An Interview with Najeema Iman Owner and Designer of Curlitude

All photos of McNajeema are taken by Justin McMahan

NaJeema’s Motivational Quote: “I create for myself and sell the leftovers!”

 Lansing, MI-NaJeema Iman is the owner and Artist of her embracing business known as Curlitude. Curlitude is an art brand of wearable art, jewelry making, accessories, t-shirts and more. Lansing has a lot of striving artist who are turning their hobby of art into a unique business and brand. Lansing Mosaic linked with entrepreneur NaJeema Iman interviewing her about Curlitude.

 Lansing Mosaic:  Can you provide me with a description of Curlitude?
Najeema: The business of Curlitude like myself is ever evolving. Curlitude started as blog post series for my former blog project, ” I AM Curly Locks”. Though writing is therapeutic for me, my healing began with the creation of wearable art pieces for Curlitude.

Curlitude is the idea of embracing authentic self, flaws,  every curl, curve, attitude, and roadblock along the way.  A journey of self awareness expressed through mixed media art.

It all started with a few hand sewn fabric headbands given away to friends, but it is emerging as an all encompassing art brand. Curlitude is the best of me. If I am not creating, I am not living.  Curlitude is my saving grace from daily struggles.

Lansing Mosaic: What type of business is Curlitude? Jewelry making, clothing etc.
Najeema: Curlitude is an art brand that currently creates wearable art, accessories, t-shirts and more. It is evolving daily as I experiment with new materials and ideas.

Lansing Mosaic: What lead you to start Curlitude? How did you come up with the name?
Najeema: Curlitude is a portmanteau word that combines the words curly and attitude.

Curly meaning made, growing, or arranged in curls. Attitude meaning a way of thinking.  Curly + Attitude = Curlitude, making and growing my way of thinking.


Lansing Mosaic: How long has Curlitude been in business?
Najemma: Many years of creativity, 3 years officially as a business.

Lansing Mosaic:  What made you want to start Curlitude?
Najeema: Being an extremely social artistic person who turned to the life of a stay at home wife and mother, I needed an outlet, a way for my voice to be heard. Curlitude allows me to meet new people on a consistent basis  and share my art with the world.  Before Curlitude I lived in the fog of depression, overwhelmed by my day to day life; now I am free and full of life. I have my bad days, but the good sure outweighs  the bad.

Lansing Mosaic: What makes Curlitude unique?
Najeema: Curlitude has a little something for everyone. I love to mix mediums and incorporate unique materials such as eggshells, paper, ink, bottle caps, etc.  I am not afraid to, as Miss Frizzle says “Take chances. Make Mistakes. Get Messy.” My lines are never straight, my fingernails are always stained, but for the most part they create beautiful things.

Lansing Mosaic: What is Curlitudes most popular item?
Najeema: To date my most popular items are the Eartha Kitt Pop Classic Icon Earrings.

Lansing Mosaic: Has Curlitude won any awards, been featured in magazines etc?
Najeema: I haven’t won any awards yet, but I was happily surprised to be featured in a Buzzfeed Life Article, “23 Ways to Cover Yourself in Black History Month Pride” in February.  I have a couple of other things in the works, fingers crossed you will see Curlitude in a few magazine ads soon.

Lansing Mosaic: What type of Resources have you used in Lansing to get Curlitude up and running?
Najeema: Though my family has lived in Lansing almost seven years, I have not always embraced its diversity.  Within the past few months that I have focused on networking with other artist in the area to be in the know.  I attended a mixer sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing a few months ago, which  helped me engage with other artist around town. There is a lot going on, you just have to pay attention.

Lansing Mosaic: How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
Najeema: As stated a little earlier I am am primarily a self taught artist who attends Youtube university often.  My retail background, customer service skills, and artistic nature have all lent themselves to the creation of Curlitude. I haven’t fully arrived, there is much to learn about the business of art.

Lansing Mosaic:  How do you market Curlitude? How are people aware of your business?
Najeema:  Network, network, network. Curlitude is always on my mind, and I strive to be courteous and personable to everyone I meet. This doesn’t mean I don’t have an off day or two. I carry an easily accessible stack of business cards everywhere I go.  Some of my most influential networking experiences have happened at the science center or the playground hanging out with my wee ones.

 I am my brand so I wear one piece from my collection everyday, I have found that simple conversations about a piece that I am wearing can lead to many great adventures.

A good photo and hashtag go a long way in the world of social media. I use several
platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr to stay engaged with my customers. I love getting late night/early morning photo tags by my loyal customers.

Lansing Mosaic: Where do you see Curlitude in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
Najeema: Within the next year I definitely want to venture into large scale mixed media art pieces, a few more t-shirt designs, venture into handbags and household items.  In the next five years I hope to have a well established art brand and have my own studio space.  In the next ten years I hope to have my bachelors and be on the road to a masters in Fine Art and business. I would also like to teach young people who struggle with depression and anxiety how to overcome using art as therapy.

Lansing Mosaic: Does Curlitude have a stated mission statement, the reason that this business exists?
Najeema: Curlitude exist to create art to accent your natural beauty and style.

Lansing Mosaic:  Do you have employees? How many?
Najeema: Currently I am the only employee of Curlitude, but I hope to have an assistant within the next two years as Curlitude grows.

Lansing Mosaic: Do you do marketing for your business?
Najemma: Yes. My husband takes my photos for the most part, I edit and schedule posting on social media. I create all my own marketing materials such as business cards, banners, vendor displays, etc. There is definitely room for improvement.

Lansing Mosaic: Can you describe your customers?
Najemma: My customers are just as diverse as my products, Miss Curlitude doesn’t discriminate. I have customers of many different nationalities and ages.  The majority of my customer are eccentric and looking for a pop of color to wear with an outfit or a t-shirt to make a statement.

Lansing Mosaic: Who is helping to fund Curlitude? Are you funding your business yourself?
Najeema: Curlitude started with a few donated materials and a couple hundred dollars from my family.  I kick in money for materials as needed, but Curlitude funds itself.

Lansing Mosaic: What is your favorite Motivational quote?
Najeema: I can not remember the artist name, she was a street artist interviewed by Humans of New York sometime within the last few years. She said “I create for myself and sell the leftovers!” This kind of struck a cord with me and I have told myself this everyday for the past two years.  My best work comes when I do me and don’t pay attention to the trends.

Lansing Mosaic:  Besides working on Curlitude, what do you like to do in Lansing?
Najeema: There are many things that I would like to do with my life.  I love people and believe that everyone is multifaceted.  I, like many 20-somethings, am still discovering who I am, I hope to continue to engage with diverse voices of creativity in Lansing. I hope to participate in more Lansing based art events and work with young people on expressing themselves with art.

Follow and Learn More About Curlitude

About the Author
​​Ashlee Willis
About the Author ​​ Ashlee Willis​​ Ashlee Willis is the founder and creator of Lansing Mosaic. Ashlee Willis created the Lansing Mosaic to help highlight more small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Lansing area through articles and video content. She currently resides on the Executive Board of some of Lansing’s well known Organizations, speaker,teacher and entrepreneur. Ashlee enjoys her family, the beach and coffee!


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