Soul Society 101: Hi Patrice! Can you tell us a little about what you do for a living?
Afrobella: I’m the creator of Afrobella.com, a beauty, natural hair, style and lifestyle blog dedicated to women all shades of beautiful. So I’m a professional blogger and freelance writer for a living – in addition to Afrobella, I’m a contributing editor to Glam.com.
Soul Society 101: How did you come up with the name Afrobella? What does that mean?
Afrobella: The name Afrobella was chosen to be a symbol of natural, black beauty. I knew I wanted a universal word for beauty to be part of the name, but my husband was the one who looked at me and says “AFRObella.” As soon as he said it, we looked up the name and bought the domain. August 13, 2006. The rest is history.
Soul Society 101: What have been some career highlights to date?
Afrobella: I’ve met some incredible people and been to amazing places. I’ve been hired to host events in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London. I partnered with MAC Cosmetics as part of their Blogger’s Obsession collection and released a lipglass that was wildly successful. I’ve spoken on panels alongside Gabrielle Union, Iman and Bethann Hardison. I’ve been hired to host the red carpet and interview celebrities at the UNCF Evening of Stars and the Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. I’ve given a TED talk in my home land of Trinidad. I’ve been featured in ad campaigns for brands including Crème of Nature, Lancôme, and Urban Decay. It’s crazy looking back at it all, I can’t imagine what highlights await me!
Soul Society 101: Awesome! So what are some of your favorite things to do in Chicago?
Afrobella: I love living in Chicago! My husband is really into just walking and exploring the city. We do a lot of that in the summer, just strolling to restaurants and bars and enjoying the vibe of Chicago in the summertime! It’s a city with great food, unique culture, wonderful street festivals and friendly people. I love live music and we always have amazing concerts here. I’ve seen almost every musician I’ve ever dreamed of seeing, within the last 6 years of living here.
Soul Society 101: Being that we're a food and travel blog, what are your top 3 restaurants in the Chicago area?
Afrobella: Top three – Girl and the Goat, Stephanie Izard’s eclectic, funky culinary Mecca. I also love her diner, Little Goat. Everything I’ve ever had there has been amazing.
Tanta – Peruvian with a Japanese influence, in the River North neighborhood. It’s SO delicious and the vibe is really chill. The passion fruit pisco sours get me in trouble every time.
Three Aces – it’s like a rock and roll farm to table restaurant and bar, with a real rockabilly sensibility. Their Bolognese fries will turn you out. The food is SO good and the ambiance is really unique.
Soul Society 101: What are some of your favorite foods to eat and make?
Afrobella: I’m from the islands so I do try to make a lot of the food I grew up with, like curry chicken, Trini style stewed chicken, rice and peas. That kind of thing. But I also like to cook healthy, so I really use the internet and my favorite cookbooks to find unique and healthy recipes to switch it up. I love making Asian dishes and Mexican dishes, those flavors appeal to me. I love cilantro. I also love Mediterranean food. I like to really incorporate vegetables to my recipes.
Soul Society 101: Do have any great tips for eating healthy?
Afrobella: My tips are to drink water, I try to drink a glass of water before I eat because it makes me less likely to overindulge later. I really try to eat a lot of veggies, especially salads – raw veggies are essential for vitamins and fiber, so I make the effort. I really try not to eat fried foods or foods with really rich sauces, they mess with my digestion and are generally high in calories and cholesterol. But other than that, I say live and enjoy your life.
Soul Society 101: Where are some cool places that work has taken you travel-wise?
Afrobella: I’m from Trinidad and I always love when work takes me back home so I can see my family. I just went to Montego Bay for a beauty editor trip that was amazing. A week before that, I was in Sausalito California for a summit. One of the best work travel experiences I had was in London, when I hosted a natural hair event – getting that international love is incredible!
Soul Society 101: Tell me about favorite travel destinations and what you love about them.
Afrobella: California feels like home to me for some reason, so I always take any opportunity I can to go there. I feel the same about New Orleans – during Essence Fest it can be a LOT but in the low season, New Orleans is so steamy and sensual and charming. It’s a city made for falling in love. My husband’s family is really into the Florida Keys and we’ve been going as a family for years, camping in Big Pine Key and then down to Key West for dining and debauchery. That’s one of my favorite places in the world.
Soul Society 101: Nice! Can you tell what beauty products you are currently using?
Afrobella: How much time do you have? LOL – I use a TON of beauty products, from all spectrums – drugstore, department store, indie brands being whipped up in the kitchen. I love it all. Currently I’ve partnered with PG Beauty and My Black is Beautiful, so I’ve been using a ton of their products by COVERGIRL and Olay.
Soul Society 101: What are some beauty products that are a must for the winter season?
Afrobella: I didn’t know what winter skin WAS until I moved to Chicago. Now I know, it’s not a game and moisture is essential. Internal moisture just by drinking water is key, but also using deeply penetrative moisturizers on your skin, on your face, and for your hair. I had to step up my whole game when I moved here.
Soul Society 101: What can your readers expect from you this upcoming year?
Afrobella: This year I’m really looking to spread my wings and try new things. I’m working on a book, I’m hosting events with brands I love – I’ll be at Macy’s in Philadelphia on April 4th, hosting a fashion event. I know I’m involved in some cool celebrity-type events I can’t announce yet. Honestly I don’t always know what to expect in my own upcoming year, that’s the beauty of what I do. It’s always an adventure when you’re charting your own course!