Yolanda Renee is the fierce naturalista behind the brand, Et Cetera.

Introduce yourself.

A lot of people don't understand why my brand is ETC BLOG MAG, lol! I'm kinda shying away from the "mag" part of it but I started blogging mainly about fashion, beauty, and celebrity entertainment. I was a blogger and graphic designer for Necole Kane of www.necolebitchie.com and she was my idol! Still is. Lol. So my own blog followed in her footsteps. Other than celeb gossip, fashion & beauty was a main focus as well. So that is why Et Cetera makes sense to me because I covered so many different topics.

However, once I went natural in 2012, natural hair took over my blog and my life! Lol. Now that I'm natural I have been able to branch out and start my very own popular YouTube channel, build relationships with huge brands such as Carol's Daughter, Entwine Couture, Dark & Lovely, Private Stock Hair & more; I've started my own online natural hair inspired clothing line, self published a natural kids coloring book, attend events as a keynote speaker/blogger, and even have my own events!

Overall, I've branded myself in the natural hair community who have accepted me with open arms.

I think my curlfriends love me because I am a naturalista but stand out because of my creative approach with everything. Through my journey I not only inspire my curls to love their hair but I also encourage them to apply this lifestyle change to all aspects of life!

How long have you been natural (brief natural hair journey)?

Before this journey I was always "weaved up"! The Weave Queen! Yaaassss! I use to relax my hair and then sew in a weave with a small leave out section. I did that for a long time and finally I shook my head at myself and asked, why would I put a relaxer in my hair and then cover it up?  Finally, I stopped getting perms but still rocked a weave. My last perm was in Nov 2011. Around April or May 2012 I was amazed at my hair growth! I didn't even take care of my real hair but it still was growing! I thought, what if I actually took care of it in its natural state...it would be so healthy! I didn't want to deal with two textures and I figured I had enough new growth/natural hair to do a mini BC! So I did it! I cut the permed ends off and ever since then its been smooth sailing. I love doing hair anyway, so my natural hair journey has been very pleasant! Having an audience helps as well! My curls inspire me to continue my journey! I'm loving every second of it and will never change this lifestyle, EVER!

What's your daily hair routine?

Most probably wouldn't believe me but my hair is protected most of my life! Lol. As a vlogger/blogger I work at home and spend most of my time designing t-shirts, editing videos, online shopping for my online store, processing/packaging orders, being a Mommy and girlfriend, etc. Whenever I'm at home my hair is in two strand twists, bantu knots or a bun. I say all that to let you know my daily routine doesn't require much; I just make sure I oil my scalp every night and add moisture as needed. If I do let "Racquel" out to play I simply let down my twists by coating my hands and fingers with virgin coconut oil, shape and style my 'fro with a hair pick! I keep a goody hair band in my bag just in case my hair gets out of control during the day. A puff always saves the day! I am a firm believer that your regimen should be basic, sticking the basics work! What is most important to have healthy hair to me is sticking to the basics of hair care, eating healthy, drinking lots of water, and exercising! I need to work on exercising! Ha! Genetics take the lead as well. So that is why I don't really stress over the actual routine or regimen, sticking to the basics is good enough for me, even as a natural hair vlogger! And that is what I try to show through my channel.

What are your favorite products?

If I didn't have to review various product lines to keep my channel content up to date I would stick to only a few staples. Some of my favs are As I Am Leave In Conditioner and Moisturizer, Alikay Naturals Essential 17 Growth Oil, Eden BodyWorks Pudding Souffle, Entwine Couture Crème Jelle Styler, Eco Styler Gel, Giovanni's Conditioner, Carol's Daughter Lisa's Hair Elixir Conditioner! As you can see I am a fan of conditioners! Lol. I don't really have a fav shampoo!

What's your nighttime routine?

At night I would do chunky twists to make sure my hair is either protected or reset for a possible takedown the next day. Before retwisting at night I would determine if my hair needed moisture, more products, or oil. I do not detangle or interrupt the curls that are still in place while retwisting. I make sure the twists are neat as possible but I try to keep as much definition as possible that has already been set. If I do need to add moisture or more products I focus on my ends only to eliminate shrinkage. I then cover up with a silk or satin type of scarf. Simple as that!

How did you get your hair color (if applicable), and how do you maintain it?

I don't use hair color however, I've been researching henna dye! I love "Curly" Nikki Walton's routine on her website. I will do a tutorial when I do try it out!

Do you ever get tired of curly hair? 

