My name is Nana Nicole Forson. My parents are from Ghana, West Africa.
I go by Nicole Walters because Nicole worked in the business sphere. It’s my first issue as a Brown girl that I had where I go in and I say my name is Nana and they’re like, “Ha! Is that your real name?” So, I ended up going by Nicole.
I’m a Ghanaian, 100%. I’m a true “African-American” if you will. My parents are from Africa, but I was born in Washington, DC. I don’t say African-American because I feel like there is some ownership there that isn’t mine because there are Black Americans. That’s how an African describes people who call themselves African-American in the US, as Black American.
I don’t mind using the name Nicole and Walters is my married name. There’s a lot of weight that goes with a name Nana, from my background to my history. There’s a lot of pride there too. I’ve never stopped being Nana. But that name, that person – I wouldn’t say she’s around. I’ve stepped into Nicole. Nicole’s natural. Naptural Nicole is my blog. It’s my brand. That’s who I am, so I own it and I’m totally fine with that. I’ve thought about changing my name officially to become Nicole Walters because that’s whom I lived and that’s who I am every single day. But, there’s something to be said for the fact that my government name is Nana because I still do have some pride when I write it out.
Growing up, I didn’t have my own confidence, but I didn’t have negative experiences until my teens, which is normal. My background is actually different as a distinctly dark skinned girl. I went to all White private schools. I was one of like 4 kids in Washington, DC in these all White private schools. So, race was not talked about because it was like, “We’re going to go out of our way to make sure that we’re not offensive”. So, I literally didn’t even engage. I wasn’t even aware that there were shades of brown until I was probably 15.
It wasn’t even relevant. It didn’t even come up because everybody [in school] was White. There were only four Black kids and we were all actually, coincidently, dark brown. So, it just never even occurred to me that there was light skin, dark skin, or that one let alone, was considered better than the other in society. It was never an issue until I was like 15 or 16. The first colorism issue I experienced actually came from Black people, which was shocking and disappointing and confusing.
I have three foster kids and they’re all three brown girls of different shades.
The youngest one is very, very fair skinned. She looks like she could be Josh and I’s daughter because she looks mixed (my husband is white). My oldest one is dark skinned. And my middle one is in between. They’re literally 3 girls, 3 different hair textures, and 3 different shades. So, it’s important for me to reinforce that they’re all beautiful in their own right.
I’d just gone to a boarding school for gifted inner-city youth with aptitudes. I had people throw stones at me and call me charcoal and that baffled me. For the first time in my school life, I dealt with colorism. I literally didn’t understand it. It’s funny because the dorm parents were White, so when I told the White dorm parents that the students were calling me charcoal, they were like, ‘Ok’. They didn’t even get it. I told my parents that they called me charcoal and my parents didn’t get it either because they’re African. I mean, in Africa, there’s colorism, but they really didn’t understand the teasing. They were like, “Why? Aren’t they Black too”?
Fortunately, because I didn’t understand the why, I didn’t absorb it to mean much about me, if that makes any sense. And I just kept it moving because I didn’t get it, so I didn’t let it impact me.
One time, someone shouted at me in Target that Instagram was a lie because they saw me in my bonnet. She was like, “I’m sorry, are you Nicole”? I always try to say that I’m not. Sometimes I try to say that I’m one of my blogger friends. But, people will be like, “Oh no, you’re Nicole, you’re Nicole”! This one girl was really upset. She was like; “Instagram is a lie” because I didn’t look like my photos on Instagram, which is surprising because I post plenty of busted photos. Plenty.
I go out of my way to make sure that at least one out of every seven photos is me with no makeup on and an ashy face, just because I’m like, this is the real. Everything else is just an upgrade.
How I uplift myself? I think that 30 is just a magical number. When you turn 30, you just stop caring in a way. I think that when I got to that age, I was like my life has to be bigger than the sort of the shallow, material things of looking good and being told that I’m pretty. It has to be more that that, and whatever it is that means more to me, that’s what I need to focus on.
I’m married. I’ve got kids. I’ve got a business. I’ve got a house. I’ve got a life. If whatever someone’s saying is not going to infringe or jeopardize those things, I really have to consider how much stock and weight I’m going to put into it. So, if someone says, “I don’t think you’re pretty”, it’s like okay, does that affect my coin? Because if not, then I’m good.
I think being an entrepreneur is something that you are from birth. I think that when you are someone that always has trouble with authority and the regular constructs of society, when you’re always thinking outside of the box, when you’re always saying there’s got to be a better way and I think I’m going to be the person to do it, then you’re probably born to be an entrepreneur.
I started blogging for me, which is the reason why everyone should start. You should always start because it’s something you love or because it’s your passion because you’ll never run out of things to write about. My blog was my whole hair journey. But then, very quickly, I realized that I was getting kind of competitive about it because that’s my nature too. I was interested in getting out there and making a difference and seeing faces.
It started getting to the point where my 9 to 5 job calls made me feel like, ‘Ugh’. It felt like it was interfering with my real life. That’s when I said ‘Enough is enough’. I basically told myself that for 5 years, I’m going to work on my own brand and work for myself. If I fail, I can still go right back to the corporate world and no one will even know. I basically said ‘Let me give myself 5 years of my whole entire life to do my best for me.’ That’s it. Just 5 years.
I feel like if there’s anything that any girl should ever walk away with – Brown, White, blue, or purple – it’s that they should tell themselves every morning is that they’re worthy and that they deserve to be here and that they have worth. When you know that you have worth, when you know that you are about something, that you came from something great, your confidence is unbreakable.
That’s what beauty is. It’s that air of confidence and you don’t have to pay it. You can decide tomorrow that that’s what’s going to be for you. So, if there’s anything else, if there’s anything that I want people to know, it’s that they have worth. That’s what I teach with Monetize Thyself, Naptural Nicole – no matter what, your worth is in you being you 100%.