Browse Tag

hair

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Cancer Survivor Starts a Medical Wig Business That Caters to Black Cancer Patients

For Black people, our hair is intrinsic to our identity—both culturally and individually. From fros to braids to wash n’ go’s, how we style our hair is fundamental to who we are, and the loss of it can be devastating.

Dianne Austin knows this better than most. In 2011, entrepreneur and founder of Coils to Locs, Dianne abandoned the years of relaxers she put in her hair and began the journey of growing out and learning to love her natural hair as it was.

medical wig
Coils to Locs cofounder and President Dianne Austin

The natural hair journey is a long and arduous one, filled with trial, error, and a lot of research to figure out what works best to keep Black hair healthy. To Black women, it’s more than just hair. It’s about self-discovery. Your hair becomes just as much a part of you as a limb.

In 2015, Dianne was diagnosed with breast cancer and discovered that with the tough treatments she’d have to undergo, she would lose both her hair and the identity she’d found with it. On her search to find a wig she could buy under her health insurance that would match her hair type, she was distraught to find out it didn’t exist, and if it did, she—and millions of other Black women struggling with hair loss—couldn’t find it.

“When I went to the hospital, I was being treated at to get a wig, I realized they didn’t have any coily or curly wig styles,” Dianne explained. “I went to some other major hospitals in the Boston area and found that those hospitals and boutiques didn’t carry wigs that looked like my hair at all. It was all just straight wigs or wavy wigs.”

Dianne learned that women with hair like her own had only one option: buy one of the straight wigs available under her health insurance and take it to another salon to have it styled to her desirability. This option forced her to pay out of pocket to retain a sense of identity.

The ratio between Black and white people diagnosed with cancer is virtually equal—so why don’t wigs represent both groups accurately? “It’s a disparity,” Dianne says and is the key reason she decided to team up with her sister, natural hair blogger Pamela Shaddock, to co-found Coils to Locs.

Medical wig
Dianne Austin (R) and Pamela Shaddock (L), co-founders of Coils to Locs –  Image: Andrea Seward

Coils to Locs, a supplier of medical, afro-textured wigs that cover kinky coils, tight curls, locs, and more, launched during the winter of 2019. The company currently operates out of multiple cancer treatment centers and medical hair loss boutiques across the United States with the hope to expand to more locations.

When asked about what makes medical wigs so important, Dianne remarks that it’s about more than vanity. Going through hair loss, whether it’s due to cancer treatments or a disorder such as alopecia, is conducive to trauma.

You lose your dignity, a sense of self, and for some women, you lose your femininity. A wig can remedy those feelings and provide a semblance of control over something you otherwise are unable to. A good wig can renew your connection to yourself and your community.

Dianne believes Black women deserve the chance to retain control over their appearance and beauty just as much as other women, and she hopes her wigs can give them that chance.

 

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3 Ways To Create A Salon That Caters To Those With Natural Hair

Could you imagine walking into just any salon off the street without an appointment to get your hair done as someone with textured hair? For most of us, the answer is probably no. 

You already know as someone with natural hair that chances are, most stylists at salons don’t know how to care for your hair. Being turned away by a receptionist isn’t something anyone wants or should have to experience. So you would think that by now, cosmetology schools and hair salon owners properly trained all hairstylists to style textured hair—which 65% of the U.S. population has, by the way. 

natural hair

Unfortunately, while salons continue to exclude those of us with kinky, coily, or curly hair from their list of services, they miss out on serving a significant portion of their communities. It’s past time that licensed professionals stopped treating textured hair as a special interest and, instead, more like an expected area of expertise.

And this change can start from the top down with hair salon owners to create a more textured hair inclusive experience for the millions of women who’d just like to get their hair done. 

Train new stylists the right way. 

When hairstylists join a new salon team, they typically must complete additional training programs designed by the salon owner. Clearly, most training programs include little emphasis on natural hair, but salon owners can change that. Plus, that training doesn’t have to be limited to just the stylists, either. 

Owners should train their receptionists, assistants, and anyone who comes into contact with clients on natural hair services and verbiage for consultations. Though cosmetology school education is limited when it comes to textured hair, hair salon owners can make up for it by ensuring their trainees have adequate practice with models with curly hair types. 

natural hair

Bring in the experts. 

If hair salon owners know little about natural hair themselves, this doesn’t have to be the reason they don’t train stylists to be better. Many professional stylists provide workshops and textured hair academies to teach students how to style natural hair, so call in backup.

