The Sunflower Experience

Erin Garnes, a 22 year old from Baltimore may be young, but she’s already a veteran on the social media circuit. Her blog, The Sunflower Experience includes content about embracing her natural texture, being a female blogger, and hosting an event in D.C. called Curl Talk. Erin is inspiring young women every day to embrace their natural hair textures and celebrate each other through positivity. Read on to learn more about Erin, what inspired her Curl Talk event, and her #CurlStory.

Interview: Erin Garnes

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Most people on social media know me as @theesperanzamaria but my real name is Erin! I am soon to be 23 years old and I was born and raised in Maryland. My hobbies include writing and reading, as well as blogging and spending time with my friends, but I work a ton, so many times my hobbies include sleeping, watching movies and relaxing when I can.

Your Instagram bio says you are a student. What are you studying?

Growing up I always loved reading and writing, which is why I majored in Mass Communications. I love connecting and talking to every person and listening to their stories, which is why I utilize my platform and put the things I learned on my blog and towards my brand.

Do you know what you want to do after you graduate?

I have no clue. I recently graduated from Towson University and I know I want to do something meaningful, but I haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to do it. For the time being I’m working part-time and enjoying the freedom of post grad life.

You call yourself a “Positivity Enthusiast” – what does that mean?

Positivity Enthusiast basically means I promote and endorse all things positive. Positive mind, positive vibes, positive actions and positive thoughts. There’s so much negativity in this world and I just want to create a force that combats that negativity.

What inspired you to start The Sunflower Experience and is there a special meaning behind the name?

I was originally inspired to create an adventure blog, just a space for me to document my adventures during the summer and share personal stories with my friends. Then, a few of my friends encouraged me to make my website public, and the ball got rolling from there. I started using my Instagram as another form of blogging and incorporated elements of my blog on my social media. The meaning behind the name essentially has to do with me being the sunflower and experiencing life through my eyes. Sunflowers are not only my favorite flower, but they have so many beautiful meanings behind them, so I embraced it as a part of my brand in addition to who I am as person.

You hosted a Curl Talk event in D.C., helping women to embrace their natural hair and to share that love – tell us more about how you came up with the idea, and what the main takeaways from the day were.

The idea of Curl Talk came from a conversation between my best friend Tacha (@tach.j) and I. There were so many events in New York catered to the curly scene and no one was bringing those kinds of events to DC, so we figured why not do it ourselves. “Curl Talk” is a play off of Girl Talk, because whenever our friends got together, hair and beauty would often be the topic of discussion. We put our heads together and essentially came up with a concept that would bring curly girls together and promote empowerment and confidence at the same time. We were able to execute Curl Talk pretty amazingly and are currently in the process of planning the next one.

As a young woman blogging and on social media, you are really carving the way for people who want to embrace their natural texture and share their curl journeys. Tell us your #CurlStory.

My hair story has been a process to say the least. My mom started putting relaxer in my hair at the very young age of six. From that point on I had them every 4-6 weeks to relax and straighten my “coarse” hair. After a decade of putting relaxer in my hair I noticed that my hair was thinning out. Along with getting relaxers I was in salons and getting my hair fried, dyed and laid to the side. So, going into my sophomore year of college I vowed to stop using relaxer. That worked for a while, then I started going all natural in the summer and taking heat breaks, but I didn’t know much about hair care. I was literally washing and putting conditioner in my hair then putting it up in a bun. Detangling and doing twist-outs was a foreign concept for me. Although my hair was starting to fill out again I still wasn’t taking good care of my it. The summer following junior year of college, I moved in with my friend Kayla who had done the big chop into her natural journey versus transitioning and she introduced me to twist outs and the importance of taking time with your hair. From there, I dove into YouTube tutorials and found influencers on Instagram with my similar texture who helped me through my journey. My best friend Tacha was also going through a hair journey and we both encouraged each other going fully natural with no heat and using only great products. And so here I am today five years fully natural and two years with no heat! It’s been an amazing journey and I’m excited to continue this journey learning new things not only about my hair but myself. Loving my natural hair has been a journey of growth and accepting my true self.

What’s your go-to hairstyle? Walk us through it.

My go-to hairstyle is normally just fresh out of a twist-out down and either parted to the side or down the middle.

What’s the best piece of curl advice you’ve given or been given?

The best piece of curl advice I give and was also given to is love your curls and coils just the way they are. Don’t wish you had someone else’s hair because you think it’s more “manageable” or looks better. You are beautiful and have a purpose. Do not allow other people to define your beauty. Embrace that and love that and wear your hair like you should, as a crown.

Thank you so much Erin, for sharing your beautiful #CurlStory with us! We can’t wait to see where life takes you next!


Image Credits: @theesperanzamaria, @steven_csloh, @afarmerphoto96, @mv.rcus, mfieldsphotography