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Happiness in the Curls of My Hair

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

Joy Issue No 5

Photo Credit: Older & Wiser Co.

Most of us have hair on our head, and for those of us that do, we wake up each day trying to figure out what to do with it. Curly headed humans know the struggle of wash day, going through dozens of products until you find the right one and keeping up with a routine to ensure healthy hair.

Getting to the point of finding a routine that works for you is not an easy feat by any means. I didn’t really start my curly hair journey until I was 18, and I’m 23 now. Embracing my curly hair wasn’t something that was instilled in me from a young age. When I was little my mom would put my hair into pigtails with the little barrettes at the end, even braids or twists. But as I got older, we fell into this pattern of straightening my hair. Like clockwork every Sunday my sister and I would have a wash day; first blow dry then a pass with the iron and that would have to last for the week. I didn’t think anything of it until I was in high school and saw people with healthy curls that weren’t fried by the iron. They had shiny and bouncy coils growing out of their heads! I wanted that. Through my journey I have learned that I am not alone in the struggle of figuring out how to take care of curly hair.

I recently had the delight of visiting Nourish Salon in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A black-owned, women-owned salon that focuses on not only nurturing and nourishing hair but also nurturing the person attached. The owner Markiana, specializes in all hair types including curly hair. Having had bad experiences in the past with people that didn’t know how to style and cut curly hair I was definitely nervous but the care and intentionality that was put into my visit made me feel at ease even before I sat in her chair. Before even having the appointment, I had a chat with Markiana on the phone about my current hair routine and products I used, also what my hair goals were and how she could help me achieve that. Once appointment day came, I knew I was in good hands.

Photo Credit: Kevin Santiago

Curious about Markiana’s passion and drive behind hair care and her business I called her to learn more. Growing up African American and Puerto Rican but being more connected to her African American side she was no stranger to the woes of curly hair. Through her own trials and tribulations, she realized she had a gift for styling hair and began to pursue her career in high school. While attending J.P. McCaskey High School. Markiana enrolled herself into their cosmetology program and graduated high school along with a certificate for cosmetology. She began working in her field straight out of high school and had begun to build a clientele base that was largely women of color. Even from a young age she was determined to nurture and nourish each of her clients and help them achieve their hair goals.

Although my session with Markiana was amazing and seamless, not every curly person has the same level of trust with stylists and rightfully so. Markiana says that every woman that comes into her salon is coming with a story and sometimes they have tears in their eyes before they can get it out. ‘‘I had one client that came in and I sat with her in the lobby area for a half hour because she was so afraid of what might happen in the seat. And that is usually the case with most curly haired women.’’ She says that there is so much anxiety and fear wrapped around our hair that it makes sense for people, women especially, to be hesitant about getting curly hair services.

Photo Credit: Kevin Santiago

It’s no surprise that women have this sort of reaction when they are getting something new done to their hair, hair in our culture is so highly regarded as a symbol of femininity and beauty. The way it looks matters, and if you don’t feel confident with your hair it can change the way you view yourself in the world. Markiana said her goal with Nourish Salon is to create ease for women, ‘‘It’s honestly not that complicated, I just think people are misinformed.’’

Not only is an appointment with Markiana nourishing to you and your hair, it’s also educational (but the fun kind). Throughout the session Markiana helps give a diagnosis of your hair, what’s working what’s not, what products would work best and what to do to maintain optimal hair health. She teaches you everything you need to know about your hair and how to best maintain it. She’s also great about answering any questions that you might have. I’m pretty sure during my session I listed every product I had at home to see whether or not I should continue using it. There is no need to keep spending money on something that isn’t working. She also was great about explaining every step of the session, from products to the intention behind the methods she was using, and the results were amazing!

As I was recounting my experience of our session during our call, I was curious about why she decided to start Nourish Salon instead of continuing to work out of other salons, her response was moving, and her story was familiar and something I knew all too well. She said growing up she didn’t even realize her hair was curly for a long time, she just thought it was fuzzy. Between both of her cultures she would see her Hispanic family members with looser textured hair and remembered seeing her African American side relaxed silky-smooth hair. “As a child I wanted smooth, straight hair, I didn’t want this halo of fuzz around my hair.”

Her hair journey after that was on and off relaxing with minimal to no professional haircuts or trims. But her interest in hairstyling was piqued by her aunt who attended cosmetology school. By the age of 14, Markiana was the hairstylist to her friends and family members of all different textures. Her hope was to recreate that feeling of community and love with her own salon. I’m giving all the flowers to Markiana because she has truly achieved this with Nourish Salon. Any curly haired person knows the struggle of finding a safe environment for our curls. Markiana and I both related to having people comment on the texture of our hair and say it was “nappy” or a “bush” but really it was just curly.

Photo Credit: Older & Wiser Co.

Overall, my time at Nourish Salon was a wholesome, rejuvenating and unique experience. I appreciated Markiana for imparting all her wisdom, her warm and welcoming energy and for being a fellow introvert and being comfortable with silence here and there. Also, it was a very affirming experience as an Afro-Latina who hadn’t ever had my curly hair done professionally, it was a spiritual experience to have someone care for my hair and let me know how to better take care of it. I am constantly learning about myself and sitting in Markiana’s chair helped me to better understand my hair.

In the future, Markiana is hoping to expand her brand, clientele and employment. In 2021, Nourish Salon celebrated its one-year anniversary! A huge feat for anyone who opened a brick-and-mortar business during the pandemic. Currently,

Markiana is the owner, stylist, social media manager and receptionist at the salon, among other things. Her hope is to bring more nurturers into the space and expand the Nourish Salon family.

Follow Nourish Salon on Instagram

Listen to the full interview on The Brown Girl Chronicles Podcast Curly Crown Up's and Down's by The Brown Girl Chronicles (

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