Virtual education has blown up recently, too, because of in-person restrictions. So it’s definitely worth it for salon owners to discover easily accessible online programs on textured hair to help set their salon up for success. 

natural hair

Use your voices. 

If something’s wrong with the standard cosmetology school curriculum and exam (there is), then hair salon owners and stylists alike can rally to fix the problem. They can sign petitions and mandates that advocate for states and cosmetology schools to update their exams and curriculum to include texture hair education. 

Hair salon owners should feel pressure to own up to their responsibility of creating more diverse and inclusive spaces for women with all hair types to receive quality service.

In 2021, people with natural or textured hair shouldn’t have to search high and low to find an experienced stylist—understanding and knowing how to do textured hair should just be the norm.

 

Written by Reese Williams


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This Mother Creates Swimming and Shower Caps For Big Black Hair

Nomvuyo Treffers is the founder of Swimma, a Cape Town, South Africa based company that produces swim caps and shower caps that fit all kinds of big Black hair from fros and locs, to braids and weaves.

We caught up with Nomvuy to find out more about how she is running a business that operates on multiple continents.

Swimma
Nomvuyo Treffers

What inspired you to start your business?

Swimma came from a personal frustration of not being able to find a swim cap that fits my locs and my daughters’ big afros. My daughters love swimming and I found myself making excuses for not getting into the pool with them as I didn’t have a cap that fits.

Swimma caps

When you have hair like mine, a cap is not only used for keeping one’s hair out of their face but also to avoid my hair getting soaked. It takes hours to dry my thick locs. This is the reason it was important to have the caps made from silicone, a waterproof material.

My daughters were the motivation I needed as I did not want to miss out on the opportunities of splashing around with them. Moreover, as a mother and a proud Black woman, I also knew that many like us need swim caps that fit. It was important to cater to the previously ignored market.

My business is not just about swim caps. I am passionate about catering for everyone which is why we have many different sizes to choose from. It is vital that we do not let our children grow up feeling that their hair is a problem because a swim cap is too small. I want them to wear their hair with pride and not worry about not fitting in.

You’re based in SA and have distribution in Atlanta. What prompted this decision and how has it affected the business?

The decision was motivated by the love and support we were receiving from the USA and other parts of the world. Shipping from South Africa was challenging and often took longer than expected. Potential customers who read about us would need a swim cap for their upcoming vacation, but delivery times were too erratic to be able to commit to getting it to them on time.

We wanted our customers to receive the caps as soon as possible. By moving the distribution to Atlanta, we moved from delivery taking a couple of weeks, to a couple of days. We have since added distribution points via stockists in Canada, France, UK, Trinidad & Tobago, Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, etc – largely for the same reasons.

Swimma caps

What challenges do you face as a Black-owned brand in South Africa? 

In South Africa, the economy is still to a large extent centered around European concepts. There is a lack of understanding to deal with – because businesses have traditionally focused on products from a western perspective they often simply dismiss “problems” as a figment of our imagination. In a country where 90% of the population is Black, the issue of hair not fitting into a swimming cap was simply never thought about.

swimma caps

Convincing people of the viability of something, therefore, is not easy. This relates to finance and finding distribution outlets. I have had to start from scratch with a product that didn’t exist really and was only armed with my instincts.

Then there are the general challenges of any new business – distributing around the world, the hard work without the ability to hire staff in the beginning, etc. I have had offers of “help” but have stayed true to what I stand for which is a Black-owned business that is more than just a business, but a mission in life.

swimma caps

Where do you see the business in the next 5 years?

Swimma intends to launch other products that will fill a similar void. We have since added shower caps and swimming goggles. Our shower caps also come in different sizes.

The goggles have a longer strap so that they actually fit over big hair. Further growing our presence worldwide in terms of distributorship but always with the initial values in mind.

This mission is not limited to swimming or showering – while Swimma is a business, we aim to find solutions for those who have been ignored until now both from a commercial point of view and because it simply is the right thing to do.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Identify the gaps, do your research to a point, but take risks as that’s part of being an entrepreneur. Work hard – and learn to live on bread and water for a while. Be creative and think out of the box – there are many ways to overcome challenges and obstacles.

But most importantly, be ethical in everything you do. Not only will you feel good, it builds a relationship with your customer that no amount of marketing can equal.