I wouldn't say I get tired of it but I am definitely a fan of a fierce 'fro! I love to rock my 'fro because its beautiful, its different and I am able to show my curlfriends "definition" is not that important! Our hair is so versatile and I love it! I will also throw on a wig with the quickness if I get tired of doing my natural hair. So basically, I never get tired of having curly hair but I sometimes get tired of caring for it. Sometimes a girl needs a break and that is when the 'fro comes out, a wig, or a turban wrap! Lol.

On your blog and channel you inspire women to achieve their dreams while promoting the beauty of natural hair and self-love.  Did you meet any challenges on staying this positive and inspirational while building your brand? How did you overcome them?

I'm so glad that you picked up on that. I mentioned that in my intro and didn't realize you would bring this up. That makes me so happy that you and others acknowledge my efforts of not only inspiring women with their hair but with their dreams as well! And absolutely, there are many challenges in staying positive. As a blogger/vlogger you are definitely putting yourself out there which means you are going to have a lot of feedback from everyone! Reading negative comments, getting emails with people's "not so nice opinions", seeing a "thumbs down" on your video you worked so hard on, etc can get under your skin. For only a quick second, these types of things bothered me, but I did overcome it by staying positive- reading hundreds of positive comments, reading fan mail, seeing the hundreds of thumbs up next to that 2 thumbs down made it all better! The other challenge is of course juggling it all on top of being a good Mommy & girlfriend. Its a lot of work and that is still a daily struggle. Many don't know but I do not have a team behind me handling all my various projects and clients. It gets a little crazy on my end. And although I have not figured out this daily challenge of juggling it all, I still remain positive by focusing on how many people I've inspired, my girls Taylor & Skylar who look up to me and love me so much, my boyfriend who allowed me to do this fulltime because he loves and believes me in! So no matter what the challenge is, remaining positive no matter what is the always the way to overcome it!

What are some of the most surprising myths or questions you've encountered?

Oh wow, there are so many! Where do I start!? Lol. Before going natural I use to wear weaves all the time! Once natural, I went through a stage of being so annoyed seeing people rocking curly weaves while I was struggling to grow my 'fro to those same lengths. I know, its crazy but I did go through that stage and now understand how silly and selfish that was of me. Now that I've moved passed that train of thought I find myself getting annoyed by those who still think that way. Does that make sense? I rock weaves or wigs now whenever I need a break from doing my hair or to just protect my hair to try to retain length. I have some that get so annoyed when I tuck my hair away, especially if I rock a long, straight textured wig! My gosh! I'm admitting I use to feel the same way, I got over it and I really wish everyone else would too! We all need a break sometimes and rocking a weave, wig, or straight does not mean you have left the fight to show society that natural beauty is acceptable!

Hair growth in general is a myth in the natural hair community in my opinion! There are some who love to keep their hair short and in tapered styles but a majority of the community want to grow long, thick, healthy hair! I was scrolling through Instagram one day and came across one of my fav natural hair stylists, Jennifer Rose! She keeps it real! And she started a topic about hair growth and retaining length. It was very interesting and she made me realize there is a myth the black people's hair does not grow like other ethnicities. That is a huge MYTH! I want people to understand that our hair grows at the same rate, approximately 6 inches a year. Those who do not think their hair grows that fast need to understand that retaining that length is what is playing tricks on you! You have to work hard to retain the length to see the 6 inches a year! That is why a healthy hair care regimen, diet, exercise, and drinking plenty of water is so important! And your regimen does not have to be complicated! Sticking the basics works! As long as you wash, condition, deep condition, moisturize, and style your hair properly you should be ok! Another myth that I have started seeing a lot lately, is that most naturals want a curly texture! That is so far from the truth! I have to admit when I first went natural I did crave for a curly hair type! Its a rookie mistake! Lol. But that was apart of my "newly natural stage" and not having a lot of knowledge about my journey. I got over that so quickly! And I think most naturals go through that stage. But seasoned naturals know that you have to organically fall in love with your own unique texture. I'm sure we all get over that stage. A lot of naturals, whether they have a type 3 hair type like Taren or not, like to rock a fierce fro! Taren loves her 'fro! I love my 'fro! Curls are not that important! I think a majority of the natural hair community is beyond curls and more focused on hair healthy and retaining length! I wish this myth can be put to rest so there is not a forced divide in the natural hair community! There are so many textures- curly to the kinkiest, and they are all accepted! Be proud of your texture and show it off so we can showcase to the world how proud we are of all textures! I've made this a core focus on my facebook page, www.facebook.com/etcblogmag! I posts lots of pictures with all hair types rocking a fierce 'fro to remind my curlfriends, it is beautiful!

When did you start blogging/vlogging?

