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If you’ve ever been on the hunt for natural hair inspo on Instagram, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the amazing feed of @naturallyshesdope. I recently spoke with the LaToya, the founder of @naturallyshesdope, about the styles that are inspiring her right now and the look she might be trying as we get ready for this year’s Texture On the Runway. 

Texture On the Runway, powered by Sally Beauty, is the place to see and be seen in the curly hair community, so you want to make sure you look and feel your best (and so do your curls). This will be LaToya’s third time attending our annual show at Fashion Week, and as she is a repeat member of our influencer squad I knew she’d have expert insights on how best to prepare.

You’ve been part of the TOTR influencer squad before; what stood out to you about this event?

Last year to me, it was like next level. Everyone came with their A game. The show could have been in competition with any show at Fashion Week. From the atmosphere to the hairstyles, the brands thought outside of the box; they incorporated the dancing and performers. I think this year people will probably take it to the next level and I’m excited to see that. 

Do you have any advice for first-time TOTR attendees?

That’s funny — I was just talking to my friend about this. I told her to just come fly, make sure you have your camera, make sure you have your portable charger because you’ll be wanting to take pictures and post on Insta stories so much that your phone will be dead. Make sure you mingle! There are so many different people at Texture On the Runway; it’s not like your usual hair event where you’re used to seeing the same people. There are all types of influencers there; you have people from Sally’s, people from NaturallyCurly, photographers, stylists, brand representatives. You’ll be meeting so many people so I always say “bring your business cards.” Make sure you just network and be open to people. I think sometimes people are intimidated by things that are different or outside their comfort zone, but I feel like this is the perfect place to network. I’ve met so many people and I haven’t had any bad experiences. So come, and don’t be nervous to talk to anyone. If you see someone you’ve always wanted to meet and they’re right there in front of you, go say "hi." Be prepared to network with everyone, and also enjoy yourself!

What hair and beauty trends have you been seeing and loving most this year?

People are getting more comfortable with big hair now, not just in one particular texture, but all textures. In the past I think people felt like “oh it’s too much” or “it’s too big” but now people are really stepping out and embracing that. I’m excited to see how people are using protective styles to create even bigger hair right now. I like what people are doing with long ponytail braids or buns. So this year I think we’ll see a lot of super big, super-funky styles that are just – dope!

Do you know what you want to do with your hair yet?

No, I’m not sure. I really wanna cut my hair – like, off. But we’ll see how that goes. I definitely want to do something different. I know the ladies are using to seeing me with a lot of protective styles. Because my birthday just passed I’m feeling like doing something different. I’m thinking a tapered cut, but don’t hold me to that!

Have you figured out what you want to wear? What’s inspiring your look right now?

I’m seeing a lot of thicker women wearing flowy pieces and I wasn’t really comfortable with that style but it’s something I want to try. I was actually just looking at something online, so I’m thinking something flowy, sexy, but not too much. Something that will look nice on all sizes. Maybe a two-piece, show a little stomach but not too much. I’m liking wide pants.

As far as makeup I would say I want to go colorful. It’s still summer so I can still do colorful eyes. 

Do you have a go-to hairstyle for special events?

I don’t like to wear my hair out for big events! I’m always trying to rush my makeup in the last minute. So protective styles are just easier for me and I don’t have to worry about them. I do want to try something new though, so if you see me and my twist out’s looking crazy you’ll know it was because I tried something different!

For inspiration I usually like to scroll my page and other natural hair pages to see what’s going on and the vibe that’s happening. But what I love about texture is that you can see so many different styles — there’s not just one thing trending. Whether it’s the hair or the clothes, there’s something for everybody and everybody’s different.

What are your go-to products that you use when you want to look and feel your best?

My favorite products to prep are by Camille Rose, and I love The Mane Choice Ancient Egyptian Shampoo. I know you’re not supposed to be mixing brands but I do. Then I use the Mielle Babassu Oil & Mint Deep Conditioner. I know those are at Sally’s too because I’m always there! As for makeup, I always go for the Ardell Wispies lashes, and they’re always sold out so there’s this one Sally’s by my old house and I drive all the way there because it’s the one Sally’s where the lashes don’t sell out. Everybody loves the Wispies. I take everything off the rack, they’re probably so mad, but it’s the only place I can get them! 

What must-have items or products do you bring in your purse the night of? 

Edge control. For sure. I use the Mielle Edge Control and I make sure I have that in my purse. And eyelash glue, just in case the wind is not in my favor that night. I also bring tweezers and lip gloss. Especially for pictures. 

What’s your favorite part of the event?

I get so excited because I know the brands are gonna go hard. I would like to say, since this will be my third time coming, that you guys are next level for real. I was recently telling a friend this too; everything last year was just perfect from beginning to end. Everything you guys do is amazing, so I know it’s gonna be a whole new level this year. I’m so excited, and thank you for inviting me.