-Tony O. Lawson


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Black Owned Bonnet Brands That Aren’t Charging $98

According to NiteCap Founder Sarah Marantz, she came up with the idea for a satin bonnet “after much consideration, conceptualization, brainstorming, and borderline obsessive research.”

black owned satin bonnet brands
NiteCap Founder Sarah Marantz

Fortunately, for Black women everywhere, someone else had the bright idea of creating appropriate sleepwear to keep their hairdos intact. Black Owned satin bonnet brands have existed for ages. Here are a few of our faves for Black girls who considered hair bonnets when sleeping on their hands wasn’t enough…

Black Owned Bonnet Brands

Regal Ivy

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Beautiful Curly Me

Chiwrapz

ID Noble

Loccrush

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Purrty Dimples

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Peace Crown’d

Beauty Marked & Co

Natural Hair Shop

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Eboni Curls

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Glow by Daye

FlorBella Boutique

Goodnight Hair Bonnets

Grace Eleyae

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Isoken Enofe

Black Owned Satin Bonnet

Loza Tam

Special thanks to Kami (@frobunni) for helping us compile this list! It takes a village!

-Tony O. Lawson 

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Black Owned Haircare Brands You Should Know

The global haircare industry is fueled primarily by Black consumers. Let’s funnel more of that money into Black owned haircare brands.

Black Owned Haircare Brands

Beard Organics

black owned haircare

Neter Gold

Wolf’s Mane Beard Care

Safiya Green

103 Collection

Blumseed

curLUXE Naturals 

 

Cara B Naturally

Obia Naturals

Black Owned Haircare

Big Hair Beauty

Black Owned Haircare

Darcy’s Botanicals

Black Owned Haircare

Wonder Curl

Black Owned Haircare

Bask and Bloom Esssentials

Black Owned Haircare

Koils By Nature

Qhemet Biologics

Oyin Handmade


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Black Owned Beauty Startup Raises $23 Million

Diishan Imira looked at the $6 billion U.S. hair extension and wig market in the U.S. and felt something was amiss. The vast majority of hair extensions used in salons – about 95%, he says — are purchased by customers online or at retail stores, who then bring those products to stylists who use them to service the customer. Salons themselves are not the point of sale, often because of the high cost of human hair.

Black Owned  Beauty Startup
Diishan Imira
Founder and CEO of Mayvenn

Simplifying that dynamic offered an opportunity that Imira, 37, seized with the launch of Mayvenn, an Oakland-based provider of real human hair from India he founded in 2012 with COO Taylor Wang. In the past four years, the company has racked up a cumulative $80 million in sales of hair extensions by partnering with hair stylists whose businesses relies on styling with such products, and who direct their customers to purchase hair from the company—essentially recruiting stylists as salespeople by building them websites, offering online support and a 15% cut of each sale, as well as sales incentives like store credit. About 70% of revenue, Imira says, comes through Mayvenn’s network of about 40,000 stylists, the rest from direct-to-consumer.

Imira and Wang’s strategy has attracted some serious growth money. This week the company announced a $23 million investment, which will go towards marketing to customers and stylists, and developing new package deals that combine hair sales with styling services from stylists within the network, at lower cost.

The influx of capital, which constitutes Mayvenn’s series B, brings the company’s overall growth capital tally to $36 million, adding to about $3 million in seed funding raised in 2013 and a $10 million series A in 2015 led by Silicon Valley powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz.

Investors who have laid bets on the firm since its founding include Serena Williams, Cross Culture Ventures and Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records and Beats Electronics. Imira remains the largest shareholder.

This latest cash injection is led by Essence Ventures, a firm founded last year by Richelieu Dennis, owner of Essence Communications and co-founder of the Sundial Brands family of personal care products, which he sold last year to Unilever for an estimated $1.6 billion. With the investment, Dennis bought himself a seat on the Mayvenn board.

Richelieu Dennis’s Essence Ventures led Mayvenn’s $23 million series B

“They’re taking a lot of friction out of the process and creating data economics for the professionals and the stylists, and greater value for the consumers,” Dennis told Forbes. The concept caters to an underserved market in both cases which is scalable, he added, which is a winning strategy.

Recruiting stylists to the Mayvenn platform to act as de fact brand ambassadors and points of sale shows a level of innovation the hair extension business has not seen, says Dennis. “We think that this gives Mayvenn the opportunity to be a leader in this space both on the service side and on the community side.”

