When it comes to blogging, we have some in our midst that have been doing it for a really, REALLY long time. One of the biggest out there is Patrice Grell Yursik, creator of the super-popular Afrobella. Patrice is considered one of the biggest names in the Internet game when it comes to beauty blogging, and one of those at the forefront of the natural hair movement. Not only is she a pioneer and a strong advocate for accepting your own special beauty, but she’s an incredible friend.
Riding a wave of incredible success means staying true to yourself even more. From music in the shower to looking yourself in the mirror, this is how Patrice does it:
On how Afrobella came to be…
“I got started because of a friend of mine who was very into buying domain names for money. I used to have this very social home in Miami where I would cook for all our post-college friends, and he would tell us about his business I was working for the newspaper at the time and writing things for other people that weren’t making me happy, and one day he asked why I didn’t have a blog where I wrote about all the things I cared about since I was writing about a bunch of things I didn’t care about all day long. We talked through a bunch of ideas that night, and on August 13, 2006, Afrobella was born. The concept was simple: natural hair, plus-sized fashion, and beauty for women of color; all the things I couldn’t find consistently in magazines. It’s now eight years old, and will turn nine this August.”
So, how would she describe what she does?
“I consider myself a writer and a full-time blogger. Even before blogging, I was a writer and worked as the editor of my own section of a newspaper. I positioned myself as a writer even before the blog came along. I know a lot of bloggers state themselves as one or the other, but I believe we’re actually both.”
On being considered an “OG” beauty blogger in the natural hair space…
“It means a lot to be considered one of the pioneers of the natural hair space. It amazing to be at the forefront of a movement and watch it grow and expand into something even bigger than you could have ever imagined. In 2006, the natural hair movement was fragmented into Internet forums where we were all looking for a reflection of ourselves. It’s an honor to have been one of the first to offer a space where people can see themselves reflected back positively and speak about those topics on a consistent basis. I meet so many young bloggers who tell me they got started because of me, and I really cherish it. It means a great deal. In the end, I’m just trying to do good work.”
On staying connected to her creativity…
“It’s a struggle sometimes. I feel like my consistency waned a bit last year. [The blog has] become so much more than I ever thought it would be. It’s evolved from being home testing products more often to hosting events, doing speaking engagements, and becoming a media personality. It’s a lot of rising to the occasion. Finding balance in all of that can be a struggle for me; I went from being purely creative to becoming a businessperson. I have to effortlessly occupy spaces to which I’m not accustomed. It keeps me creative in different ways, but it can really stress the writing. I find that writing is like building muscle, which the more you use it — and make time to use it — the stronger it gets.”
On when she feels her most beautiful….
“When I’ve just gotten out of the shower. I have this whole ritual where I listen to music, sometimes a scrub, adding body oils, etc. But that moment right when I’m done, when I look myself in the mirror and I feel clean, radiant and ready… that’s when I feel my most beautiful. I’m ready to face whatever may come. Even before the makeup, that’s when I feel my best.”
Ok, so let’s talk favorite products…
“I love a rich, dense body wash. I’ve been loving the Olay body washes, and I love Dove and SheaMoisture as well. I’m also obsessed Soap & Glory; I love everything they make: face washes, body wash, body butter – their stuff is quality. I love some of the independent brands, like Organic Bath Company and Belle Butters, which is based out of Ferguson, MO. Her stuff is really good. Whatever I love from testing finds a permanent home in my routine.
I have three Mario Badescu cleanses on heavy rotation right now: Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Acne Facial Cleanser, and I use Orange Cleansing Soap on my back to get rid of ‘bacne.’ My husband Steve and I fight over Kiehl’s Since 1851 Oil Eliminator Deep Cleansing Exfoliating Face Wash for Men. Why does that have to be just for men? I disagree with that.
When it comes to makeup, I still really like everything M∙A∙C does, and I love NARS; they make amazing, luxurious products that I enjoy products. I also really love CoverGirl – I use a lot of their lipsticks and mascaras in my kit when I travel. I also love Urban Decay eyeliners: 24/7, the All-Nighter and the Ink For Eyes Waterproof Precision Pen. I love the look of a good strong cat eye, but I’m not good with liquid liner so I tend to go for a felt tip-type situation, and I really love Urban Decay for that. I also think Benefit has amazing products. I like their mascara; I just wish they had stronger pigments in their products. I also love makeup targeted to women of color, like IMAN and Black Opal, which I think is a brand most people don’t use as much as they could. I also love Milani Cosmetics.
Fragrance? I’m obsessed with Giorgio Armani Si right now; it’s so warm. Annie from Blogdorf Goodman described it as “warm and snuggly,” and that’s exactly how it makes me feel. The dry down on it is sensual and it’s great. I’m also surprisingly into Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb after hearing how so many women just loved it. I didn’t think I’d like it, but I’ve been really pleasantly surprised. “
On what she does to relax with an non-stop schedule…
‘I have a schedule that can be really overwhelming, so I know that when I feel that way it’s time to peel myself back. I have to put the phone and computer down and get away from the constant stimulation and panic. I’ve been forcing myself to charge my phone in a different room so I’m not rolling over in the middle of the night and looking at my phone. It’s too easy to stay plugged in 24/7 and not recognize that there are consequences to that. For me, I like staying in and cooking a delicious, healthy meal instead of ordering something in that won’t be as good for me. I’ve been using the Skinnytaste Cookbook a lot; the book is SO GOOD. I take time on the weekend to come up with a menu, and it changes all the time. I did Trinidadian Palau for the SuperBowl and it was really good. Last night, I made the recipe for Rustic Italian Gnocchi Soup. I like hearty food that will make me feel good but isn’t going to be too heavy.”
On what makes her happy…
“I’ve been very happy in my home lately. We worked really hard last year and bought our first apartment, so the practice of just being home and nesting has been good. I’ve found that when I’m really stressed out, I start cleaning my home. It’s a productive way to relieve stress. Also, travel makes me happy. I love escaping everything. We went out to Big Sur on a great vacation, and even though exploring the woods kind of freaks me out sometimes, it was really cool and wonderful. I’ve also gotten into journaling recently, which has been great.”
Any advice for self-acceptance?
“I think it’s a very individual journey. What worked for me to realize my beauty may not be something that works for everyone else. But at the time, we all have to get to the same point in our journey: you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and like what you see. You need to know you’re a beautiful person inside and out, and however you get there, get there.”
Patrice Grell Yursik of Afrobella photographed in New York City, November 2014. All photos: Kristin Booker. All rights reserved.