Almost 25 years ago, my curls and I moved from California to Texas — low humidity California to off-the-charts muggy Texas. Up to this point, I had fought my curls with a vengeance through every method imaginable — chemicals, appliances, products and otherwise. I endured horrible nicknames like Bozo. But the heat and humidity of Texas were going to change my hair and my life forever.

Bitching to Beginning

In the mid-1990s, I was working at the Austin newspaper when I bonded with a few other curlies. We would have daily bitch sessions about our hair, the frizz, the lack of products, the latest nightmare hair cut (No, “the Rachel” from Friends does not work on 3b curls). We were at a party having another of our bitch fests when a friend overheard us.

“Do you always talk about your hair this much?” he asked

“Pretty much. Do you have a problem with that?” we said, after one too many mimosas.

“Have you ever thought of starting a magazine or web site for people like you?” he asked.

We proceeded to get on the computer, do a search and discover that no web site existed for curly hair. Of course, our whole lives we had known there were no resources for people like us, having scoured through the annual hair issues of beauty magazines to discover, yet again, that curly hair didn’t seem to exist for beauty editors. If there was curly hair on a model, the goal was to fix or straighten it.

Over the next few months, we created our vision of what a curly web site could be. My neighbor’s 13-year-old son created our first website, complete with the Frieda logo and her animated curls. NaturallyCurly.com was born.

That was 14 years ago this September. The world today is a much different place than it was when we started the site. Today, there are thousands of products designed especially for curls, coils and waves. There is a growing legion of stylists who have made texture their specialty, with special techniques that help accentuate rather than fight natural texture. Women around the globe are now trading their relaxers for natural styles.

Read More: My Renewed Love Affair with Mousse

My Curls

Through this journey, I have come to love my own curls, thanks to the amazing community members who have spread curl pride, the incredible products that now exist and the stylists who have helped me discover that my curls are one of my greatest assets. That’s not to say that I love my 3b curls everyday. It’s amazing to my friends and co-workers that I can use the exact same product every day for a week and my hair can look completely different each day. After a run or a yoga class, it can get pretty crazy. I like to call it my daily adventure. It’s never boring. My list of Holy Grail products grows every day as amazing new products arrive on the market.

Some of my current standbys: Paul Mitchell Express Fast Form, Ouidad Climate Control Gel, AG Re:coil, Curls Unleashed Set it Off Curl Boosting Jelly, Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper. And I can never be without my Curls Like Us Curl Cloth.

I think my biggest feeling of accomplishment, something I’m prouder of than anything else, comes from my 11-year-old daughter Emma’s attitudes about her own curls. She loves her curly hair. While some of her curly friends in middle school regularly flat iron their hair, she says her curls are her best feature. When stylists ask if she wants them blown straight after a haircut, her answer is a definitive “NO!” If she wants to straighten it on occasion, that’s fine too. But at least she is confident that her curls are beautiful and they are a part of what makes her unique.

Read More: Editor’s Picks: Cassidy’s Shampoos for Coily Hair

Michelle’s Hot Finds:

  1. CHI One Shot: I travel a lot, but I can’t go anywhere without my blowdryer and diffuser. On a recent video shoot, celeb stylist Tippi Shorter was using this amazing, compact dryer on the models. It’s half the size and weight of a normal dryer.
  2. Hair Spray!: I am always surprised when I hear that people say that curlies don’t use hair spray. I use it all the time. It’s the perfect thing to set your curls. My current favorite is the new Deva Flexible-Hold Hair Spray – a light, non-sticky aerosol.
  3. A Soon to be disclosed AG product: We got this amazing new product and all the curly gals at TextureMedia are loving it. The styling product, which launches in July, is truly unique. Stay tuned!
  4. Goody Double Wear Elastic Bracelets: Most of us at TextureMedia seem to always have a ponytail elastic around our wrists, just in case we need a plan B. So when we heard about these new Goody Elastic Bracelets, we had to check them out. They are a hair accessory and jewelry in one, available in silver and gold. Truly brilliant.

Read More: What Curl Power is All About