Partnering with stylists is the main difference between Mayvenn and other players in the space, which includes sources like The Hair Shop, My Hair Closet, Indique, and Remy New York. There are also many brick and mortar options for buyers.

“I never thought I was going to do anything in hair,” says Imira, who moved to China in 2003 after college to teach English. While there he would purchase goods like sneakers, art and furniture for import and sale back in the U.S. on Craigslist.

In 2010, to hone his business chops and make connections, he earned an MBA from Georgia State University in affiliation with the Sorbonne, studying in Brazil, Paris and China. “I had fantastic instincts around business and the fundamentals of how to buy things and sell them,” he explained. “What I lacked was a higher level corporate and finance-based understanding of how to build something large. Nor did I have any connections to people in business.”

The human hair extension market beckoned when Imira’s sister, a stylist in Los Angeles, lamented the cost and difficulty in acquiring hair. Imira became a hair hocker, sourcing supply and selling to salons from the trunk of his car. That’s when Taylor Wang, Mayvenn’s cofounder and COO, entered the picture. Wang had been a client of Imira’s back in 2004, buying sleek Asian tennis shoes from the burgeoning entrepreneur, which he would sell online. Wang founded an e-commerce business, Group Swoop, which he sold to BuyWithMe, Inc. in 2011.

As the two discussed the hair market the concept that became Mayvenn emerged, funded with about $50,000 Imira raised through friends and family. As it operates today, stylists sign up with Mayvenn for free, receive a company-created, cookie-cutter website which acted as a gateway to the company’s online hair extension store, offering various types and styles. Stylists could direct their clients to buy from the site and receive a 15% commission for each purchase, plus $100 of free hair for every $600 worth sold.

“I saw these stylists who, for the most part, are independent contractors—they rent their chairs in a salon; they’re entrepreneurs,” says Imira. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur and I saw a way to empower them and, in my view, bring more equity to the marketplace where you’ve got African American women who are purchasing billions of dollars of products but are not really sharing in the economics of it at all.”

Imira ran the concept through 500 Startups in 2013, primarily to make connections to other entrepreneurs and investors he felt could be of help. “I took VCs on field trips to hair salons and beauty supply stores,” he remembers. The effect, he says, was astonishment. “That was what closed the deal.”

That year the company raised $3 million in seed money to get the network up and running and secure hair products from Asia. A series A two years later brought in another $10 million and spurred growth.

Imira first met Dennis several years ago through an introduction by the Sundial chief’s cousin, Emmett Dennis, and Imira identified Dennis as someone from whom he could learn. Ironically, the hair care giant saw elements of Mayvenn’s strategy that could inform its own growth process. “They saw what I was doing in helping to build distribution through these hair salons and through stylists as a component to what they had been trying to do for a long time,” says Imira.

The companies stayed in touch and once Dennis sold Sundial Brands, flush with cash, investment talks began in earnest. “The biggest synergy is that we believe that in all of our businesses, the common theme is community,” says Dennis. “Especially serving under-served communities – that’s our sweet spot – and that’s exactly where Mayvenn fits.”

 

Source: FORBES

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Black Owned New Jersey Businesses You Should Know

Here’s our list of Black Owned New Jersey Businesses. Check them out, support, and let us know and let us know which ones missed!

Black Owned New Jersey

Mo’Pweeze Bakery offers delectable treats like cupcakes, cakes, breads, cookies and pies that are just as indulgent as regular bakery items.

Bailey Li interiors is an interior designer with the ability to transform spaces into stunning environments.

Bella Nail Lounge and Beauty Bar is a stylish salon for manicures & pedicures, plus facials, waxing & eyelash extensions.

8 to 8 Barber Shop is a rapidly growing, forward thinking, hair therapy salon offering personalized hair & massage services to men, women, and children.

Blending pure Americana staples with the strong cultural cues of Indian cuisine, BURGER WALLA is a new twist on the BURGER joint.

Sugar Fetish Cakery is a custom cake design studio specializing in wedding cakes, specialty cakes, cupcakes, cookies, dessert tables and more.

Mac’n! by Mari specializes in making traditional french macarons with flavor & style.

Soul Xpressiion is a non-profit organization designed to educate students in the areas of fine and performing arts, stage management, stage production development, and how to utilize their gifts to inspire others.

