Protective Styles for the Summer

Summer is here and to make sure you enjoy every second of it we have a list of protective styles to keep your hair healthy and growing while also giving you more time to enjoy the sun.


Box Braids: There’s nothing better than feeling like a goddess with some long box braids flowing down your back. Box braids have and will always be a go to protective style for many of us and the best part is that they come in any size or style.


Cornrows: Cornrows have come a long way and the styles are becoming more and more creative. Whether you like it braided all the way back or some crazy design, cornrows will always be a classic look for the summer.


Faux Locs: If you really want to feel the Caribbean vibes you must try faux locs for your next protective style. Whether you go with regular locs or goddess locs, you are bound to fit in during your next trip to the islands.


Twists: Senegalese twists, Marley twists, Havana twists - it’s hard to decide but it’s a no-brainer that twists are a great protective style. They take less time than box braids to install and are ten times easier to take out.


Braided Bob: Long box braids can make us feel hot and heavy in the sun so going for a shorter look just might be the trick. A quick and easy braided look that gives us 90’s vibes is the perfect choice this summer.


Colorful Braids: Summer is the best time to bust out those beautiful bright colors you’ve stored away during the colder months. Summer is truly the season to embrace the skin you're in and be the care-free unapologetic black girl you are.

(Written by Obono Mba-Madja)

When Vacation Becomes LIFE: One Woman's Big Move

I met Nikki about three years ago in St. Thomas while I was on a Parlour Magazine Travelfly Solo trip. We met incidentally on an island excursion where we were the only two people of color in attendance (annnnd the only two that couldn't swim, ironically). She was there on vacation and I was also there on vacation (but with the group). 

Over iconic Painkiller cocktails fresh from the isle of Jost Van Dyke, we spoke about our love for traveling and the Caribbean while sitting atop the Bad Kitty speedboat. With the sun baking and browning our bronze bodies we spoke about how we'd love to relocate to where the weather was always warm. 

Today, Nikki has done just that. 


You recently left Chicago for sunny Puerto Rico. What made you choose Puerto Rico as your new place of residence? 

It all started with a promise to myself, that I'd relocate my 20th year anniversary with the company. I consulted with our HR department regarding finance opportunities with the company outside of Chicago. The response was California and Puerto Rico. California just didn't excite me but Puerto Rico did! I started networking with employees in PR, did tons of research and I made my mind up to move to the island.

Hurricane Maria caused a lot of damage and devastation. How has this impacted your move, or has it?

Hurricane Maria did cause a ton of damage and devastation to the island but did not impact my move. I'd say the resiliency of the Puerto Rican people, with recovering, motivated me.

Has moving to the Caribbean always been a dream of yours? How far in advance did you have to plan?

Actually it was always a dream of mine. It became a dream once the idea was presented!!


Besides the obvious - beach, shimmering turquoise waters, and warm weather - What's the best part about living in this tropical location?

Beside all of those wonderful things I feel the best part about living in this tropical location are the beautiful spirits I run into daily. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. They remind me life can be tough but it's still meant to be enjoyed, celebrated and shared. 

That is exactly what I appreciate about the Caribbean culture. Last but not least, do you miss being stateside? 

In the two months I've been here, I haven't missed being stateside!


Thank you Nikki for taking the time out to chat with Coconut + Concrete. Whatever your dream may be just know that it IS attainable. You never know where YOU may be in three years. Keep pushing ya'll. 

Trippin' with Shanna Stevenson!

There's something about the kindness of strangers that can be highly motivational. When I decided to get serious about Coconut + Concrete, Shanna Stevenson (@tripwithshan) was one of the first people to interact with me. It is organically inspiring when people who don't know you, have never met you in person can see your vision before you've even put it out there. I use the term "organic" in the social media sense; you know its real. I take those little interactions as a spiritual sign from above to press on; no matter how frightening the thought may be.  

Shan also has an interesting story that I thought might inspire others to just get up, get out and do the damn thing!

Just to clarify, you're from Atlanta right? How did you end up in the Dominican Republic and how long have you been there? 

Actually, I was born in Chicago, but yes, I was raised from the age of 2, in a northern suburb of Atlanta, called Marietta. My DR story starts back in 2014. That's when I took a mother/daughter trip with my mom, Donna. She picked the place after finding a deal online. Honestly, at the time I knew nothing about the DR and never had any interest in it. It's so wild to think about it now. Anyway, after researching the deal my mom had found, I realized I could find a better one, so we cancelled that one and booked the trip I found. Long story short, we had an amazing time, got off the resort, and enjoyed some adventurous excursions, my favorite being the horseback riding. It was on this excursion that I truly fell in love with the country. I had a chance to observe the authenticity of one of the local neighborhoods. The way the people all appeared so content. The way I witnessed the kids enjoying themselves and making the most out of nothing or the simplest of toys. It was astonishing to witness. My heart was forever changed. It was at that moment that I fell in love with this little place and begin thinking this could be the simple life I needed. Exactly one year later to that same week, I had landed in the DR to begin my new adventure there. It's been almost 2 years now and it's been quite the learning curve, but in all seriousness, I grow more in love with the place daily.  

IMG_8305 (1).PNG

Do you travel back home often?

I try to get back home about every 3 or 4 months. Although, lately I've been traveling to other places, making the rounds to visit friends and family in other states. Next year, I plan on doing a lot more international travel, so home visits won't be as regular. 

Many may not know but in addition to your trip planning services you also operate an Airbnb! Did you have to purchase property in the DR? If so, what was that process like?

You're right! Airbnb hosting was actually the very beginnings to TRIP WITH SHAN. My guests would constantly want my recommendations and would even request that I accompany them out. Literally through listening to them, my personal tour services (another segment of TRIP WITH SHAN) developed from these interactions and their feedback. And yes, I do maintain some property in the DR. I have been able to leverage some great relationships with some pretty cool people I have met here that trust me to manage their properties. Both the personal tours and the hosting have been great additions to the TRIP WITH SHAN offering.

How long have you been a certified travel professional? How did you get into the business and is this your only profession?

I received my official certification as an international travel agent and began offering my services just over a year ago, but have been trip planning for what seems like, all my life. It's one of my favorite things to do. Thank goodness, because my clients keep me busy! I came across the opportunity when a respected friend talked to me about becoming an agent based on my lifestyle at the time. It was a no-brainer for me and ever since I've been thrilled to be a part of this $8 Trillion dollar travel industry. It's really a fascinating sector. Travel has always been a big part of my life. Being able to introduce others to it, has been the most amazing thing to experience and is what really propels the direction I take TRIP WITH SHAN. Right now, its all about creating authentic experiences where people feel comfortable venturing off their resorts or away from their hotels to really get a better feel for a place. Safety and personal attention are what we offer. That's what people want. 

Favorite vacay spot?

Can I say, my "backyard"? Literally, the beach is 5 minutes from my door! Hahaha, but honestly, any Caribbean locale with amazing food and positive vibes. I love the island life. 

And we can totally agree with that! Many, many thanks to Shan for taking the time out for Coconut + Concrete. If you're looking to experience 3 nights, 2 excursions and 1 amazing time in the Dominican Republic this coming February, click here for more info, Shan's got you covered!

**Sidenote: Shanna isn't exactly fluent in Spanish, she likes to say she's fluent in Spanglish (Spanish + English), most of her clients refer to her as being "bilingual" and she gets a kick out of it every time!


So now what's stopping YOU from reaching your dreams?