Leanna Newman, 39, HR Business Partner

"I have been on my natural hair journey since 2014, and up until then, I'd always hot pressed or relaxed my hair. I was heavily influenced to relax my hair by my then boyfriend sister because she told me because it was cool and had straight hair. Being that I was a lot younger than her, I was influenced by her, peers and society and its perceptions of prettiness. I was 19 at the time.

I was on a journey of real self-discovery in 2014 around a lot of things, one being why I was relaxing my hair and conforming to societies ideals of what is to be beautiful. But when I started my natural hair journey, it was quite funny because people or people's reaction to your hair choice I found can be very strong opinionated! Some loved it some hated it; a person once told me a looked like a boy when I had a baby afro!

I had a few friends that were also on a natural journey too, so when I was struggling with it, due to opinions, not knowing how to handle the transition period, style it, lack of confidence or pressure in the media regarding images of what beauty looks like. I leaned on them for support and style tips! One of them said Leanna 'youtube' is your friend!

This led me to think about the impact of the little/young people around me. What if they were not embracing their natural hair and just how I looked up to my boyfriend's sister at the time they are looking up to me! This was the profound reason I stuck it out and have grown to love and be proud of my hair as comes out my head!

Learning how to care for my hair again took a lot of trial and error but like I love passing that information and learning to anyone who will listen! So it's 2018, and I am so excited to have this opportunity to work with Project Embrace around the representation of black women and Afro hair and increase the Afrovisibility! I am PROUD to showcase the beautiful textures and versatile nature of our crown and glory."

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