Blog Like a Girl: Antoinette and Shanti of Around the Way Curls

Antoinette (l) and Shanti (r)
Photos Courtesy Around the Way Curls

There are so many natural hair websites out in the blogosphere these days that when I stumble upon one I haven’t read before I usually think, “Oh gosh, not another one.” But when I found Antoinette and Shanti’s blog Around the Way Curls (formerly known as A Curl’s Best Friend), I knew I’d found something special. 


Antoinette and Shanti are best friends and together have created an online publication that explores pop culture and women’s issues with an emphasis on celebrating naturally kinky and curly hair. They say their goal is to re-define popular notions of beauty and inspire women to embrace their uniqueness and to encourage a strong sense of self-worth within their readers. 


In less than a year, Antoinette and Shanti have managed to garner a strong following of loyal readers and were recently named by The Root as two of the best black bloggers of 2012. 

The ladies of Around the Way Curls graciously shared with me how they’ve managed to build a strong online community and how they deal with issues they face while blogging. 


You launched your blog a little less than a year ago, yet your site is already very popular. What’s your secret? How did you get the word out about your site?

I don’t think that we have a secret to our popularity. We have just kept consistency, creativity and communication as the pillars to our blog’s growth. I think if you want to have a successful blog you must remain consistent. You should be posting every day and your material should have some rhyme and reason to it. There is nothing worse than to have a reader confused about the focus of the blog.
 
You must also have your creative juices flowing daily. We are always open and hoping to gain inspiration from our daily lives. In the shower, upon waking, when listening to music we are always trying to gain inspiration which can be translated to our blog. 

Lastly, the most important of all is communication. We would not be where we are if we had not reached out to others in the blogosphere. We took a leap and reached out to people that had many more followers than we did like Curly Nikki and Andrea and Shannon from Those Girls Are Wild. After contacting Nikki asking if she would let us guest post on her fabulous blog, she was kind enough to oblige and we were exposed to triple the readers we were reaching on our own. The same goes for our video collaboration we did with Those Girls Are Wild. We also keep up sincere communication with our readers through comments, emails and events. We love them and we want them to know that. They are never ignored or taken for granted.

Why do you think natural hair has become so popular over the past few years?

Natural hair is undeniably the best option (if not the only) to achieving healthy and happy hair. I think once women of color had the information readily available on how to take care of their hair and had the visual representations — via blogs and YouTube —  of the growth potential and style potential from other women- it was a wrap! There is no stopping it now. It is not a fad. It is only growing. 

One of the most memorable things I ever read on your blog was when you all addressed a comment from a reader who said mixed hair isn’t natural hair and that curly girls should stop trying to associate themselves with the natural hair movement. Why do you think people have this kind of attitude and how do you deal with it?

That comment was not the first time we have been confronted with that type of thinking. We have had very close friends say the same thing to us. Initially we were really defensive and insecure about how to handle that mentality. At times we thought that perhaps we didn’t fit the bill or that we should simply ignore it, but as the comments continued we realized that we had to address it head on and honestly. We will never deny that the experience and response of going natural varies from texture to texture.  But the act of discontinuing straightening and chemically perming one’s hair is across the board referred to as “going natural.” When one allows her hair to grow out of her head unaltered whether it grows kinky, curly or in fine ringlets or waves it means that person has decided to embrace and care for her hair naturally. Boom. It’s scientifically straightforward. 

As women who are both bi-racial, we are always confronted with the accusations that our existence is easier than our darker sisters. I think the way in which we deal with it is by remaining genuine in who and how we are. We do not cower to anyone, we do not push the “white aesthetic” on our blog, we do not over compensate for anyone, nor do we vilify white people either. We just try to represent ourselves (and all the components that make us up) respectfully and honestly. 


What are some of the benefits and challenges of blogging with your best friend? 

Shanti says: Sweet baby Jesus! The challenges! Just kidding…but not really. Antoinette and I are complete opposites in how we think and work, but we are the same when it comes to our love, passion and goals for the blog. We bicker often about howthings should get done but we never argue about what it is that needs to be done. I never have to worry about her post content. I trust her judgment, ideas and quality control and I think it goes the same for her. We love each other and I think that that comes before business. We know each other well and creating this blog together has only brought us closer. We are pretty much family. It’s a family business at this point.

What advice would you give to someone hoping to launch a blog in a niche that they think may already be over-saturated (like natural hair)?

We would say do something different! Make sure that, although your focus is hair, you offer your information in a different way. Make it juicy. Nothing is worse then a dry ass, dull hair blog. Incorporate your other interests as well so that it is not just hair, hair and hair.  And no matter what type of blog you are hoping to start, remember the “3 Cs”- consistency, creativity and communication. 


Cross-posted at The Writeous Babe Project

6 Comments

  1. Great questions! We were happily engaged in doing this interview. Thanks for reaching out!

  2. Great interview! I really enjoy Around the Way Curls. Antoinette and Shanti stand out as bloggers because their passion really shows through and they actually respond to their readers. I love getting personal contact from bloggers. They do these amazing features of motherhood and they are not afraid to put themselves out there and really share themselves. I can’t wait to see what is in store in the future for these two lovely ladies!

    • Yes, Marcia, you’re so right. Their passion for empowering women to embrace their natural beauty shows in everything they do.

      Thanks so much for stopping by Georgia Mae today!

    • THANK YOU SO MUCH MARCIA AND JAVACIA!!!! That makes us so happy. You have no idea.

  3. That was such a Glorious Interview.Bravo Sistahs!!ATWC are like the only one blog that actually connects to WOMEN about their hair,love&relationship,and mostly about their SELVES.They are funny, down to earth and just lovely.Thank Jesus that i found them at Curly Nikki…I would need a job at Mcdonals because all dem hair kiddie perms be gettin’ expensive these day…Anyhoo,KEEP ON BLOGGING.Don’t let NO envious, skeptical,arrognant person block your way of expressing yourself through your blog.They probabaly somewhere weavepatting their tacky weave and saying”i wish i was them..but since i aint imma hate on them”

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