#BringingItBlack: Braids, Beads, Shells & Nelms

April 10, 2017

We've recently seen the resurface of a popular hair style often worn during the 70's ever since Solange released her Video for Don't touch my hair where we see her rocking her braids full of a wonderful variety of beads.

 

But who was the mastermind behind this creation...

 

 

It became popular from an iconic inspiration, and the help of her hairstylist of 10-plus years, Nikki Nelms. Born in St. Petersburg, Nikki Nelms is a master at seamlessly weaving everyday objects—and fine jewellery—into natural texture.

 

“I’m not a hair activist,” she insists. “I’m here for beauty.”

                                                                                                              - Nikki Nelms

 

 

Nelms’s worked on the visuals for A Seat at the Table and refueled the fire of this iconic look that many of us can Identify with.

 

In an interview with Vogue Mag Nikki Nelms shares that the inspiration behind the beaded hair came from Jazz pianist and R&B singer Patrice Rushen. "Patrice's hair was always on point".

 

 

This creative and inventive braids styles became so popular in the 80's that many young black girls would accessories their braids with beads also. Even today it always brings a smile to my face when I see a young girl with beads in her hair. It takes me right back to my childhood when I didn't have a care in the world and would enjoy playing with my friends in school, as they all admired my hairstyle and would compliment colourful beads...You always had to have the bright colours.

 

This style gave me, and i'm sure plenty other kids a certain type of confidence because we felt cool and stylish and this was our standard of beauty.

 

But it didn't stop there. Representation matters, so when I saw Alicia Keys burst onto the scene with her braids and beads I was like 'Oh hold up, Don't call it a come back..We've been here for year!'

 

 

licia Alicia Alicia, I remember wanting to be just like her, as she looks hella awesome with her braided styles and of course those powerhouse vocals in Falling, but this was the first time that I saw a celebrity that really resembled me in main stream media so of course I had to bring back my beads in secondary school.

 

I didn't really commit to the style and this is where life, society and media corrupt your mind as a teen. Although I felt like Alicia looked beautiful and I wanted my hair just like hers, being in a prominently white school I had second thoughts about what others would think about my hair, was it acceptable to be in school with my head covered in braids and beads and would people think I'm ugly or take the piss?

 

I did just want to be totally bad-ass and rock this similar look that Erykah Badu has. Time and patience of putting on all of those beads was the only thing that stop me... Soon come.

 

It was actually these women on Instagram who inspired me to go for the look. Instagram is a perfect hub for hair inspiration and these ladies killed it.

 

 

 

This was the perfect look for our #bringingitblack content since we've seen a lot of other races appropriating our historical hairstyles with no understanding of it's origin. This was the perfect style to show pride in my blackness and make a point of reclaiming recent trends. 

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