Hair model and key influencer Tessa is the epitome of #lengthcheck goals. And while long hair isn't everything, it certainly is a coveted attribute of growing healthy hair in the naturally curly hair community. The 14-year veteran natural has a blog and various social media channels, Afroista, in which she describes the many feats of overcoming the relaxer struggle and embracing her beautiful long curls.  Saturday, I caught up with her backstage at our Texture on the Runway show during New York Fashion Week 2016 before she graced the stage supporting Au Naturale Dark & Lovely by the hands of First Lady Michelle Obama's hairstylist, Johnny Wright.

Explain the look Johnny created for tonight's show.

This is like a goddess bun. A loose bun, with the plump braids. It's a very regal updo. I think everyone with texture can do it at home, no matter the size or length of their curls.

What is it really like being a textured hair model?

People love my hair, but they also love to hate it. I've been blessed to only work with natural hair companies, but unfortunately I have still experienced damage by those companies. They assume they can do my hair, and then they can't. They make mistakes, and I have to walk away with horribly damaged hair. Now I'm very selective in what organizations I work with, including the hairstylist. One of the first hair companies I worked with cut off 8 inches. I asked them, what happened to my length? This was two years ago. It kind of made me nervous to get back into hair modeling, because I cannot afford damaged hair anymore. I've been fortunate to have better experiences since then.

How do you describe your hair?

When it's stretched out, my hair is down to my waist. I have cut layers in it, but it's pretty much there. I don't do the hair type thing. The whole 'I'm in this box--you'll never see me do that'. Also, the shrinkage is real. But all the time, you learn to work with it.

What are your own hair goals for 2016?

My goal is to get all my hair down to my tailbone; I made this vow when I started this journey to go back to my roots. When the hairstylist messed up my hair that one time, that was kind of a great opportunity to transition and just go for it.

What does your hair love and hate?

My hair goes through cycles, depending on the season, my diet, and other factors. I stick to basics for the most part; I love extra virgin olive oil and shea butter. I also really like some products from Carol's Daughter Hair Milk collection. I'm not someone who gets the whole line--I think it's important to use what you need, even if it is one or two products and not the entire collection. I recently got sick and was very tender headed, and it was hard to do certain things to my hair. It all just depends on what my hair responds to in that moment.

Are you excited about walking the runway tonight?

I am so enjoying myself. I love looking around the room and seeing so many afro-textured women of all various textures and colors, feeling empowered. We're about to go up on stage and show the community. I am so excited!

Follow Tessa on Instagram @Afroista | Visit Tessa's blog,