In the latest installment of our Natural Hair Diary series, Afrobella.com’s Patrice Grell Yursik profiles Nikia Phoenix, a L.A.-based model with a coily, chestnut-hued ‘fro. Natural Woman: Nikia Phoenix Age: 30 City: Los Angeles Occupation: Model Hair Journey: Nikia got her first relaxer at six years old. “I was about to enter the first grade and my mom wanted my hair to look ‘nice,'” she says. “My hair is thick, coarse and dry, so I think she figured it’d be easier to style with a relaxer.” When Nikia began her modeling career at age 25, her hair was still chemically processed. “Around 2005, advertisers started using more natural haired models…mostly light-skinned women with loose curls,” she says. “My hair was relaxed, but hairstylists on set were styling my hair to look like that. I was like, this is cute, but it’s not what my natural hair looks like!” At that point, Nikia cut her hair, transitioned, and never looked back. These days, her hairstyling on shoots is kept to a minimum. “I’m convinced that people [in the industry] don’t know how to work with black hair,” she says. “They’re scared of it and don’t have any training. Stylists will just spray it and walk away.” Favorite Products: Free Your Mane Reviving Spray ($14.95, freeyourmane.com), Free Your Mane Restorative Hair Oil ($24.95, freeyourmane.com) Hair Icons: Tracee Ellis Ross, Esperanza Spalding, Peggy Dillard-Toone, Grace Jones Advice to Aspiring Naturals: “Stop thinking that your hair is too kinky, too curly, or too nappy. God did not make a mistake when he created your hair.”