I started my blog in 2010 when I was following in the footsteps of my blogger idol Necole Bitchie, however, in 2012 is when I started blogging/vlogging about natural hair. Things happened so fast after that! I'm amazed by the rapid progression! Its a bit overwhelming but I love it! The natural hair community has been so supportive! And I thank God everyday for it! I feel so blessed that my hard work & dedication is being recognized and its people all at the same time!

How did you become a successful blogger/vlogger/guru?

I feel like I've been successful by working extremely hard, and never giving up! This applies to everything in life, not just being a blogger. I also stay true to myself because I know that is the one thing that is going to set me apart from the thousands already out here. Branding is very important. too! Your image will help you stand out. The smallest detail is planned out and executed with professionalism when it comes to me. I think people really take notice to those small details. Networking is also important to be successful in the natural hair community! I give myself a lot of props but connecting with other bloggers/vloggers like Necole Kane, Jenell B. Stewart, Curly Nikki Walton, Taren Guy, NaturallyGlam, Jouelzy, and even accepting offers like this interview on Naturally Curly benefits all parties involved. These women have helped me get my brand out there to masses. In a nutshell, work hard, be consistent, network, and have something unique to offer and success will come!

What do you like most about blogging/vlogging?

I honestly love the fact there are so many ways to get the job done! My personality is very sporadic! I don't like doing the same thing all the time, its boring and I will lose interest really fast! But as a blogger/vlogger I have the creative control to inspire others in countless ways! And not only am I inspiring my curlfriends but their feedback in turn inspires me! I love the positivity! I know we mentioned the no so positive feedback but honestly, the positive in the natural hair community definitely outweighs negativity!

What do you want to do beyond your blog and YouTube channel?

I'm almost ashamed to admit it but my blog isn't my main focus right now but I have been inspired recently by blogs like NaturallyCurly and Natural Hair Rules! I plan to relaunch my blog and really come with something new and fresh! I want to continue to expand my online store, Et Cetera Boutique, I want to have my own salon, have my own natural hair products, publish a few more children's/coloring books, and be able to travel the world to attend more events and expand my entire brand. Each of these areas I want to focus on forever! Some may think they are all across the board but to me they are all connected and make sense! I'm onto a good start but I want to improve in all these areas!

Do you have any advice for new bloggers/gurus (what you wish someone had told you?)

My advice is pretty much the same as my view on being successful- be yourself, work hard, be consistent, network, and never give up!

Honesty is also important! Your audience can learn so much about you in videos whether you mean for them to or not! This is of course an extension of being yourself! Your videos should be very honest because they will learn to trust your opinions and content of your channel. That's a big deal and it should be taken seriously. Just represent yourself well because not only do your subscribers watch but brands watch as well. How you carry yourself on camera will have an affect on who your audience is as well as how your channel will grow by building relationships with blogs, websites, brands and other networks.

Any upcoming projects/events you'd like to tell us about?

Absolutely! I am currently on tour, YOLANDA RENEE TAKES YOUR CITY which is a meet & greet tour that myself and Natural Partners in Crime are organizing. We started in NYC in April, which was amazing! Its sponsored by Eden BodyWorks and Carol's Daughter! Our swag bags were the talk of the town! Lol.

Next up is DC on July 26th at Bar7; its a very chill vibe, music, food, drinks, hair talk, giveaways, prizes, swag bags, and more. I can't wait for the DMV event, that's my hometown! You can get your tickets now at http://yrtakesdmv.eventbrite.com! You can see a tour schedule here! I will also be the keynote blogger at The Naturalista Hair Show in Silver Spring MD on Aug 2-3. You can get more information about this amazing event at The Naturalista Hair Show! I also have a children's/coloring book, CURLIES COLOR TOO! You can purchase it on Amazon! This book is my effort to show our youth that our hair is beautiful! And through our beautiful hair we can learn self love! I'm currently working on a new book to make this a series and of course to improve my craft one book at a time! Other than that, I just plan on improving in all areas of my brand! I hope you stick around to see it! And if you want me to attend an event in your city, email me at [email protected] ail.com! I love to travel and meet new people! Thank you so much NaturallyCurly and Kala for having me! This was an amazing interview which has me refocused on the things I have planned for myself, my brand and my curlfriends! If you took anything from this interview, I hope you understand that you can do whatever you want to in life. All you have to do is go for it; GO HARD! And never give up!

Follow Yolanda Renee on Instagram here and  subscribe to her YouTube channel here.

Writer Kala is the founder of the blog, The KG Lifestyle. Check it out for more hair, beauty, and lifestyle motivation! You can follow her on Instagram @TheKGLifestyle.