Chizi

Outfit Details:

Dress: custom made in Nigeria

Shoes: @BCBGeneration

Earrings: purchased in Nigeria

Tell me about your YouTube channel and how you got started making videos. 

“Well I had relaxed hair all my life, and when I was 11 or 12 years old I started to complain to my dad about how my hair wasn’t growing. He was just like ‘well, why don’t you cut it?’ So he actually cut my hair off, and from that point forward my hair started growing out naturally and it was the first time I ever saw my hair in its natural state, so that kind of kick-started my interest in learning about my own natural hair. It was years down the line, in high school, when I actually started my YouTube channel because after watching so many YouTube videos and trying to find girls with hair like mine, I noticed there was a lack of it. So I just thought I should start making videos! And that’s how it all started.”

So what’s it like now running such a successful channel?

“It’s going great now. I’ve been running it since high school but I really started taking it seriously last year. And now I’m at over 100,000 subscribers! It’s really propelled me to a new world that I never even really thought about, considering that I went to college for biology. I was supposed to be in medical school right now, but seeing the response made me realize that there are other avenues out there and I should pursue them. So I am! Thank God for YouTube!”

That’s awesome! So where do you see yourself in five years? Are you still doing YouTube, or do you have other goals/aspirations?

“Well I hope I’m still alive! And in the event that I am I definitely plan on expanding outside of YouTube. I feel like sometimes I’ll pop in on YouTube things but I really want to take it internationally. You know sometimes you can only connect with someone so much through videos, so that person to person connection is way more important, and so I’d like to have workshops, events, and meet–ups…I really don’t know where this whole thing will take me but I hope it takes me far!”

Of course! So what has been your greatest struggle so far?

“Well being a Youtuber, the greatest struggle has been trying to stay myself, and not jeopardizing my integrity for views. Ultimately YouTube is a platform for entertainment, so you’ll see different Youtubers going viral because they’re doing challenges and all these other things that really aren’t me. So just trying to stay true to myself has been a struggle, and also just managing the whole thing. It’s a lot of work! And nobody tells you about it until you kind of just see for yourself. You’re ultimately running a business on your own. So that has to be my greatest struggle with YouTube. As far as being natural, my greatest struggle is growing this hair! Because I’m kind of like a guinea pig since I’m always doing different hairstyles to show other natural girls what they can do with their hair. Since I’m manipulating my hair so much it’s like a sacrifice I have to make. Having natural hair in general, if your hands are always combing it, it’s going to break and not retain as much length. So just accepting that my hair may not get down to my waist since I’m making all these videos has been something I had to realize.”

What would be your biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to start a YouTube channel? 

“You know, it’s funny that I’m in this position now because I remember when I was first starting with YouTube and I reached out to some big-name Youtubers at the time, who were also natural, and I asked them how they did it. They all said ‘find your niche’ and that really has been the most important thing, because YouTube is so saturated now. How do you even set yourself apart? But there’s always something that isn’t shown right now. And it can even be the smallest thing. Even though 4C natural hair isn’t recognized and it’s like a huge deal, it was a small section of natural hair care that was missing on YouTube, and I kind of filled that. That was my lane. And from there you just expand. So ultimately, just find your niche, whatever that is. Whether it’s your nationality, or whatever! And then just be consistent from there. Consistency is really key; once you find your niche you have to be consistent! Two key things right there.”

What has been a significant moment in your life?

“Wow that is a really big question. Okay well I’m going to get deep but… my junior year in college, I found myself really, really sad— damn near depressed. And I couldn’t pinpoint why. All I knew was I didn’t want to go outside; I didn’t want to eat food. Then one of my friends came to me and told me that I was really negative and bringing everyone down, which completely woke me up. I had to wonder was I being a Debbie-downer? And then from that point on, I started thinking about my life again. It’s like I was asleep for that time, I don’t know how to explain it. But I woke up and realized this educational path I was on may not be exactly what I wanted. I started thinking for the first time in a really long time. And from that point on, everything changed for me. My YouTube channel picked up; my grades picked up; everything just picked up!”

What has been your greatest lesson in life?

“I think the greatest lesson has been to never forget where you came from. I think that’s what makes you organic and unique—the situation that you started off in. And that helps me to stay rooted with my YouTube channel as well. I started off wanting to just show girls that they aren’t the only one out there with really thick hair and that there are other kinky-hair girls out there. And our hair is beautiful! Because for a long time I hated my hair. I really used to hate it. So it’s like if you don’t see that representation, you might think there’s something wrong with your hair because it’s not getting views or things like that. So staying rooted in that has been important. After a while I think I kind of forgot why I even made the channel since I’d been on YouTube for so long, and I’d started going into other things. But ultimately remembering why you did something, why you started, is what’s going to keep you going.”

What do you feel most accomplished for in your life so far?

“Well, just being able to inspire girls and guys to love themselves and their hair. I can’t tell you the amount of people that come up to me and say I’m the reason they went natural or the reason they stayed natural, because it was so difficult for them but they saw someone that was doing it and that was embracing their hair. So they persevered too, and that’s been my greatest accomplishment so far. Just being an inspiration to others.”

Well we kind of touched on it earlier, but what would be your best advice for someone wanting to go natural?

“Definitely to just go for it either way. There’s no point in apologizing for being you. Not everyone’s going to get it, and you kind of just have to accept that. I know when I first went natural, it wasn’t even a thing yet since I was in middle school when my dad literally shaved my head bald! I was in the eighth grade— can you imagine that? I just had to embrace myself; there was no hair to hide behind. So you just have to roll with the punches. Yes, people made fun of me. Yes, I got called different names. But after a while, I started to make a joke out of it too! I was like India Arie honey, saying ‘I am not my hair!’ So yeah, just go for it! Embrace yourself and be unapologetically you. Eventually it’ll stick and everyone will love it.”

What is your favorite quote and why?

“So right before I graduated, a good friend of mine had a program on financial literacy and entrepreneurship. A mayor came out and said an interesting and amazing quote that really stuck with me. She was saying that ‘once you start pursuing your passion, after a while it starts to pursue you.’ So basically once you start going for what you want, the universe is going to align and after a certain amount of time you won’t be able to get away from it. You’ll become so successful and start doing what you want to do and you won’t be able to get out of it. Even if you want to quit, you can’t quit any more because you already started this. So I just thought that was an amazing quote because I felt like that’s what happened with me and YouTube.”

IG: @chiziduru

By: Kacie Nelson

Coco Salako