Sisters Cipriana Quann and TK Wonder live and work in New York City. They are not just sisters, though. They are identical twins with one very defining feature: their amazing hair.
Indeed, their natural hair had always set them apart from other girls. Growing up, the twins were always encouraged to embrace their locks. In fact, they were taught that it’s the unusual features that make a person beautiful.
In a 2015 interview with Marie Claire, the twins described the kinds of things curious people used to ask them. The pair had to answer queries like, “How do you hold your head up with all that hair?”, “Is that all yours?” and “Are those dreadlocks?” That kind of thing could get to you after a while.
However, the twins admitted that they weren’t offended by the questions. As they got older, though, they were subject to the usual teenage pressures of wanting to fit in with their peers. So they began straightening their hair.
It was Cipriana in particular who struggled with her image, especially after becoming a model in the fashion industry. There was no doubt that she was beautiful, but she found the industry challenging.
Although her hair was one of her defining features, she was often asked to change it. In a 2017 promotional video for the fashion house Kenneth Cole, Cipriana described the negative way people used to talk about her hair.
Sometimes she was told that her hair wasn’t “commercially beautiful.” Other times people would say that it wasn’t appropriate for whatever shoot she had been hired for. She referred to it as “a struggle” to constantly hear these kinds of comments.
In 2015 Cipriana even told Cosmpolitan that she was “beginning to actually hate my hair and seeing it as a huge obstacle.” She indicated that she wasn’t able to express herself properly when she altered her locks. Clearly, something had to change.
And that’s when she quit the modeling world. After all, she hadn’t been happy working in that arena for some time. And the best part? Once she quit, she completely embraced her natural hair and decided to never straighten it again.
She got together with a friend, Nikisha, who had been bullied about her natural hair too. In fact, Nikisha’s treatment at the hands of school bullies forced her to try and straighten her hair to look like other girls.
So Nikisha and Cipriana decided to turn their pain into something positive and got to work on a new project. After all, they were the perfect people to start up a blog designed to “support, encourage and highlight the multi-faceted lives of women of color.”
They named the blog “Urban Bush Babes.” Cipriana’s twin, TK Wonder, became a musician, but later she too became part of the blog. Together, the women created an online space to share valuable tips on all things fashion, lifestyle and, most importantly, hair.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan, TK said the blog was all about “breaking down stereotypes and derogatory perceptions that people had about natural hair.” She described the unfair “stigma” around people who simply let their hair be.
When asked what the main aim of the blog was, Cipriana had a great answer. She said the pair wanted to create a platform for women of color that would “encourage women to be themselves, no matter how different or weird it might seem. We wanted to tear down those labels and encourage women to be themselves.”
And since its conception in 2011, Urban Bush Babes has become a hugely successful blog, with around 350,000 visitors every week. Its editor-in-chief Cipriana alone has over 110,000 Instagram followers too. And the girls have been featured in big-name titles such as Vogue and Glamour.
Urban Bush Babes has been spreading the positive message that each person’s hair is unique and that’s okay. Indeed, the founders believe that it forms an intrinsic part of us. “Your hair should kind of be an extension of showing your personality a bit, so be fun with it,” Nikisha told Cosmopolitan.
As well as encouraging others to embrace their natural beauty, Nikisha also had some practical advice for hair care. She warned against using any product with too many chemicals in it. Instead, she advised followers to use natural oils.
Cipriana took the Cosmopolitan interview as a chance to expel some myths about hair belonging to women of color as well. Although some people might think that their hair doesn’t grow, she said this was a “misconception.” She encouraged readers to just “be patient” and refuse to be defined by their hair.
As a result of their hard work, the girls have become celebs in their own right. Regularly featured in fashion magazines, both twins also often pop up in Vogue’s “Best Dressed” list. And they’ve been involved in numerous campaigns with various fashion brands that all want a slice of the Urban Bush Babes.
Some people are defeated by negative experiences that life throws at them – but not these girls. They’ve created something amazing that has inspired thousands of other women to do something very important: embrace their natural beauty.