DNT Dynamite Design describes the work of Daveia Odoi who offers professional illustration and graphic design services to various businesses, organizations, and individuals in need of high quality visuals.

 

Gideon’s Needle is a Bespoke Lifestyle brand. We custom design clothing based on your body shape and type.

Ikuzi Dolls are beautiful black dolls that come in different shades of brown, hair textures and hairstyles.

The Newark Times is the premier online multimedia and news site dedicated to sharing the narratives and perspectives of the great city of Newark NJ.

Butter + Nectar premium satin pillowcases that protect your curls and promote healthy hair and skin. Prevent the loss of natural hair oils, reduce breakage, split ends and tangles, and minimize frizz.

NoiaBrittany is a homemade, raw, organic, cruelty-free skin care line. Noia, for short, celebrates all skin types and improves skin care naturally.

Mr. Tod’s is a niche bakery specializing in pies and other baked goods made from scratch using all-natural ingredients.

Prime Surgicare specializes in minimally-invasive bariatric surgery for rapid, sustainable weight loss.

Tara Dowdell Group is a marketing and strategic consulting firm driven by a passion for helping socially conscious businesses, brands, and organizations grow.

Bro-Ritos Food Truck is a food truck that specializes in…burritos.

But-A-Cake specializes in making Butter Cakes, a delicious treat made with simple ingredients that result in a fusion of pound cake and vanilla angel food cake.

Black Swan Espresso is Newark’s first Specialty Coffee and Tea Shop. They specialize in using the highest quality international coffee beans in all their roasts.

Blueberry Cafe’ Juice Bar & Grille prepares Organic Cold Pressed Juices and Smoothies  along with Vegan Wraps and Soups that help people on their quest for good food and a good life.

Yamean Studios Films is a full service cinematography studio specializing in cinematic style wedding films.

She Imagined Sweets creates Mini Cheesecakes for birthday parties, baby showers, weddings, anniversaries, networking events.

Stellar Smile Center offers in office and take home whitening. They also have options for whitening for those with sensitive teeth.

Built in 1903, Akwaaba Buttonwood Manor is a colonial-style inn with modern amenities located in America’s oldest seaside resort, Cape May.

 

-Tony O. Lawson

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Money flowing into the Natural Hair Industry is a Blessing and Curse for those who built it up

Miko Branch was deep asleep when her sister Titi woke her up to celebrate. After months of experimentation in the kitchen of their Brooklyn brownstone kitchen, she had finally perfected the concoction that would come to be known as Curly Pudding.

It was a major discovery — well worth the early morning wake-up call — because in 2003 there were very few hair products for black women with kinky, curly or wavy hair.

“There was nothing like [Curly Pudding] in the early 2000s,” Miko Branch said. “It was really transformative.”

The product line they would go on to develop, Miss Jessie’s, was one of the pioneering brands in the natural hair industry, a once-grass-roots segment of the beauty world that’s now a hotbed for investment.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, these companies catered to and were largely run by a small community of black women embracing their natural hair. But with 71% of black adults in the U.S. wearing their hair naturally at least once in 2016, according to research firm Mintel, natural hair has now hit the mainstream. And with black consumers spending an estimated $2.56 billion on hair care products in 2016, it’s no surprise others are eager to edge into the market.

Investment from beauty industry giants has helped natural hair products move from specialty stores to the shelves of major retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and CVS — making it easier for customers to get their hands on what were once niche products.

But it’s also forcing independent black-owned companies to compete with corporations that long ignored the natural hair market, resulting in sometimes uncomfortable changes for customers and business owners alike.

For black women, hair is more than a style — it’s something tangled up in history, politics and race.

Discrimination against black hair can be traced to slavery, when slave owners gave preferential treatment to those with “good hair” — a term still used today to describe black hair that more closely resembles European hair textures. To better assimilate and achieve a higher status in society, black people developed techniques to straighten their hair.

It wasn’t until the civil rights movement that black people began to reclaim their natural hair in droves. However, by the 1990s product offerings for those sporting natural hair remained sparse.

“Back then retailers weren’t bringing in natural brands,” said Richelieu Dennis, chief executive of Sundial Brands, best known for its SheaMoisture line. “They were focused on serving only women with relaxed hair.”

Black hair, which can grow out instead of down, can range from loose waves to tightly packed coils. Because of the hairs’ curl pattern, natural hair products must address unique needs, such as inherent dryness, to promote healthy hair.

