The creation of Project Naptural and true ‘hairitage’

The creation of Project Naptural and true ‘hairitage’

The creation of Project Naptural and true ‘hairitage’
March 02
20:02 2016

Kaylen Howard | Staff Writer

@TheKaylenHoward

Project Naptural creator Terresa Hardaway, 30, doesn’t need a typical office—she makes do with an isolated adjunct computer lab and a steel gate separating her from a large technology control system.

Siting at a table with an open Mountain Dew on one side and her laptop on the other, Hardaway uses her free time to organize her calendar before heading out to teach hour-long communication and fashion design courses as an adjunct professor.

“I decided to take my spiritual gifts as inspiration for the way I live my life in the professional world, and sought out a degree to teach at the collegiate level,” Hardaway said.

Hardaway created and researched Project Naptural, a natural hair study that has gone global and recently showed at the Union. She is also lead program director of graphic design and art history at Dallas’ Brown Mackie College.

“My hardest semester was spring 2015,” she said. “I took five classes and taught four. It was the only semester where I got a B in one of my courses. All the others were A’s.”

Project Naptural is a critical research analysis of women with natural hair. Hardaway said she also used the project to express her knowledge of design and artistic flair.

When asked about the purpose of her research, Hardaway said her project “opens up diversity in a way that has not been touched in academia.”

Communication Design Professor and Research Analyist, Terressa Hardaway smiles on a sunny day outside of UNT art building, Friday, Feb. 26, 2015. Staff Photographer| Kaylen Howard.

Communication design professor and research analyst Terresa Hardaway smiles on a sunny day outside of UNT art building. Kaylen Howard | Staff Photographer

“Design is already a majority of white men,” she said. “So to be someone blazing a new trail in this industry, I feel privileged, and hope to open my students up to new cultural worldviews.”

The critical analysis focuses on an ongoing phenomenon in the black community: the way women experience their natural hair.

“I was a lucky bystander when she was formulating and conducting her research and was always excited to hear about the progress she made each semester,” graduate student Lisa Mercer said.

The graphics in Hardaway’s presentation represent a variety and distinction of diverse black women she critically analyzed and studied. She includes quotes from each subject alongside statistics.

Outside of her own research, Hardaway partners with organizations like Natural Hair Work Day, which shares similar ideas on the importance of natural hair in the job industry.

“We are creating an actual event,” she said. “It will have people there that will change the perception of African-American hair in the professional field.”

Ideas for a new hair line and a Naptural app are underway, she said.

“The app will be doing the three things that Project Naptural is created to do,” Hardaway said. “Which is connect women, empower women and educate women.”

But natural hair isn’t Hardaway’s only focus, as she also educates undergraduate students who find interest in her research and lectures.

Fashion design major Sara Bennack said Naptural exposed a more relaxed side of Hardaway—a different persona from her fun but somewhat strict personality in the classroom.

“One thing I noticed about her website and her research in comparison to the class is that it is very professional and organized,” she said. “I feel like that’s the way she is in the classroom as well.”

Hardaway said she wants to further her education by getting her Ph.D.

“I am equally as excited to teach students as I am empowering people,” she said. “It’s one and the same: education and empowerment.”

Featured Image: Communication design professor Terresa Hardaway analyzes her students’ design projects in her class critique. Kaylen Howard | Staff Photographer

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