Getting Ready
ebonee davis

Ebonee Davis Talks Saving the Planet, Natural Beauty, and Why She Buys Her Jewelry in Harlem

We got ready with the model-meets-author-meets-activist before The Lions’ Ocean Sounds event.

By: Janell M. Hickman
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

If Ebonee Davis had a word of the day, it would be synchronicity. We linked up at the Soho Grand Hotel to hang out with Ebonee before she headed over to Saturday’s Ocean Sounds event hosted by The Lions. She opened up about everything from what’s on her playlista mix of Ari Lennox, Teyana Taylor, Chloe x Halle, Kehlani, and D’Angelo (“for a black-love summer,” in her words)environmental racism (the residents of Flint, Michigan, still don’t have clean water), how to make an impact on the environment (less plastic), her minimal skin-care routine (because what goes in ultimately comes out), and, of course, her signature natural hair.

Everything about her routine and ultimately her final look had a common thread that effortlessly tied it all together as she got ready for the event. “You know what’s crazy? This Stella McCartney suit has an ocean around the bottom of it, and I didn’t even realize it until I went to go get it tailored,” she explained.“I just thought it was really cool, I loved the moon concept like I was talking about earlier. And now I’m like, This thing has a whole ocean on it? Talk about synchronicity. We are here ebbing and flowing for real.”

Other intentional touches, like delicate gold rings attached to her braid, were reminiscent of the moon, and her accessories were purchased from black artisans: the jewelry from 125th Street in Harlem and shoes by Brother Vellies. Keep reading to see what getting ready with the newly landed L.A. transplant is like.

“I was born in Seattle and lived there until I was about four years old before I moved to Portland with my dad. I was primarily raised by my father, and that was a big influence in my life because he taught me a lot about my blackness. I also had my great-grandfather, who lived in Portland at the same time. Every Sunday, my grandfather would host these community gatherings that he called ‘Redemption Hour,’ where he taught us about our African roots. And he would not discriminate—anyone in the community was welcome.”

“It was a little bit hard growing up, being a young woman raised by my father, because I didn’t necessarily have access to makeup. I couldn’t really play or explore in the way that a lot of young women get the opportunity to when they can get into their mother’s bags and purses and all that stuff. But my dad’s girlfriend, who is my youngest brother’s mom, did hair. I spent years in the hair salon watching her. She did everything from twists to relaxers, she gave haircuts. That was my routine after school, I would sit in the salon until my dad was off work.”

“The salon was where I started to get my ideas around hair care. I think at the time, I definitely was like, ‘Straight hair is the standard of beauty.’ That’s the message that was being perpetuated throughout the community at the time, and those were the images we saw in the media in the early 2000s. I’ve had to shift that for myself and take on a new idea of what I think is beautiful.”

“I feel the most beautiful when I just have my hair natural…when I don’t really have makeup on and I’m just sitting in the sun, taking that in. I have my natural, sun-kissed glow happening with a little bit of lip gloss. Really simple, really dressed down, really down to the basics, not the full production, just who I am authentically. That’s when I feel most empowered, too.”

“Instagram started forming this natural hair community around the same time I cut my hair in 2016. It was so amazing that I could just scroll through my feed or click on hashtags and see all of the women who look like me with hair textures similar to mine who were going through the same exact thing. Whether it be dealing with low self-esteem, learning about different products, exploring different techniques for hairstyling at different lengths, it was just like, ‘Thank god that I have this!’ As much as we talk about social media being dangerous, it’s also such a powerful tool for us to connect and create community. Especially when we feel like we don’t have access to those communities in that immediate space.”

“[My stylist] Ebone sent me like, five pictures, and I chose this one. I like the look to be timeless, but we also put these gold rings in the front of my hair, which gave me this transcendent vibe.”

“Tonight’s event is for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation. We’re raising awareness and funds for research and conservation projects. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation does a lot of work to free animals who have been put into captivity, which is a huge issue that comes back to exploitation. Sea World is a billion-dollar business, and these are migratory animals that are not meant to be put in pools or perform for human pleasure. The thought of it makes me so mad that freedom is being taken away from these amazing, majestic animals.”