With few offerings from major beauty brands, those who wanted to care for natural hair took matters into their own hands, creating products for black customers and an avenue for black entrepreneurship.

Liberian-born Dennis partnered with his college roommate and mother to make hair and skin products inspired by family recipes in 1991. A decade after opening her first salon, Jane Carter launched the Jane Carter Solution product line in 1992. Carol’s Daughter was born out of a Brooklyn kitchen in 1993. Curls, founded in Elk Grove, Calif., and Kinky-Curly, of Los Angeles debuted in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The Branch sisters started Miss Jessie’s in 2004.

Generations of being told in schoolworkmedia and even inside the black community that natural hair was unacceptable had lasting effects. But for black women going against the grain in the 1990s and early 2000s, online forums such as NaturallyCurly.com and Nappturality.com helped foster a sense of pride while spreading the word about nascent businesses, said Shelley Davis, founder of Kinky-Curly. Seeing other black women embrace their hair on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram inspired many to take the plunge.

“It’s always been a community — people sharing and complaining and consoling — that has evolved with different technologies,” Davis said.

natural
Bianca Alexa. (Christina House / For the Times)

As more women went natural, homegrown natural hair operations reaped the benefits. Sales increased and operations expanded. Sundial Brands, which started as a street-vending operation, moved to mass retailers in 2007 and is now worth an estimated $700 million.

“For so long we haven’t had a lot of options, we’ve been sold misinformation and now the tide has changed,” Davis said.

Meanwhile, multinational corporations were left catering to a dying trend: relaxers. According to Mintel, black spending on relaxers fell 30.8% between 2011 and 2016. By 2020, it’s estimated that relaxers will plummet to the smallest segment of the market.

The hair care industry is saturated, said Toya Mitchell, a multicultural analyst at Mintel, with shampoos and conditioners experiencing soft sales. “Companies looking for growth are looking for consumers that are the low hanging fruit,” she said.

Adding natural hair products is an obvious way for big beauty corporations to tap into the more than 24 million black women in the U.S — a market many had previously overlooked.

This has led some multinational beauty brands to build their own natural hair lines. Cantu, developed by AB Brands in 2004, was sold to PDC Brands in 2015. L’Oréal unveiled Au Naturale in 2013. Pantene launched a natural hair line in January developed by a team of black scientists.

Major beauty companies also began investing in and acquiring black-owned natural hair brands.

Carol’s Daughter was sold to L’Oréal in 2014. Namaste Laboratories, known for its Organic Root Stimulator line, was sold to Indian wellness company Dabur for $100 million in 2010. Bain Capital, an investment firm co-founded by onetime presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has a minority stake in Sundial. (Dennis declined to discuss the size of Bain’s stake).

This funding has helped natural hair companies expand. With L’Oréal’s acquisition, Carol’s Daughter reached more than 30,000 stores nationwide. Mitchell estimates that Carol’s Daughter and SheaMoisture are aiming for 45,000 retail outlets.

Despite their increasing influence in the market, major beauty brands acknowledge it will be an uphill battle to win over black customers who feel the industry has neglected their needs.

“We understand that many have the perception that Pantene is not a brand for women with natural hair,” Jodi Allen, vice president of hair care for North America at Procter & Gamble, said in an email.

Such sentiment hasn’t stopped Pantene, Dove and Garnier Fructis from launching “very overt campaigns to black women trying to bring them into the fold,” Mitchell said.

Natural hair has hit the mainstream and companies are eager to cash in. Pictured is a sampling of natural hair products including Cantu, Curls, Miss Jessie's, Au Naturale and  SheaMoisture.
Natural hair has hit the mainstream and companies are eager to cash in. Pictured is a sampling of natural hair products including Cantu, Curls, Miss Jessie’s, Au Naturale and SheaMoisture. (Jerome Adamstein / Los Angeles Times)

The interest and capital from big beauty has upsides and downsides, said Kashmir Thompson, founder of Delish Condish, a small natural hair product line. “I have mixed feelings because it almost seems kind of culture-vulturish,” she said. But “a part of me feels like it’s about time. I don’t really want to shun it because we should’ve been part of these bigger brands.”

Yet the changing industry has some customers fearing they’re the ones who are being shunned.


The influx of money — and competition — has led some in the natural hair industry to prioritize the most traditional of business goals: growth. With black women making up about 7.5% of the U.S. population, one way to grow sales in the increasingly crowded natural hair sector is to reach new demographics of shoppers.

