An Alabama artist and entrepreneur channels her mental illness through her illustrations

Written by Kristin Farmer


Posted on December 26 2019

Kristin Farmer loves to celebrate life. She has overcome so much in hers because she has been battling Bipolar Disorder for the last 13 years. The disease could have affected her negatively, but instead, she decided to channel her feelings by creating the whimsical Curly Contessa, a brand through which she celebrates living.


The idea for the brand came to her when she was sitting on the side of her bed thinking about how she could treat herself. Curly Contessa is a series of hand-drawn illustrations that represent the matriarch of curly tresses. She’s a boss babe, go-getter and trendsetter.

She couldn’t find anything that represented her, an accomplished, young African-American woman, so through a series of illustrations and drawings, she create Curly Contessa. For her, the image celebrates women of color everywhere and is an image that helps them celebrate the little things in life and offers comfort, no matter what they were going through. 

“Battling a mental illness is tough,” said Kristin Farmer the founder and creator of Curly Contessa. “I’ve had to re-train myself just to get through each day of the week. I find myself celebrating the little things like being able to brush my teeth because there have been times where the thought of getting out of bed was hard. Now at the end of the day, I get to pour a toast to myself in my own my tribe wine glass or black girl wine glass.


The wine glass evolved into a lovely painted silk scarf, wrapping paper and sweatshirts adorned with Curly Contessa’s face. For her, it’s a labor of love that also helps her overcome what she may be going through at any given moment. Curley Contessa has become part of her self-care routine. She considers herself blessed because she has learned to deal with her mental illness by celebrating others. 


Her business has grown over the last couple of years. She encourages anyone who wants to start a business to express themselves through a creative outlet or idea that they just start, fail fast and often. Without those pitfalls she says, there is no success. She also encourages entrepreneurs to find a mentor or business coach. She has grown her business through the trials and tribulations that she recommends. Curly Contessa is way for Kristin to give back to those who have helped her in her illness and the way she expresses love for women of all skin tones.

“I love celebrating my tribe. I send friends and love gifts for holding me down when I’ve been through a bad spell and it’s important for those gifts to represent them. To represent us. Our diverse hair textures and varying skin tones,” she added. 

By Kara Kennedy of Inspired Southern