Locally based T Love B Boutique is a wonderful online shop of handcrafted unique cards, most of which are one of a kind. These are not your ordinary greeting cards; they are made from the heart.
T Love B cards are meticulously embellished with colorful ribbons, buttons, decorative paper and more. Some even come with envelopes that are just as decorative as the cards themselves. The shop consists of invitations, thank you cards, ‘just because’ cards, note cards and post cards, as well as gift tags. T Love B Boutique also creates custom orders for weddings, birthdays and other events.
Below, the creator of T Love B Boutique, Latifahia Brown, shares her hair story and the story behind her taking a break from teaching to follow her dream.
Hair story …
I guess growing up I loved my hair, but I didn’t really appreciate it until now. My hair journey goes like this: I got my first relaxer around the age of 5 or 6 years old and my hair was gorgeous. It was nice and hanging down my back, I got a lot of compliments when my hair was long.
So throughout my life, I decided that relaxers were the best way to go because that was all that I was accustomed to.
I never thought I would go natural, I just thought it wasn’t my style and I thought you had to be afrocentric to rock a natural hair style. Pretty much — I didn’t think it would look right on me.
So a few days after my 28th birthday, I dislocated my big toe, which caused major issues like a future blood clot in the same leg. When I was going through surgery I had anesthesia, so they could operate on me.
So, how does it pertain to my hair?
Well, when I went to my beautician to get my hair relaxed, she and the shop were very hesitant to put the relaxer in my hair because of the effects of the anesthesia and the chemicals of the relaxer.
I was devastated because my hair was a hot mess, and it was time to get the kinks out. So we decided just to get my hair pressed for a couple of months.
As my hair was growing into its natural self, it started to compete with the relaxed hair, which made it more difficult for me to manage on my own. Also while I was going through this transition, it happened to be that all of my friends had natural hair, which helped me to be more informed of what it was to truly be natural, so I started to do research again.
As I was researching natural hair, I started to have some issues with my throat and my stomach, so I went to the doctor again and they said they wanted to do an endoscopy of my throat. As they did the procedure, I had another dose of anesthesia. So, this was a set back from me getting another relaxer.
So at this point my beautician was encouraging me — in a couple of months when the anesthesia wears off — to either 1) go natural because my natural hair was battling the relaxed hair, or 2) get a relaxer.
My hair at this point was as short as a bob. I struggled with the decision, and I was scared because it is not in my character to do anything drastic as a big chop.
Still, during this time, my natural friends and my husband surrounded and supported me.
Finally one day, I was taking my students on a field trip to the park. That day I had my hair in curls so it could blend my relaxed hair with my natural hair. To say the least by the end of the field trip with the humid weather, the curls were gone and my hair looked a hot mess.
After I left the school, I went immediately to my friend’s house because I was fed up. I was scared to do the big chop, but I couldn’t look a hot mess anymore. She ended up encouraging me that maybe this is the time to do the big chop, and I knew deep down in my heart that it was time.
So the next morning I was talking to my husband to make sure he would be okay with me doing the big chop (which I had been discussing with him the whole time I was going through the process). At this point he was so fed up with discussing the issue, he said just do it, I will support you either way.
So I made the call to my beautician and she said it was about time. So I did my big chop on May 2010 with 8 months of new growth.
What a liberating experience! I felt wonderful and this was the best decision I have made for my hair.
I will never turn back to relaxed hair. Going natural has brought out more of my confidence and more of my creative side.
Advice to those contemplating going natural …
I would recommend those that are going natural to really do your research. I did a lot of my research with friends that were natural, just simply asking them how they take care of their hair or maybe what were some of the downfalls of being natural.
I also recommend talking to natural hair beauticians as well. As I was contemplating going natural, a couple of the beauticians in the beauty shop were either natural or going natural.
Another thing that really helped me out was watching Kimmaytube and Nikkimae2003 on YouTube. Kimmaytube really educates people on natural hair and how to keep it healthy. There is a whole natural world out there on YouTube.
If you have a significant other, ask how they would feel about you doing the big chop. Throughout this whole process, I involved my husband because he has to look at me every day, and knowing that he supported me helped me a great deal.
The inspiration behind T Love B Boutique …
Growing up I had always been creative. I have always loved paper and I did not quite know why. When I see decorative paper, I am instantly filled with joy. When I see decorative bags, I want to hold on to them for dear life.
My full-time career was in teaching and going to graduate school in Chattanooga, Tenn. So you can probably tell that all of my time and creativity went into my classroom lessons. This really tore me up inside.
The same friend that educated me about being natural was the same friend that loved scrapbooking and arts/crafts.
I started to do wedding planning/coordinating/decorating, graduation invitations, pillows, and “just because” cards. I eventually started making more time to do arts/crafts. Years later, my husband got a job as a youth pastor in Baltimore, so we were moving. As we were getting things packed for the move, I ended up making cards for all the people at the church that invested in me and my husband’s life.
As I was handing out cards to them, they were amazed by my gift and asked, “Did you make this?” A lot of them were in ministry and told me that I should sell the cards. I didn’t even think to sell my cards. Also, a friend who loved my flower hair accessories that I used in my natural hair told me that I should open an online boutique with my cards and hair accessories. At the same time, my little sister and her boyfriend were encouraging me to do the same.
So the idea was put in my head, but I didn’t think it was possible. My husband and I moved. But on the way to Baltimore, we stopped by my brother’s house to spend Christmas.
On Christmas Day, I ran into etsy.com. I had never heard of this site. I immediately fell in love with it because other people on there shared my passion for handmade items from the heart. I felt that it was a revelation from the Lord, especially since I would not have a job immediately when we got to Baltimore.
Once I told my family of this, my sister, her boyfriend and I brainstormed for a name, and this is how “T Love B” Boutique came about. My nickname is T and I love Brown (my married name). I also love doing a lot of my cards from brown cardstock, and I love buttons. So “B” can stand for a lot of my creativity. It was catchy.
Again, I have always been creative, but I didn’t know what direction to take with it until I was in the process of moving to Baltimore, Md.
None of this could have happened without the guidance of Jesus Christ.
What the future holds for T Love B Boutique …
Well, I pray that the Lord continues to bless my shop with customers and people that appreciate handmade items from the heart.
I would love to add more things that I love to do such as pillows, wedding/graduation/birthday invitations, hair accessories for natural hair, aprons, and more and more cards.
T Love B Boutique
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