Cover Story: Nikki Nelms Dishes On Working With Janelle Monáe & Not Waiting For Validation

Janelle Monáe X Nikki Nelms
BTS with Janelle at the 2017 Grammy Awards //
Photo Credit: Instagram/@NikkiNelms

HH: How do you keep her hair healthy while switching between so many styles?
NN: Balance. It’s the same process if you were a client of a salon. You still need to make sure you get your treatments and trims and conditioning, shampoo. Make sure you keep your hair hydrated and healthy. I make sure she’s taken care of in between and her hair is taken care of while doing it.

HH: What are you some of your go-to products when styling?
NN: It depends on what I’m doing. I like obedient products. When I say obedient, I mean they do what they’re supposed to do and nothing more.

My favorite hairspray is Sebastian Shaper Plus Hair Spray because it does what you tell it to do and it’s not super drying. I also like Maui Moisture Nourish & Moisture Weightless Oil. And, I love using an Afro pick — it’s a great detangler.


Janelle Monáe X Nikki Nelms
Photo Credit: Instagram/@NikkiNelms

HH: Are there any trends you’re looking forward to?
NN: I’m not big on trends. I’d much rather do my own thing, which sometimes turns into a trend. If it’s already going on, I feel like it’s going to be time for something else soon.

HH: What do you want to see more of?
NN: I really want to see more diversity. [I want to see] styling hair according to the person’s individual style and not according to what’s being told to be their style. I love personal style. You never have to get rid of it. It can last forever until you are ready to change it.

HH: What’s something that you wish women did more of or knew more about their hair?
NN: I wish they knew how much beauty and how much ease would come if they embraced how ever their hair is naturally, and not try to fight it. Instead of trying to conform to another way, learn your hair — not your type of hair, but your own hair. And then you can find ways to make it do what you want it to do. It’s so much easier to know what you’re dealing with as opposed to slapping a relaxer on it or straightening it first.

HH: How do you see that tying into the natural hair trend?
NN: [People] wait for the world to validate natural hair before they have the desire to learn how to even deal with their own hair. To me, that’s just so crazy. I refuse to wait for someone to tell me that what I was born with is good enough and now I can like it. You cannot sell me, me.

It’s so much power in just knowing how fly you are without having to wait for somebody else to tell you. That’s too much power to give to somebody else. That’s so sad to me that you really have to wait ‘til somebody tells you what you have is nice until you realize it’s nice. Look at all those wasted days and summers and vacations.

HH: How do you define beauty?
NN: Beauty is confidence. You know when you feel beautiful, you know when you see something beautiful. You don’t really need validation for it. That confidence can overshadow any flaw.

HH: What’s your relationship like with your own hair?
NN: We don’t speak as much as we used to. [laughs]  We don’t spend as much time together as we used to because I’m always worried about other people’s hair, but I try to look presentable, at least.

HH: What’s your own on-the-go regimen look like?
NN: I outsource, I use my connections. I have really good friends that can do hair, so sometimes I’ll [ask them]: can you shampoo me or can you braid me? But, two messy French braids can take you a long way — from a plane ride to the nightclub with the right accessories. Or I’ll flat iron it. I keep it very simple. I’m into less is more, so it works.

HH: Any business ventures in the future?
NN: Right now, I have a partnership with Maui Moisture. This is my first partnership. Because my clients really believe what I say, I didn’t want them seeing me with something that I don’t believe in. I enjoy and I trust it so that’s who I’m with now.

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About The Author

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

isis is a music, hair and communications junkie. founder of Sadiaa and editor for HypeHair.com.