The Fashion Find Network

UNbound and Natural: An Interview With Tomiko Fraser Hines

Photo By: D'Andre Michael

When you think of Tomiko Fraser Hines, what first comes to mind? If you’re anything like me and love all things beautiful, you think of her as one of the biggest hair inspirations in the natural hair community. Tomiko’s phenomenal career in fashion and beauty, has not only landed her in numerous magazines like Vogue and Flare, she is also known as the first African American Model to sign exclusively to Maybelline Cosmetics. As she continues to take the industry by storm, she remains unbound and ready to inspire.

TLN: Thank so much again Tomiko for doing this interview. It truly is a pleasure! So, when was your first encounter with relaxing your hair?

TFH: My mother first relaxed my hair when I was 11 years old.

TLN: Did you like it at the time?

TFH: I don’t really remember if I liked it or not.  But I do remember not liking the long bus and train ride it would take for my mother, my sister and I to go from our home in The Bronx to the hair salon in Queens.  I never understood why we had to go so far from home.

TLN: What was the breaking point that aided in your deciding to go natural?

TFH: My going natural was forced on me about 12 years ago by a scalp doctor who, after seeing my damaged scalp, told me that I could no longer relax my hair.  I was floored!  I was in the midst of my contract with Maybelline and having to change the hairstyle they initially hired me with was a great cause of concern for me.  Also, wearing one’s hair natural wasn’t “in” at the time, especially in the fashion industry.  Nor was I as “hair evolved” as I am now.  So I was not happy that I had no choice but to wear my hair natural.  After doing my first Big Chop, I waited a few months and then relaxed it again.  I can be so stubborn at times.  Well, of course, it fell out again and that was it.  I embraced my natural hair and to my surprise, so did Maybelline and the other modeling clients I had.  I will be honest and admit that I did relax my hair one more time about 4 years ago.  Guess what?  It broke badly again, so I will never be relaxing my hair again.  I LOVE my natural hair and have learned my lesson about relaxers….finally.  : )

Maybelline Ad Photo By: Michael Brandt

TLN: As the first African American model to sign exclusively to Maybelline Cosmetics, do you think fashion and beauty companies are noticing the void in the industry regarding natural hair?

TFH: I don’t think that the mainstream fashion industry notices the void at all and that’s unfortunate.  In my dreams, I envision a world where ALL women are seen as beautiful by the fashion industry.  Whether they be short or tall, skinny or full-figured, younger or older, whether their hair is relaxed or they rock it naturally….I just want the fashion industry to finally be a representative of the beautiful array of women out there.  I believe that day is coming and I plan to have a hand in it happening.

TLN: Why do you think its taken so long?

TFH: I think it’s because we, the people, haven’t demanded it.  We haven’t used our voices and our money to protest the very limited view of what is considered beautiful by the fashion and entertainment industries.  Until we do that, they are going to continue ramming those very limited views down our throats.  All the while, poisoning the minds of our young and even our elders.  How long does one need to NOT see themselves represented in mainstream media before they begin to feel worthless.  This has to change.

Photo By: Derek Blanks

TLN: Not sure if you know, but you have Hair Inspiration status:) Did u ever think that your decision to go natural would inspire women to do the same?

TFH: I’m flattered and honored that I’ve achieved Hair Inspiration status.  And even more so because I powerfully choose to be natural and don’t really care what others think of my hair because I LOVE IT!  If me and my hair can inspire women to powerfully stand by their choices, then my work is done.  Whether it be how you wear you hair, what your body looks like, who you choose to marry (or not), whether you choose to have children (or not)…I want ALL women to be in charge of their lives and live them as THEY see fit.  NO ONE else should call the shots for how a woman lives her life…no one.

TLN: I’ve watched you and your husband’s YT channel. You both are such an adorable GORGEOUS couple! And he rocks locs. Did he always rock locs?

TFH: Thank you.  My husband, Chris, has had locs since I’ve known him and that’s been 11 years.  He’s worn locs for about 15 years and I love them!!

TLN: What were his thoughts when u decided to go natural?

TFH: I was already natural when I met him.  But he was extremely supportive when I chose to Big Chop again

Self Portrait of The Happy Couple

last February.  When I asked him what he thought of my wanting to wear

my hair short, he replied “Whatever makes you happy baby.”.  I have a wonderful husband.  : )

TLN: A lot of naturals have seen in you the Gain commercial. What’s up next for you in 2012?

TFH: Yes, the Gain commercial has been a great introduction for me into the Natural Hair community.  It’s been and continues to be a lovely ride.  I just shot another commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios (just me and my natural hair) that will begin airing in June.  In addition, I am one of the leads in an upcoming feature film, “Ex-Free’, written and directed by Troy Beyers who also directed “Baps” and “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”.  That will be in theaters later in 2012.  Also, my husband and I continue to post videos on our YouTube channel, “Chris & Tomiko Talk About” (  Our hope is to have our show picked up by a major network.  We’d love to invite your readers to Subscribe to our channel and share us with their friends. I’ve also self-published a book called “UNbound”.  “UNbound” is the photographic celebration of women who have stepped out of “less-than-ness” and stepped into their inner Goddess. Along with their amazing photos, each woman in “UNbound” shares her personal story on how she overcame a challenge in her life. The 90+ page, hard cover, full-color, book will inspire that special girl or woman to become UNbound & triumph through adversity.  Your readers can see examples of the pictures & purchase a copy via the following link:

Want to follow Tomiko and see what lies ahead?
Over and Out…

4 comments on “UNbound and Natural: An Interview With Tomiko Fraser Hines

  1. DDR
    March 5, 2012

    Nice article Tomiko! Congratulations on all of your commercial success!

  2. Yardley
    March 7, 2012

    This was great!!!

  3. Adrienne
    March 8, 2012

    Great Interview.

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This entry was posted on March 5, 2012 by in Interviews & Extras.

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