Natural Hair Diary: Lydia Hamilton-Monnie

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In the latest installment of our weekly "Natural Hair Diary," Afrobella.com's Patrice Grell Yursik profiles a plus-size boutique owner with an impossibly elegant, cropped natural 'do.

Natural Woman: Lydia Hamilton-Monnie

Age: 30

City: Glenview, IL

Occupation: Contemporary plus size apparel boutique owner

Hair Journey: As a little girl, Lydia used to sit by the stove for weekly pressings. "When my mom had enough of the burnt ears, wailing and inevitable "sweating out" of my hair, she took me to her salon for my first relaxer at age seven," she says. She became so comfortable with the process that, by her junior year of high school, she was applying her own relaxers.

She first attempted to go natural in college. "I'd see my 'new growth' peeking out and wondered what I'd look like with a head full of it," she says. Two months after her last relaxer she big-chopped, but then had a "now what?" moment. At the time, there wasn't much readily available information on natural hair-care, so she soon turned back to relaxers. Two years later, she tried going natural again, but ended up relaxed again due to her lack of natural hair know-how.

The third time was the charm! She relaxed her hair in time for the opening of Boutique Larrieux, her plus size apparel boutique - but she started transitioning in March 2010, using braids and sew-ins while soaking up information from natural hair blogs and YouTube vloggers (she especially loved vlogger 160Days2Lose2, whose hair texture she could identify with). When she was ready, she big-chopped in her bathroom. "Afterwards, I went to a barber to get my lopsided cut properly shaped," she says. "Since then I've let it grow out, learned which products work for me, and I'll celebrate one year natural in June!"

Favorite Products: Why Knot Concept Salon's Hair Butter and TangleTeezer  (whyknotconceptsalon.com)

Hair Icons: Jill Scott, Goapele

Advice to Aspiring Naturals: "Find natural hair YouTube vloggers with a texture similar to yours. They'll help you identify new styles and product hits and misses. To see women try, succeed and sometimes fail at doing their own hair has helped me in my own process."