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I recently discovered a very cool app for iPhones and iPads! It is called the “Big Hair” App by Girl Team Mobile. The app is actually a story about a young girl named Effie Monroe who has natural hair but is not too fond of how HUGE her kinky hair is. Throughout the story, Effie encounters several characters and by the end of the tale she learns to love and accept her tresses. It is a great story for young girls who are struggling to accept their kinky manes as well as adults. I got an opportunity to interview the founder of Girl Team Mobile, Arynetta Floyzelle Northcutt, about the app as well as her natural hair journey.
Founder, Arynetta Floyzelle Northcutt
What inspired you to create www.girlteammobile.com and the Big Hair app? What goal do you want to achieve with your company? Girl Team Mobile grew organically from my decision to self-publish Big Hair. Big Hair actually started out as a poem. I was at Barnes and Noble Cafe at the Grove treating myself to a latte and perusing books when I saw a beautiful little girl with what appeared to be her mother. The little girl appeared to be multi-cultural. In a flash a poem came to me about a little girl who is not comfortable with her hair because it’s different from her friends. I pulled out a little yellow notepad and started writing, and in an hour I had the girl’s entire journey to loving that which makes her different. That’s how my main character, ‘Effie’, and the Big Hair story was born.
Once I finished the poem, I knew I had a children’s picture book there. I had met an artist about a year earlier who I knew would bring Effie to life named Shawnte Hicks. Though most publishing houses prefer that writers don’t submit with illustrations, I believed in Shawnte’s work, and went ahead and had Big Hair illustrated. One of the printing houses I was researching to self-publish the book had an e-book department (formatting for Nook, iBook, Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch). I loved how the iOS (Apple Mobile System) was able to customize the reading experience and thought it could be great for Big Hair, so I went for it and I am so happy I did!
My goal for Big Hair and Girl Team Mobile is to encourage African-American and multi-cultural girls to love their hair and start a movement of all children embracing that which makes them different. It is my intention that Big Hair entertains and uplifts as it educates.
How long have you been natural? Have you always embraced your natural hair? I have been natural three years now and love it! I had a relaxer since I was about 12, and just grew to believe that it was a necessity. But after getting a few bad perms and my hair and scalp becoming fried, I decided enough was enough. The good thing is both my sisters and three close friends had gone natural by that point, so I had some amazing role models.
The funny thing is that at the same time I wrote Big Hair, I was transitioning away from getting relaxers; so, many of the frustrations that Effie was going through in the book, I was experiencing again in re-learning the natural texture of my hair! Relaxed or natural, the hair journey is certainly a personal one… in this sense I hope adult woman relate to the story of Effie, and that Big Hair encourages them to embrace their own individual fabulousness as well.
How have young girls and women responded to the Big Hair app? The response has been amazing. Girls of all cultures and ages have related to Effie; she’s such a fun, fabulous and inquisitive protagonist.
One girl pointed to her hair and said with so much pride “I have Big Hair!” then she pointed to mine and said, “You have Big Hair!” then she pointed to another girl and said “She has Big Hair!” all of our hair was very different textures, but we were all women of African decent. It felt like she was using ‘Big Hair’ as a synonym for ‘beautiful hair.’ That warmed my heart!
I’ve been getting a positive response from those outside of the African-American community, as well. Many Caucasian and Latino woman have approached me and said ‘My daughter wants her hair to be straight, she doesn’t like it curly, I’m so glad you wrote this book, this is a story she can relate to.”
Can you explain some of the cool features of the app? My favorite feature is that when you touch Effie’s hair it shakes. I think that is so cute. As we know, our hair can sometimes feel as though it has a life of it’s own! There is a wonderful feature where you can record your own voice or the voice of your child reading the story. And, there are three different play modes: Read to Me – where the book reads to you while you interact with the features; Read to Myself – which allows you to read the book and enjoy the interactive elements; and, Autoplay – where the book plays like an animated story.
Where can it be purchased? Big Hair can be purchased in the Apple iTunes App Store: