Natural Curls and Natural Wine with Nadia

HEADLINER: Nadia Pugh, NAD Wines

Just reach out to folks. Work with them, not around them.


If you’re really trying to bring new folks in and create an experience that is different, ask people.”

– Nadia, Founder of NAD Wines

Based in the Bay area of Northern California, Nadia Pugh is the Black and Filipino Founder and Creator of NAD Wines, a space that explores the natural wine industry. 

Through her platform, Nadia connects with people over wine and offers natural alternatives all the while talking about wine in a relatable way.

In this edition of HEADLINER, Rosie Chuong goes live with Nadia to talk about how she wants to MANE-IFEST CHANGE for the natural wine industry, how she learned how to care for her curls and how any company can easily make their brand more inclusive.⁠

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On her HAIR HISTORY and childhood relationship with curls…

“I’ve always had curly hair and this similar hair pattern my entire life. 8th grade was the first time I straightened my hair. Growing up I always wore my hair curly. I did ballet, my hair was in a bun, and it was frizzier and messier than a lot of the girls in my classes.”

“From 8th grade through the 3rd or 4th year of college, I mostly wore my hair straightened. It wasn’t out of ‘oh I don’t like my curls’ it was more so because it was easier. I only had to wash it one time a week and my flat ironing would last that long.”

“4 years ago when I was living in LA, I got my first DevaCut. I was nervous, but ready. It was the first time I got my hair cut curly. It was the shortest I had ever gone. “

“My hair is pretty fine. Having shorter hair from the DevaCut made my hair feel so free. My hair grew back with more of a coily bounce versus a wave. I’ve probably only straightened my hair 4x times since getting a DevaCut!”

“I mostly wear my hair curly. I’ve worn braids and different styles just to experiment, but this is my hair most of the time!”

Details on her wash day routine for our Instagram live…

“I mainly transitioned to wearing my hair curly because I sweat! I work out 4x a week. It’s hard to maintain adding heat to my hair to keep it straight because of that.”

“For my scalp, I use Taraji P. Henson’s scalp line which is available at Target. It’s truly scalp focused and for exfoliating and cleansing my scalp. For styling I use DevaCurl and SheaMoisture. For deep conditioning, I use SheaMoisture as well. I’m not a one brand girl, I love experimenting with different price ranges and different compositions of formula. I’ve learned that my hair loves protein!”

“It’s all a fun journey! Even today after I posted my wash day on social media, I was having some fun conversations with people talking about their wash day routines and what products they’ve tried.”

On her family’s relationship with her hair…

“Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m wondering who really did teach me to care for my hair? It wasn’t YouTube because we didn’t have that growing up!! A lot of methods and terms like cowashing and a lot of the different curly terms thrown out there like the “Curly Girl Method,” I’ve been doing that my whole life. My norm as I would describe it would be “I rinse with conditioner every day” and nowadays that’s coined as cowashing.”

“Maybe I was self taught. Maybe it was all the experimenting with different products. My mom would take us to Walmart and we’d get our hair products. I have a younger sister, but we have very different hair textures. So almost whatever didn’t work on her worked on me and vice versa. Maybe we taught each other somehow.”

“From my family I never had pressure to wear it [hair] one way or the other. My mom kept it real with us when we were younger and always told us that we’re both. ‘You’re not just Black, you’re not just Filipino. You’re both of me and your father. So you have to embrace all the features that come with it.’”

“I have this vivid memory of when I was little. I was so mad at my hair saying I hate my hair and she [mom] said, ‘Don’t say that. When you say that, you’re hating a part of yourself and hating a part of me and your father. These are all the things that make you you so you can’t hate it. You can be frustrated with it, you can be mad, but you can’t hate it.’”

“My mom has always wanted her hair curly. Even now I’ll bring over a product and swap different hair ideas with her. As she’s getting older, her hair texture is changing. My Filipino grandmother always permed her hair and would say ‘Oh I love your curls. You’re so lucky you don’t have to do anything to have it like that!’”

What is Your Curly Wine Personality?

On how her sense of identity has influenced her career…

“Reflecting on my mother, growing up and my relationship with my family, it was really about just being me. I think owning and being comfortable in my own skin and who I am, being very confident and sure that I’m the only person that’s me.”

“I just happened to love wine, putting that together is the gift. You get to be who you naturally are, like what you like and support small businesses. All these things in this space led me to that.”

“When I first started my page, I was looking around, and thought it was so cool, but I didn’t see many people who looked like me. I found people where I thought, ‘wow I want to write about wine like those people, I want to take pictures like those people’ but even if I emulated styles, even if I drew inspiration from other people, I’m still the only person that identifies as me.”

On how she got into natural wines and what her growth in the wine industry has been like…

“It was unexpected growth. I started my page last February [2020] before the pandemic. I just thought, ‘hey, I want to share what I’m learning about wine.’ I wasn’t even sure if anyone was going to care. Our mutual friend, Tiffany, was like just do it. Just start the page, it doesn’t even matter. You have so many pictures of wine tasting and drinking wine at home just start it! I was nervous.”

“I kept thinking, ‘oh it has to have this perfect filter, it has to look like this.’ Then I stopped caring. We’re stuck at home and there aren’t pretty winery pictures we’re taking so I’m finding angles in my own space. We revamped our home during the pandemic. I just started to take pictures and share and meet people, and I think that’s really where my heart is in all of this: meeting people and building relationships.”

“My background and degree from college is in social work so for me it’s about relationships and the people behind the story. Wine is like that. Kind of like people. Bottles of wine have stories, they have origins. They have culture and they can all bring people together.

Taking all of those aspects, that’s how I’m able to be me online and I’m past caring about whether people are going to like a post. I’m going to post anyway and put it out there. Whether it’s an experiment or something new, or sharing something new that I learned. This is my life. I scroll back, I look and I think, ‘oh I used to write about this and now I know more because I studied wine, I drank wine, I met with winemakers and learned their stories.'”

“Even seeing the evolution in my writing has been a journey for me too. I’m now in a role where I can write [about wine] professionally and I really love it.”

On her role as Assistant Editor at The Wine Zine…

“It’s [The Wine Zine] a natural wine publication about the culture around natural wine. It was something I was not keen to. Sure, I loved drinking wine in general prior to last year, but then I got into different wine making styles. Deeper, I started understanding the different culture around natural wine, such as how the grapes are treated, how the land is respected and how people connect behind the wine. The wine scene is a lot of those things. I really fell in love with reading the digital version online before I even read a print copy.”

“As the Assistant Editor, I was brought on last summer to bring a different perspective in wine. Not having a background in wine, I think I bring a fresh perspective. It’s been a fun learning journey for myself plus growth being able to contribute to the magazine.”

On serving on the Vinguard Advisory Board…

“I joined in November 2020 right around election week. It was a light during that week to be invited to be part of the advisory board of The Vinguard. They stand for social justice and equity within the wine space. If you look at other industries, there are codes of conduct, handbooks, a basic set of rules on how things operate in terms of treating people fairly, not standing for sexual harassment or other things that may come up. The Vinguard has transformed from a blog to a nonprofit.”

“The Founder Pamela has worked hard to pull people from different perspectives and different backgrounds, to highlight that this isn’t just a wine thing, this is a human thing.”

“I bring in a fresh perspective, specifically because I’m NOT in the industry, and mainly as a consumer. Having experiences like going to places where people don’t look like me, going to tasting rooms, where they have their own culture and color, having that perspective of not just, ‘hey this is how we operate on an industry standard, but this is how we treat people that come into our industry and want to consume in our industry.’”

“I’m having a lot of fun. I’m going to be working on their social media and I’m going to be working on their social justice pledge that they have other wineries and wine businesses sign.”

“I’ve been in academia. I’ve been in social work. Putting that together with wine has been interesting and different. Again, something new to me and part of my growth.”

5 Natural Wine Terms to Know

On what community means to her…

“Community is a sense of belonging. It’s a sense of ‘you can you look around and feel safe.’ Safe to share, safe to learn. Safe to try new things. And that leads to growth. You’ll feel uneasy, you’ll feel weird, you’ll feel uncomfortable, but it leads to growth.”

“In a community that I’m building, I want people to feel comfortable to ask questions about wine and not feel like they have to have specific words or specific jargon to talk about wine.”

“If all you have to say is ‘hey I like this!’ That’s perfect too. You don’t have to say it tastes like pineapples and fresh grass and everything fancy. That can come later if you’re interested in learning that part, but if you just want to enjoy good wine and talk about how it makes you feel, then it’s about that. It’s about bringing people together in that space.”

On advice for someone who wants to manifest change in their community…

“It starts with finding what’s in here [your heart]. What is the passion that drives you? At the end of the day when you get tired of working and putting things out on the internet, you have to sit back and be like, ‘hey I’m passionate about this and this is a topic I can talk for hours about.’ This is what drives me.”

“Once you identify those things then stay true to yourself and your style. When it comes to digital communities, there may be a lot of people doing the same thing, but if that’s not you, don’t do it.”

“Community is important to me. People feeling happy, people feeling safe, all those things are important to me as an individual and I want to share that.”

On resources and tools missing in the natural wine space…

“Opportunities for collaboration. I believe every space has room for growth.”

“For example, a tasting room. Maybe they have a spring release party for their wines. If you want more people there, maybe don’t use the same caterer that you’re always using. Maybe bring in a Latinx owned restaurant, a Black owned restaurant, maybe something like that along with the wine to make folks feel comfortable to try something new with a fun pairing. That’s an example of collaborating.”

“In 2020, it’s been about “doing the work.” We’re working on being a more XYZ, whether personally or as a company. Just reach out to folks. Work with them, not around them. I think that’s one thing.”

“If you’re really trying to bring new folks in and create an experience that is different, ask people. Why not?”

On resources and tools missing in the naturally curly community…

“There’s different aspects of the curly community. Natural curls can come in all shapes and sizes. All different people can have curly hair. You can be White, Black, Asian, purple, yellow, orange, we can all have curly hair.”

“I’d love to see cross collaboration between other communities. Talking to each other about what does it mean to have curly hair because we all go through it. We all have frizz. Talking about crossing over with other cultures and talking about curly hair in a way that engages.”

“I don’t do a ton of protective styles, I’m really just a wash n goer. What if there’s a protective style from the Black community that may be helpful in terms of how you sleep or how you keep the integrity of your curls that can be shared with the Asian community and vice versa? That’s an example of collaboration.”

On curly hair in the workplace setting…

“I remember going to one of my first job interviews with straight hair and I’d wear it straight at work. Now, I wear my hair naturally curly as well as in a pineapple. Wearing my hair in a pineapple could look just as professional with earrings as wearing it down.”

“Over time, with curly hair being more streamlined and more acceptable, and now that I’m more comfortable with myself, I’ll go to work with my hair like this [naturally curly]. Ask me 10 years ago, when I was about 22, I definitely wouldn’t have gone to work with my hair curly.”

On the best wine to get on a budget or on a splurge…

On couple’s activities revolving around wine…

“Wine tasting at home whether you’re by yourself, with a quarantine group or partner! Go to a grocery store or wine shop, pick 2 bottles you love or maybe bottles you’ve never had. It’s a great way to say, ‘hey let’s try this together or this is my favorite let’s have this together.'”

“Pairing wines. We cook at our house almost every night. It’s always fun trying new things. If you like spicy Thai takeout, have a Riesling or rosé with it. If you want something deep and moody, and you want to Netflix and chill, get a syrah.”

On upcoming projects she’s working on…

“The next issue of The Wine Zine coming out by next April. Pre-orders are now available and cover artwork features a photo of me! The cover story is about a Black women winemaker duo in San Francisco, specifically out of their apartment! It’s a great story about facing adversity in 2020 and pushing forward. It’s a story special to my heart especially considering I knew them before I started writing for the Wine Zine.”

“For my page, I’m looking forward to virtually meeting followers. I recently hit 4k audience members which feels crazy! I want to be able to meet people whether it’s through virtual events since that’s going to be a thing for a while. I want to grow that space as well as increase access to natural wine.”

On challenges of being an entrepreneur in the wine industry…

“For me, it’s a learning curve. I come from the health industry and transitioning has been interesting. A lot of learning I do is from tasting wine believe it or not. It’s not just the winemaker. It’s not just the shop owner. There are so many roles in between and I’m really trying to learn through hands on experiences. That’s why I go on vineyard tours and go into tasting rooms.”

“Helping bottle wine I’ve done too. All these experiences help me understand the industry as a whole. There’s still so much to learn and it’s very limited as to what you can learn on the internet.”

On how she handles her schedule to accomplish things…

“I do it all with a planner! I love my virtual planner, but I love a pen and paper planner. Especially for days when I’m feeling overwhelmed and feeling like my anxiety is up the wall, I just write down action items I need to get done today. It helps me stay organized.”

“That and finding projects outside of this, like working out which is something I do with my fiancé. I still find time for that.”

“Finding stuff as an outlet that’s not the work anymore. I’m still passionate about wine, love wine tasting as a hobby, but now it’s no longer a hobby. For me, this is work and this is something I’m learning, studying and working on. That’s where the gym comes in.”

“Another thing is to remember why you’re there. Remember why you’re in this. Remember you’re doing it because you want other people to know about it.”

This Edition of HEADLINER is sponsored by:

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