Fierce

A Dominicana Launched The First Natural Hair Only Salon In Her Country And Now She’s Bringing It To NYC

For Black and Afro-Latina women with tightly curled hair, discrimination is not unusual. For example, the military just barely approved natural hairstyles for their Black female service members back in 2017. Before that, they were only allowed to choose from a hand-full of processed hairstyles. The reason for this was that the organization argued that natural hair was “unprofessional” and did not have a place in the military.

Additionally, it’s still legal in 49 states to discriminate against people based on their natural hair. California only just banned that discriminatory policy back in early July 2019. In the rest of the states, people can be dismissed because of their hair based on dress code regulations.

Obviously, there is still plenty of work that needs to be done in order to stomp out prejudice against Black hair textures and this Dominicana is leading the charge.

Twitter / @janelmwrites

Carolina Contreras — known as Miss Rizos — has made her career providing hair care for Black and Afro-Latina women. Born in the Dominican Republic, Contreras’ start in the hair business began back in 2011 with her blog, “Miss Rizos.” The blog features posts in both English and Spanish about natural hair care and was inspired by the entrepreneur’s own journey towards natural styling.

The popularity of her blog led Contreras to launch a fundraiser that raised more than $10,000. She took those funds along with additional donations and her own savings and invested them into a huge project. In 2014, the entrepreneur opened her first all-natural hair salon in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo. While she only began with two employees, the shop — Miss Rizos Salon — now claims twenty employees and sees more than 500 clients each month.

“Once girls leave the salon you can see them skipping,” Contreras explained to BUSTLE. “They’re standing a little taller, they’re swaying their hair side to side … seeing them own their hair and own their power as they’re walking out, and stepping out, it’s just a very beautiful sight to see.”

However, not everyone has embraced natural hair as much as Contreras and her clients have.

Twitter / @RRebeldeBeauty

Racism and colorism are prevalent around the world — even in Contreras’ own Dominican Republic. The country has the largest Black population outside of the African continent and yet, the anti-Black sentiment is seen in several places in DR society. In everything from beauty standards to social approval, Black attributes are looked down on as being undesirable.

In response to this discrimination, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education released a video to promote positive feelings towards diversity back in March of 2019. In the PSA, different hair textures and skin colors are represented in a scholastic environment. This video is a direct reaction to an incident concerning a DR student named Omara Mia Bell Marte. The child was denied access to her classes after she chopped her hair down to promote her natural hair growth. The refusal to allow the 11-year-old access to class based on her curls is nothing short of racist.

Even Contreras has experienced this kind of racism first hand. She shared with BUSTLE that she herself has been turned away from bars and clubs because of her own curly hair.

Still, the entrepreneur plans to continue her fight against this discrimination. To do so, she’s taking her successful business state-side and opening up an all-natural hair salon in New York City.

Twitter / @mmcavanaugh

Much like before, the new shop is opening thanks to Contreras’ savings and a fundraiser. The donation drive earned over $29,000 before it was closed — almost three times as much as her Santo Domingo shop raised. The new Washington Heights shop is set to open sometime in 2020 and will offer a wide array of services for Contreras’ clients.

Besides offering hair care, the entrepreneur wants to give her clients information.

Contreras personalized customer service is especially impressive because she teaches her clientele how to care for their hair and use different products and methods to get different effects. She also works to build a community around natural hair care so that those who visit her shop have support. She wants all women to know they can look good and feel good with their natural hair.

“A lot of people want to look externally for ways to change the world,” Contreras explained to BUSTLE. “Often times the answer to how we can change the world is how we’re living in the world, and what we are doing with our own time and resources, and our existence in the world and our power. When we’re doing what we love and we’re walking in our truth, and we’re living life in a very purposeful way, we can inspire other people. We can change things. I think that has been my secret formula.”

Here’s to hoping that her new NYC shop leads to more salons all over the country. The world can use more of Miss Rizos’s kind of care.

 
 

Netflix’s ‘Gentefied’ Renewed For Season 2, Fans Overjoyed

Entertainment

Netflix’s ‘Gentefied’ Renewed For Season 2, Fans Overjoyed

gentefied / Instagram

Any and all news is welcomed right now and Netflix came through this week. “Gentefied” is coming back for a second season and this is absolutely not a drill. Soon we will be back in Boyle Heights with Ana, Chris, Erik, and the rest of the cast we have come to love so much.

Netflix has confirmed “Gentefied” for a second season.

The show is a fan favorite for Netflix with praise and love pouring in for the groundbreaking show. “Gentefied” is set in Boyle Heights and it is all about the fight against gentrification. The show premiered this year to big fanfare and excitement from Latino Netflix users. The show, created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, was picked up for an eight-episode run of the 30-minute show.

The show is one of the most relevant portrayals of the Latino experience in the 21st century.

