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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chatting with Erika Parker-Smith, author of Miya's Hair Day

I love Kindred, The Family Soul. The husband and wife duo behind Focsi reminds me of the singers.
J. Phillip and Erika Smith

Focsi (pronounced Fox-cee) is comprised of J. Phillip and Erika Smith. The artistic team likes to challenge and display traditional standards of beauty and feminine strength/power with a twist in an unexpected, thoughtful, and celebratory way. I met this couple at the Taliah Waajid Natural Hair Show in Atlanta. When I saw the book, Miya's Hair Day, all I could think was --where was this book when my niece was a baby? Erika wrote the book and J. Phillip did the illustrations. Erika spoke to me about the book and Focsi.
Drawing by J. Phillip Smith


What gave you the inspiration to write Miya's Hair Day

My inspiration for writing Miya's Hair Day came from several places. The first being our daughters, and my weekly, sometimes daily, adventure in hair with her. She is three years old and would rather do anything except get her hair done.
The second inspiration was the struggle that many girls and women have accepting themselves, and at times their natural hair, or just simply themselves. I figured why not write a poetic reminder that: You Are Beautiful Just As You Are! or YABJAYA (pronounced Yab-j-eye-uh). 

Why do you think it's important for little girls to have books with characters who look like them? 
Little girls growing up seeing images they can relate to and look them helps to build healthy self-esteem and a positive self image while they are young. 
Lack of self love or low self-esteem leads most women to make challenging life choices. Many of us heal, grow, learn to love ourselves, and build our self-esteem later in life; we figured let's encourage girls and build them up early,and hopefully one person avoids those particular pitfalls. Life has challenges, but it doesn't have to be those challenges.

 You and your husband work together, what is that like? 
Focsi (pronounced Fox-cee) was our first baby seven  years ago! Working together is rewarding, challenging, and fun. We know each others' strengths and we compliment each other well!
Our love for each other, our passion for what we do, and being in sync definitely gets reflected in our work. 

 What has the response to your book been like? 

The response to the book as been all love! We are really pleased with the feedback we've gotten thus far. Women tell us the story describes perfectly "hair day" in their homes. Some say it conjures memories of "hair day" in their childhoods and hair struggles with their own mothers.

Other responses affirmed our goal and mission to reach out to girls; especially when we hear stories of little girls wanting "straight yellow hair" or simply hating their curls and kinks. The more positive images we create, the more people see them, and accept that beauty comes in all forms; we can all shine like the stars we were born to be!
How can readers follow you online?

Readers can follow us online at:

Twitter: FocsiMama

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