When it comes to natural hair bloggers, no one is quite like CurlyNikki.com’s Nikki Walton. Not only does the Missouri native produce one of the most obsessively read naturalista sites on the planet, she’s also a licensed psychotherapist!

Having insight into the hearts and minds of Black women helps give her videos, articles and galleries a unique, sister-to-sister vibe – and three million monthly views later, the chemical-free community adores her for it.

Here, the spiral-haired stunner chats with us about her natural hair journey, her tress inspirations and the products she can’t live without.

ESSENCE.COM: Did you do “the big chop” or did you transition?

NIKKI WALTON:  I’ve been natural my entire life! Until 18, I solely wore old school press-and-curls. But when I moved away for college, the rural area I lived in didn’t have Black stylists. After two years of poofy, frizzy hair, I purchased an expensive flat iron – finally, I had bone-straight hair and I felt fierce!

Of course, repeatedly flat-ironing dirty hair and not deep-conditioning led to white dot breakage, splits, and chronic dryness. At this point, I started working with my natural texture. Just like my relaxed counterparts, I transitioned for two years in order to grow out the damage. By graduate school, my natural ‘do was in full swing!

ESSENCE.COM: Why did you start your blog?

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NW: As a licensed psychotherapist, I became intrigued by the reaction I received from family and friends when I stopped flat-ironing. I was accused of “trying to fix something that wasn’t broke,” and sacrificing my future career… all because I was wearing my natural texture. One family member kept reminding me to “comb my hair.”

I quickly realized that for most newly natural women, the only source of support was online – and it became my passion! I avidly participated in forums on NaturallyCurly.com and by October ’08, I decided to launch CurlyNikki.com with nearly thirty articles. I wanted to create that place of support, a “curly haven” if you will (where the streets are lined with shea butter!).

ESSENCE.COM: How has the site evolved?

NW: Although you’ll find articles on styling, product reviews, and ingredients, a large part of CurlyNikki.com focuses on the psychology behind it all. While many may argue that “it’s just hair, it’s not that deep,” I’d argue that for Black women, it’s wrapped up in our quality of life.

ESSENCE.COM: How do you measure CurlyNikki.com’s success?

NW: I never would’ve imagined that my passion (natural hair care, maintenance, and decoding psychological ties between Black women and their hair) would blossom into a self-made career. The site isn’t just about me, though… it’s about thousands of curlies worldwide sharing their stories. It’s all about support, and our community says that if you need someone to talk to, we’re here for you, no matter what your journey is.

Click here to check out Nikki’s top twenty favorite natural hair products and celebs styles.