The show highlights the plight of gentrification on communities across the U.S. Boyle Heights in Los Angeles has been the center of growing tension as the neighborhood slowly gentrifies. Rising rents have forced some residents and businesses to close and leave because of the changing demographic in the neighborhood.

Hearts are full as everyone celebrates the news of a whole new season.

The show originally premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival as a digital series. Lemus and Chávez debuted the show and it was an instant hit with festival-goers. After three years of waiting, the show was released by Netflix and became a national hit. The show has shone a light on the cost of gentrification for more Americans than knew about it before the show aired.

Low key, it has made for perfect binge-watching during this quarantine.

There isn’t a whole lot any of us can do at the moment. Most of us are at home because of self-isolation and social distancing guidelines designed to save lives during the pandemic. Might as well us some of your time to watch and support and very important moment in our community. This kind of representation is something that Latinos have been asking for.

While excited, some fans want more, like a cross-over with Starz’s “Vida.”

Now, just to be clear, we are not concerned with what it takes to make this happen. Netflix and Starz can come up with the actual plan. We are just going to be here waiting to be heard so we can all have the kind of cross-over the world deserves. Just imagine a chance for those two shows to collide in Latino excellence.

Now we wait for an air date.

We are patient. We will be here when you are ready. All you have to do is let us know when to tune in and you know we are coming through.

READ: I Watched ‘Gentefied’ On Netflix And These Are My Brutally Honest Thoughts

Latino Bookstore In North Carolina Faces Very Uncertain Future Just 6 Months After Opening

Things That Matter

Latino Bookstore In North Carolina Faces Very Uncertain Future Just 6 Months After Opening

epiloguebooksch / Instagram

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a relatively new bookstore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that is facing a very uncertain future. The Latino-owned bookstore opened its doors to the Chapel Hill community six months ago and now COVID-19 is putting their future at risk.

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews is a Latino-owned bookstore in North Carolina that is fighting to survive COVID-19.

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews came from a need that the owners saw in downtown Chapel Hill. A bookshop had recently closed in the area so Jamie and Miranda Sanchez knew that it was time for them to help fill that sudden loss.

“We felt like there was a big hole in downtown,” Jaime told The Daily Tar Heel. “A bookshop creates this whole sense of community for the town so we decided to go forward and try to open our own bookstore.”

The bookstore was serving a community that needed a place to gather and discuss ideas after a former bookstore closed its doors.

“The core of our idea began years ago as the union of Jaime’s heritage and Miranda’s passion for writing and the transportive nature of reading. Wanderers and wonderers, our idea continued to grow in the plazuelas of Mexico and the chocolaterías of Spain, in the plazas of every country where such spaces form quasi-families for both the briefest of moments and the longest stretches of time,” reads the bookstore’s website. “In these spaces, people share everything from decadent chocolate to fried street food, to myth-like tales, to the memories of our own childhood selves chasing pigeons and sucking the sticky droplets from paletas off our hands.”

While the bookstore was well received by the community, the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.

COVID-19 has swept through the U.S. and the number of cases continues to climb. While New York might be seeing fewer cases, the rest of the U.S. is in an uptick. The virus has forced businesses across the country to close or retool to be online only. That is what Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews did to make sure they can weather the storm.

The owners of the bookstore realized they needed to retool their business strategy when students stopped coming back from Spring Break.

“We started adjusting our plans in early March to accommodate for the new lack of traffic,” Jaime told NBC News. “Students weren’t coming back from spring break, so we had originally thought the locals would come out like they did during winter break to take advantage of the lack of downtown traffic, but that obviously didn’t happen because of coronavirus, so we started getting ready to adjust and pivot online for when we’d no longer be able to sustain brick and mortar operations.”

The Sanchezes are keeping their literary dream alive through the pandemic.

“Jaime’s always wanted to open a business and bring a piece of home to it,” Miranda, who is originally from Tijuana, told NBC News. “We felt that continuing that tradition of having a bookstore in the area would be a good mesh, not just of who we are as people but how we want to engage with our community. A community that works to sustain an independent bookshop has certain values.”

Independent bookstores are one of the hardest-hit businesses since readings and events in the spaces have been canceled.

Bookshop started to help struggling independent bookstores weather the storm. COVID-19 has left millions of people without jobs and businesses are having to close permanently because of the virus. Bookshop is giving independent bookstores a chance to survive the closures and social distancing.

Bookstores serve a vital role in communities. They give people a place to gather and share ideas. The easy access to literature can change the lives of children in underprivileged communities but allowing them to see themselves reflected in new lights. They also serve as a place to explore the world around you by flipping open a book cover.

If you have time on your hands and enjoy reading, check out Bookshop and build up that 2020 reading list.

READ: Celebrities Are Reading Children’s Books To Help Parents And Children Cope With COVID-19