I hope you’re enjoying your Memorial Day weekend!
For this week’s “Woman of the Week” feature I would like to introduce you to Porsche Léonce. Porsche is an attorney in Atlanta,Georgia, practicing in the area of civil rights in employment. While balancing a full-time career as an attorney and business owner, she manages to also be heavily engaged in yoga as a licensed instructor to family and friends.
Porsche is our “Woman of the Week” because she is ambitious,talented and driven to redefine the ideals of beauty.
Check out my chat with Porsche about hair, law and yoga below!
- What inspired your decision to maintain being natural from childhood to adulthood?
- I have always been natural as far as not chemically straightening my curls, but I have dyed my hair when I was young. The dye damaged my hair so much that it changed the texture of my hair, and made it very dry. It took me a long time to restore my hair back to good health. So, certainly after that I never wanted to consider a relaxer, keratin, or any kind of hair straightening system that would damage my hair again. I stay natural out of fear that my curls will be compromised if I try any of those things.
- Do you prefer to wear your hair straight, curly or both?
- I prefer to wear my hair curly. I do, however, like to switch it up sometimes and straighten it, but I do so rarely because I try to protect my hair from intense heat. I tend to wear my hair straight more often in the wintertime, because I don’t like to the leave the house with my hair even a little damp when it is cold outside. Typically, I will let my hair air dry or use a diffuser before leaving home, but I am not a stickler for it being completely dry, except in the winter. My wintertime drying regimen will add some time to my morning prep.
- How was your natural hair perceived when you were working in a larger law firm?
- I would say that it would be a topic of conversation occasionally. I was the only Black women in my office with natural hair. I would get compliments or questions about my hair from my Black and White co-workers alike.
- Did you ever feel like you had to conform and relax your hair because of pressures from work?
- I have never felt like I had to conform, but that is attributable to my personality. I don’t typically succumb to outside societal pressure on any level. I am always myself and I want to represent myself in a way to others around me, especially in a work setting, that I am proud of who I am.
- From working in Corporate America, what advice can you give on some ways to wear your natural hair in a professional setting?
- I do not believe that there is a standard look in Corporate America, regardless of race. Women are in a unique position in the workplace where we have more ways to express ourselves in a corporate environment through our appearance, such as with hair, make up, the way we dress. Women can add a lot more style to a business or business-casual dress code compared to men who are relegated to slacks and collared shirts. So, I think the best advice, just on a personal level, is to be yourself. Wear your hair in a way that you can manage and style well to look presentable and let your focus be on your work product. To the extent you feel any pressure about “fitting in” or get a curious look when you rock your curly fro, don’t internalize it. Corporate America is a grind. Just know that everyone is dealing with something, whether it be stress on the job, feelings of performance inadequacy, or dealing with an unpleasant boss. Don’t let your hair be an additional stressor. To some degree your success in Corporate America will depend on the relationships you build. To initiate those relationships a certain level of confidence is necessary. You can’t be worried about wearing your hair in a way that pleases someone else because you may never get their hair approval no matter what hairstyle you choose. So, I would recommend that you style your appearance from head to toe in a way that allows you to be confident and self-assured.
- Why did you decide to leave “Big Law” to open up your own law firm?
- I decided to take control of my own career and open my law firm in 2014. It was also important to me to practice law in a way that was consistent with my passion and desire to try to help people. I previously worked law firms which defended companies against discrimination cases by employees. Now, in my own practice, I represent the employees who have been wronged and it makes me feel that I am using my law degree in a way that actually changes people’s lives and improves work environments for many others.
- What would you say were some challenges in starting your own practice?
- The challenge is wearing two hats – one as a practicing lawyer and the other as an entrepreneur managing a small business. The management side of things took some getting used to, but I have an entrepreneurial spirit, so I love running my own business now that I have gotten into the swing of things.
- How did you get involved with yoga, and becoming an instructor?
- I was an avid yoga practitioner. I began practicing yoga as a law student living in California and I really took an interest in it. When I moved back to Atlanta I continued developing my yoga practice and I wanted to take it to the next level and become an instructor. The decision to become an instructor was really a personal one. I wanted the opportunity to go deeper into my own practice and learn more about yoga and its many forms. Yoga is really much more to me than different poses, it is a meditative experience and a lifestyle.
- How do you maintain your hair while you are working out?
- I will wear a pretty thick fabric band when I’m working to keep the “fly-aways” tame. If I don’t the hair across the front will be all over the place. I can’t put a scarf on my head when I’m working out because it always comes off. I don’t want to have to use additional product to re-style my curls, so the headband helps. I also use a dry shampoo on days that I do not wash my hair.
- What are your top 2 staple products that you like to use?
- I use Mixed Chicks “hair milk,” which I swear by. I also use Deva Curl shampoo and conditioner, which I love. I found that their shampoo and conditioner are the best at keeping my curls hydrated. The Deva Curl products are associated with the “Deva” hair cutting technique. I have found that to be the best curly hair cutting technique, and I have been so pleased with my haircuts over the past 2-½ years that I have been using that.
- What do you feel are the main benefits of doing yoga?
- I believe yoga is an opportunity to take time with yourself. Even if you are in a group class, it is still an individual experience that you can use as a meditative process. You push yourself to a particular limit and then you spend some time there and check in with yourself, gently backing off if you need to. You find out what you are made of on the mat and it can help with confidence-building. I really feel like yoga is an exercise of self-love.
- Do you find that there is a large amount of black women who engage in yoga?
- I began to see more and more Black women practicing yoga. Here in Atlanta, there are some really awesome Black yoga instructions. One of the best yoga instructors that I have ever had classes (and I have taken a lot of classes with a lot of different instructors) with is a Black guy named Jason Anderson. He really brings the Black “yogis” out! I have noticed that Black people – both male and female – tend to be more encouraged to try yoga with a friend, so the more we bring each other to classes, the more we begin to change the face of yoga.
- What’s next for you? What do you have planned for the future?
- I want my law practice to continue to grow so that I can help as many people as I can. I want to argue cases that establish better law that protects employees in the workplace. As far as yoga, I want to keep developing my practice, and helping people to understand that it is more than just a workout.