Alexandra L. Smith, more frequently known as Alex Elle, has made an immense impact on women, both of her generation and beyond. She has quickly gained recognition for her candid, honest words, most notably in her acclaimed debut book, Words from a Wanderer. Alex is also a natural hair blogger, jewelry designer, and poet. Her poetry and prose are frank, derived from real life experiences and the raw human emotions in which everyone can relate. “I’ve always been a writer,” she admits, “I found myself in writing my truth.”
Alex grew up in Olney, Maryland, the only child of Victoria Moore and stepfather James Moore. Alex describes her younger self as “awkward and insecure” but with a constant need to be a leader in hopes of quelling her insecurities. Alex possessed an entrepreneurial spirit at an early age that she would carry into adulthood. “I was always really creative. I had my own little business in middle school. I used to make Now & Later wrapper jackets and belts. I used to print and sell iron decals on shirts, so I had an operation going on from my locker in middle school.” Her mother, a jewelry designer (by hobby), helped to nurture Alex’s creativity throughout her childhood, “I think I was ten or eleven, maybe twelve…” Alex recalls. “My mom gave me a journal that I still have to this day. It’s a red knit journal embroidered with these beautiful flowers. That was my first real journal and it really pushed me to keep writing.”
Alex pushed on with her writing through high school where she first learned to share her work with others in a creative writing class. She always turned to her writing during the challenging stages of her life, including coping with an absentee father and becoming a mother herself at 18. Alex is incredibly candid on these subjects. “I was a mom at such a young age and had to write through that truth and dig deep into why I became a teen mom and what caused me to feel as though a baby was going to make everything better for me.”
In 2009 Alex founded “The Good Hair Blog”, a platform she describes as “a place to network, share thoughts and fellowship with the online natural hair community.” To date her blog boasts over three million views worldwide. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Alex founded shopALS, an online jewelry store specializing in ethnically and spiritually inspired items such as peace bead bracelets and Chakra rings. “I started playing around with making things one day,” she says. “I think I made a wood bracelet with [my mother]. People liked what I was wearing. It kind of just flourished from there.”
And yet despite the significant success of her blog and jewelry line, Alex is still probably best known for her beautiful writing, the craft she has long claimed as her first love. She began sharing her personal thoughts on popular web platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr) and quickly developed a strong following. Soon she found herself repeatedly faced with the same request: to compile her writings into a book. And so with the push from her growing online community, Words from a Wanderer was born, a collection of empowering notes and love poems. Self-published in Spring 2013, the book had cracked Amazon’s Bestseller Top 100 list for poetry, a truly remarkable achievement for a first-time independent author. “It’s crazy how the book has traveled from place to place and ended up in someone else’s arms,” she says as her eyes beam with excitement. “It’s being shared and it’s being welcomed and that in itself makes me really glad that I decided to publish.”
The success of Words from a Wanderer led to a national book signing tour and demand for Alex as a motivational speaker. Alex is currently finishing up her sophomore title, Love in My Language, which is set to be released in early 2014. “The second book is going to piggyback off of the [social media] movement I started called #LoveIn2Lines. It’s going to be a compilation of a lot of little poetry, two line poems.” The concept came from a period of writers block (“heart block” as Alex informs me fellow poet Nayyirah Waheed calls it). “I couldn’t get out a full poem so I just wrote down pieces of them.” The book will also feature personal stories from Alex’s life, as she continues to open herself up with love and light to share wisdom far beyond her years.