“It’s an important cause for me to be a part of because the more work I do on myself, the more I realize the interconnectedness of all things of this planet. I’m not separate from the ecosystem, I’m part of it… Right now we are making the earth sick. We have the power, consciousness, awareness, financial resources, and technology to make positive influences on this planet. I want to be a good bacteria.”

“One thing that I have been doing is using a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic one, and refilling it with tap water. [I] have access to clean tap water, which not everybody does, and that’s a big issue. Environmental racism is real, which is why this cause is important to me. Flint, Michigan, still doesn’t have clean water. Reducing the amount of plastic that we’re using every single day makes a huge difference.”

“I went to the gym not too long before my glam squad arrived, just so I could get my mind right. I really exercise for my mental health, and obviously there are physical benefits to that as well. I make sure I’m moisturized, take a really good shower, and really mentally [prepare] myself to be the best version of myself when I walk into [these spaces]. I’m actually an introverted person, so I spend a lot of time by myself in solitude, which works for me. When I do get around people, I want to be the brightest light I can be and show as much love as possible.”

“I went down to the restaurant they have downstairs [Soho Grand Bar and Lounge] and had some spaghetti earlier. Honestly, it slapped! [laughs] It was so good. Like, so good. Nothing is worse than spending money on a meal and it just doesn’t slap! And then it’s like, ‘Damn, is this the way the rest of my day is going to go?’ Just all dry and unseasoned? But that set the tone, my day is about to be popping and spicy.”

“I just went to this young aesthetician, Emani Mone, a black girl in Brooklyn. I saw that someone re-tweeted her on Twitter, and I’m all about supporting young black women, as you can see with my glam team. I went in there, and she gave me an amazing facial, and I bought some products from her that she makes herself. So that’s what I’ve been using. I just started using SPF, and I’m proud of myself, but she created a moisturizer that has SPF in it. That’s been really great on my skin. I also use a shea oil that’s by Shea Moisture for additional moisture and softness.”

“My routine is really simple; I don’t like to use a lot of products. It really comes back to the eco thing. I don’t want to put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t put in my body. Plus, everything I put on my body eventually goes back into the earth. And all of the empty containers end up in landfills or in the ocean. So I always try to be as minimal as possible.”

“I usually put it on a little R&B playlist and shuffle through that vibe. I like music in the background, but nothing too crazy. I love to be able to have conversations and be able to connect with people. Right now I really like While We Wait by Kehlani, I’ve been bumping that since it came out. I’ve also been listening to some D’Angelo lately, I don’t know, maybe it will be a black-love summer, we’ll see. Listening to him might manifest me a little boo.”

“I like to have my hands empty, but I usually do have a bag with me. I only carry a little bit of gloss for a touch-up, a mirror to make sure everything is sitting in place, plus maybe a little powder to freshen up.”

“The last thing I remind myself before I walk out the door is to remember who I am. The time I am most affected by stuff coming at me in my life is when I forget who I am and I’m not walking in my power or standing in my power. When I tell myself to remember who I am, I feel like it just allows things to flow so much easier. Then, when I get in front of the cameras or on the carpet, I get this confidence, but also this ultimate humility because it’s like, ‘Wow, I really get to be part of this human experience—and I get to be me in this human existence.’ That’s so phenomenal to me. I’m so fortunate and so blessed that I get to exude this confidence, but also be super, super humble that I was selected to be part of this in this way.”

“Today this suit has a deep V, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to secure the goods. So I got this bra from Urban Outfitters that is the same exact color. Now I can be comfortable and I don’t have to worry about it.”

“I bought my jewelry on the street in Harlem. Like I said, I’m really all about giving my money to black women. There are tons of African vendors who sell beads, cloth, and all types of stuff up there. It’s hand-crafted, so to me, it’s so much more interesting than going to a big department or chain store and finding something. It’s also more eco-friendly because it’s not being produced in such high quantities, which was really important for this event.”

Ebonee Davis wears a Stella McCartney suit, Urban Outfitters bra, Brother Vellies shoes, and her own jewelry. Hair by Ebone Alloway and makeup up Patrice Pugh.

 

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