AFRO ALICE HEBDO – FANM MON OR THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Afro Alice has interviewed this week an exquisite young Haitian woman with natural hair who lives in Turkey and use her gift to create original clothing, accessories, shoes and jewelry.  Read on as you get to know the face behind FANM MON: Sophia.

  • Tell us about you.

I am a woman, mother, wife, lover of life, nature and all living things except mosquitoes. Lol

  • Tell us about Fanm Mon.

Fanm Mon is a brand with a primary focus on handmade designs. The brand offers quality, one of kind products mostly. The designs are extremely original, and capture the attention of a selective few.

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  • Why the name FANM MON?

I wanted something organic that all Haitians would automatically understand once heard. I decided on the name because it felt right. I identify with such women/people of my culture. I was not brought up in a closed zuzufied environment. So growing up in Haiti, I had the opportunity to witness the difference between a woman who had her maids do everything for her, verse the machane promenading the streets with heavy loads on their head in order to take care of everyone, and most of the time, they are not able to take care of themselves. So at a very early age, I deeply embraced such efforts, resilience, and strength. When we talk of a Haitian woman, a Fanm Mon comes to mind for me automatically. History proves that I am right up to this day, lets take a look at Haitian art, it is not the woman going to get her hair and nails done every week that is drawn, rather the ones caring the heavy load, the farmers, those who were not educated in the class room but have been nature’s most attentive students. So Fanm Mon is my attempt to help Haitians to see the value of our people regardless of their back ground. Nomads exist all over the world and are respected for what they have to offer their countries and the world, we need to embrace our own the same.

  • Tell us about your creations.

They are what they are, for who they are meant to be. This is what I love about what I make. I did take the advice of my husband and try to make some clothes that were “regular to most’ but I have decided stick to my calling, Fanm Mon is not about catering to the mass, I prefer its essence to be raw from all aspects. I am not a person who thinks, sees, and live life, like the majority of people on earth, and there are many individuals like me, who would connect to my art. I much prefer to create for myself and such people, not the majority. The designs that are liked by the mass are easy to find, so I will let mine work remain the elephant in the room!

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  • When and why did you return natural?

I have always been natural, entering High School, I wanted a perm so bad, but I mom was against it. When she finally said ok, she permed my hair and allowed me to burn, the feeling of my scalp melting of off my head, was enough for me. From that experience on, I have been either balding my head, or rocking my hair as is. It was not easy in the 90s, imagine in 1994, when all girls wanted to look like Aaliyah, I was walking around with no hair or a fro. Needless to say I had many bad looks, and murmurs, and even being pulled aside by some Haitians advising me, my hair style is not lady-like, lol. My aunts would try to talk me into a perm, but I remained true to myself and I think everyone accepted it after some points. I was not bothered by their dislike, and even at 14,  I was so head strong, my aunts and other neighbors accepted, but considered me the “grin gauche”.

  • How did people surrounding you react to the change?

They could not understand it, but I made it clear it was their issue and not mine.

  • Who were your supporters? Your hairspirations?

In 94? No one. I was my inspiration! My heart would rejoice at the sight of another natural or bald sister, but that was it. It was not so common.

  • What is your current hair regimen?

I used soaps made in turkey by the nomads, and also baby shampoo (rarely). I put aside all of my vegetable/fruit peals, I have lots of aloe vera, cactus, hibiscus, and other plants/herbs that I soak in hot water, for rinse.

  • What are your top 5 products to care for your hair?

None, I use only what I make, I have castor plant in my yard and make my own oil from the green and red plant. In the event I run out, the option would be natural oils from the herbal shops.

  • What do you like most about being natural?

For me it is convenience, by the way, I will say I am not the type who worries much about my hair, I do not put so much time into styling it, I just let it be. I recently cut my hair, and will do a style per month, until I reach the point of balding it, hopefully by July.

  • What do you think about the growing natural hair community in Haiti?

It is wonderful, it is very much needed in our culture, we need to embrace ourselves, natural beauty, and approve our beauty based on our standards and that of our ancestors!

  • A message to the existing, upcoming and potential natural hair community?

To remain true to who you are, do not make temporary decisions based on what is in vogue; embrace yourselves and sisters as we naturally are. Most importantly, be beautiful and natural from within.

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