances Jill made. “On CNN, Joy Behar and Jimmy Fallon, we flipped it three different ways. I used a flower in her hair to give her a Billie Holiday vibe on CNN. Like in the Golden video when I put the yellow flower. It takes the style somewhere different.”
After doing intricate styles, Felicia is especially careful with her client’s hair.
“I am really into caring for the hair – after the movie premiere I didn’t want the cornrows pulling. I did use some added hair in that style. We use it because it’s entertainment – people are looking for what’s new, what’s hot, and what will stand out on the red carpet. That’s the field we’re in, we’re entertainers. So on stage, on the TV…many of your favorite entertainers are wearing added hair.”
So in case you were wondering, there you go. Jill Scott wears her hair in a natural style, but being an entertainer she does sometimes use artificial hair to enhance her look.
I had to ask Felicia — which products are your favorites? And I was happy to hear that Jill Scott and I share a favorite.
“I use Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding or Buttercreme on Jill, and I use this is an amazing product, you have to try it – LRC concepts. It’s got no parabens, and it’s just incredible. I like Kinky Curly and Mixed Chicks on my mixed hair clients,” she says. On her site, she offers a detailed shopping list for natural hair’s specific needs.
Felicia has a certain approach to working with natural hair. It’s very nurturing and very loving. “I work a lot with afros and kinky curly hair. I do not use the word nappy – I think it’s derogatory. Our hair has energy. You may notice it’ll stop growing if you’re going to one stylist, and if you switch to someone else, all of a sudden it’ll start growing again. I believe that’s because of their positive energy. So speak kindly to your hair. Dont say bad things to it or about it. Love it!”
Felicia is a stylist who works by appointment only — if you want to reach her, contact her through her Facebook page Loving Your Hair With Natural Hair Workshop. And as the name would indicate — she is offering a natural hair workshop that’s traveling throughout the US. And she’s coming soon to Chicago! “I want to encourage the women of Chicago to embrace their natural beauty. I do it because I love to give the information to people.” Admission to her event will be $25, and you can watch this space for further details.
Talking with Felicia was wonderful – she is a warm, humble, friendly and spiritual person with wisdom to impart. I really really hope to meet her when she comes to Chicago, and I hope to interview her again in the future!!
Be sure to join her Facebook page Loving Your Hair With Natural Hair Workshop – let her know Afrobella sent ya!
Thanks for everything, Felicia – natural hair lovers appreciate what you’re doing SO much. Keep the inspiration coming!!