What motivates this young entrepreneur with a brilliant future to set up Miss Black Hair Nederland? Who is this Software Engineer, what inspires Sherlon Gerard and why?
Can you introduce yourself for the people who don't know you? What is your name, background and ethnicity?
My name is Sherlon Gerard and I was born and raised in Curaçao. After my HBO Electrical Engineering at the University of the Netherlands Antilles, I decided in 2005 to emigrate to the Netherlands. Here I did my Academic Software Architect training and after working for 3 years decided to start my own sole proprietorship. As a freelancer I provide ICT consultancy services to companies. Now I have been 2 of the 1 founders of Miss Black Hair Netherlands for almost 2 years now.
What was your inspiration to start Miss Black Netherlands, when and what is your goal?
Growing up in Curacao, it was normal for all the women around me to relax or hide their hair with a weave or a wig. As I got older and more aware I started to wonder why these women go out of their way to not look like themselves? What is the reason that natural hair is rocked so little? This was also the reason why I thought that Miss Black Hair Netherlands should be founded. Through this road I want to make a difference and make black women aware of the fact that they are beautiful in their natural state and that it is ultimately about self-acceptance and wearing yourself with pride.
What were the expectations and how did the first election go?
We certainly had positive expectations before the election with regard to the turnout and how it would please the public. At the beginning of the beauty pageant we had to deal with some technical problems. That was a bit of a shame. Once it was up-to-run, our audience could enjoy our dazzling program that we had prepared. Based on the comments, we could conclude that the audience was impressed by the beautiful masses and their performance on stage.
Of course we learned a lot from the first election and our aim is to come back even better.
What is the most challenging thing about setting up such an election for you?
Dealing with such a large group of women together.
And what is the best thing about organizing Miss Black Hair Netherlands?
During the period before the election, I encountered a lot of black entrepreneurs and black-conscious artists.
What is the most important lesson you have learned so far from this event?
That it is up to us, the new generation, to take care of our own growth in awareness. No more thinking that another race is going to help us get on top. They have no interest in that. We now have to look for the knowledge that is necessary for complete self-love and pass it on to the new generation.
Ultimately, the beauty pageant is not about her but about awareness and we use the hair to extend it to identity. After all, hair is more than hair and can say a lot about how you see yourself. We would like people to enter into a dialogue with each other about what hair means to inspire each other to look for complete self-love in addition to being natural. We are beautiful and powerful as we are. If you believe that, you will try harder to be the best version of yourself.
Sherlon and partner
Where do you see MBHN in five years?
In 5 years I want to have my own building where I, together with my team, will organize various educational and fun events, workshops and masterclasses, discussion and film evenings for our black community full-time. Where everything revolves around education, roots and entrepreneurship.
ABOUT FRESH HAIR
Did you grow up thinking you had bad hair? Was it normal to see your mother's natural hair as a child?
I didn't grow up thinking I had bad hair. However, it was regularly said that certain frizzy hair types were "good".
Unfortunately I never got to see my mother's natural hair. My wish is of course that she also makes the choice to wear her hair completely natural. Then my message, which I am trying to send out into the world, has also reached her. That would be really great!
What does your hair mean to you as a man? Is it just hair or is it deeper than that? Does it define your identity?
We at Miss Black Hair NL believe: “I am my hair”. Our hair is part of our identity and is not just hair. It goes deeper than that. Our hair grows in a spiral shape upwards and that means that we are more in touch with nature. Our ancestors used their hair as an antenna to communicate with the divine.
The hair on our head is also directly connected to our soul. For example, “unhealthy hair” is an indication that you are stressed or emotionally/physically not quite OK.
Have you ever relaxed yourself? If not why not and if so how was the experience?
When I was younger, I sometimes relaxed (Duke we call that in Curaçao). I also wanted to have “good hair”. The injuries I sustained last time made sure I never did that again. My hair also became drier and more sensitive.
Have you ever done dreadlocks or cornrows yourself and why did you choose the hairstyle you are wearing now?
I've never had dreadlocks or conrows. I shave everything off now because it's easier. I don't really need to comb or brush in the morning.
Team Miss Black Hair Netherlands with the current Miss Black Hair Netherlands 2015
I hear from many men that they didn't like frizzy hair in the past, but that they learned to like it later. How do you think it happened and was that the case with you too?
That's how I used to be unfortunately. Because I didn't know any better. I was conditioned to think that straight long hair was beautiful. But now I've woken up. Especially the fact that frizzy hair is so versatile makes it even more impressive to me.
Have you ever been ashamed of your frizzy hair or thought that guys with smoother hair had a better chance with women? What was your thinking? Can you explain?
Unfortunately yes. When I was younger I was a bit insecure and my favorite children's series back then was "Saved by the bell". I wanted to have the appearance of “Zack Morris”, the protagonist of that series. I thought that if I had hair like that, I would certainly be popular in school and of course wanted by the ladies. At the time I didn't understand that being popular with the ladies is mainly about self-confidence and being confident.
It was because I was 1) insecure 2) aware of the stigma surrounding frizzy hair.
If you used to be ashamed of frizzy hair, how did that happen and how long did it last?
I wasn't really ashamed of my frizzy hair because almost everyone around me had frizzy hair. During my teenage years, I wanted what they call "good" hair, or less frizzy hair. When I was an adolescent, I had no problem with it anymore. During that time I started to accept myself more and more.
And now the Oprah question: What would you say to yourself right now when you think about that kid who was ashamed of frizzy hair?
You can be proud of the fact that you have frizzy hair. A power greater than myself made the choice 33 years ago to give me frizzy hair. Then and still I am beautiful in His eyes. So be happy with your frizzy hair and wear it with pride.
Now I happen to know that you have a very beautiful sweet friend who is natural and who also helps you organize the election. But how important was having frizzy, natural hair to you in choosing a mate?
That was very important to me. 1) I think frizzy hair is simply beautiful and versatile. 2) I like spontaneity, spontaneously doing fun things like going to a spa center or the beach. If you have straightened hair, it's a bit more difficult to do because you have to take all kinds of things into account. That's why I want a girlfriend who can enjoy life without restrictions as spontaneously as I do. 3) I am “all into” healthy living and eating. Self-love is also very important to me and I expect that in my partner. The moment my partner is busy with heavy chemicals on her head, that would be contrary to self-love.
BlackFollicles.com becomes the amazon for Black Hair Care Products. It is the solution for the limited range of Black hair products. We're crowdfunding to build the marketplace so that people with frizzy and curly hair all over the world really have a place to go to get all kinds of brands of suitable hair products. What do you think of http://blackFollicles.com and which gift would you choose?
She loves dashikis. So I would order dashikis for her.
What else do you hope to see?
More choices for dashiki's J
What can we expect from MBHN this year?
2016 the show will be more spectacular with beautiful masses. This year everything is dominated by the natural Queens, Entertainment, Education, Roots and spectacle. The great messages of the masses make people think and hopefully inspire them too.
About Sherlon Gerard Software Services: http://www.dazzlingstudio.com/
See a report of the first Miss Black Hair Netherlands by Doreen Sprengers from New Media Platform