Some natural hair firms have started targeting a broader audience of multicultural buyers to better compete with corporate giants. But in doing so, they risk alienating their original customer base.

Before its acquisition, Carol’s Daughter signaled a transition with a 2011 ad featuring singer Solange and multiracial models Cassie and Selita Ebanks. “What we’re doing now is moving into a polyethnic space,” investor Steve Stoute told Women’s Wear Daily when the campaign was launched.

For some, the ad marked a step away from a movement for black women. “It seems like Carol’s Daughter did what many companies tend to do — feature only lighter-skinned women of color, because they’re considered more palatable to mainstream society,” wrote blog Brown Sugar Beauti.

Founder Lisa Price says she knew Carol’s Daughter had the potential to reach a larger demographic than its original largely black and female customer base when she realized the products work for a wide range of hair and skin types.

“We will continue addressing diverse beauty needs and featuring African American women, and all types of women in our advertising — as our Carol’s Daughter family has grown to include real women from around the world,” Price said in an email.

SheaMoisture faced similar backlash for an ad in April. The ad, part of a campaign with dozens of short videos, featured several white women talking about the hair-related struggles they’ve faced — like having red hair. Critics said it minimized the lifetime of discrimination black women face over their hair, affecting their employment prospects, media representations and self-esteem, among other factors.

The blowback was swift and fierce.

“The reason people felt upset is because you feel so close to this brand that you’ve seen grow and you’ve helped build and you’ve spread the word about,” said Patrice Grell Yursik, creator of black beauty website Afrobella. “To see them making decisions that make you feel excluded and that they’re intentionally trying to move on from you as a consumer is hurtful.”

Dennis said the ad did not go through Sundial’s typical process. “We understand that we as a brand have transcended a brand and we are part of our cultural identity and there’s a responsibility that comes with that.”

When asked if they are shifting to a multicultural audience, some brands point to hair type instead of race. “From the beginning, my sister and I were staying focused on texture,” Branch said. “It’s not uncommon for a Jewish woman to have the same afro-texture as a woman with African descent.”

“I’m black,” Davis said. “I made [Kinky-Curly] for my hair type and as time went on, other ethnicities and other demographics have started to use the product which is fine.”

Some customers are denouncing the shifts by brands such as SheaMoisture and Carol’s Daughter — companies that helped kick-start the natural hair movement — and pledging their support to small, independent black-owned companies.

“A lot of these brands … say they’re listening and in the same breath they try to defend what they do,” said Erin McLaughlin, a 20-year-old from Philadelphia who went natural two years ago.

There’s a reason those with natural hair are concerned, Yursik said. After all, the movement emerged because big beauty companies were ignoring their wants and needs. Who’s to say that won’t happen again?

“I want to see our black brands grow in a way that doesn’t result in alienating us as a consumer base,” she said. “It’s something we’ve seen before.”

 

Source: LA Times

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8 Black Owned Natural Hair Care Brands from the UK

As more Black women around the world continue to embrace their natural hair, the demand for quality products that make it easier to care for Black hair has increased. Here are some Black owned natural hair care brands that are based in the United Kingdom.

Black Owned Natural Hair Care Brands from the UK

I Love Afro is a family owned company specialising in handmade hair care products using the finest quality ingredients that nourish and encourage soft manageable curls.

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Shear & Shine is the UK’s first Black owned grooming brand for Black men. They are committed to redefining the perception of Black men and inspiring them to be the best they can be.

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Big Hair Beauty is a natural hair care range for curly, kinky, multi-textured hair. Their products are formulated using natural ingredients and are free from harsh chemicals and ingredients.

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SimplyMoi offers a range of natural hair products including their our line. Their oils are 100% organic and are extracted via cold-pressed methods to safeguard their valuable antioxidants and other nutrients.

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TLC Naturals offers products, which are made made in small batches, using simple blends of nutrient-rich & antioxidant-rich plant and fruit ingredients and minimal processing.

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The Naturally Made For You products are made from 100% natural ingredients. Their mission is to promote and encourage the use of natural body products to achieve healthy, vibrant looking hair and skin.

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Hug My Hair provides premium handmade natural hair products that are organic, Fairtrade and made from unrefined shea butter. 100% Vegetarian.?

14484774_976839019091727_2856550907443072925_nCurly by Nature produces naturally derived hair care treats for genetically curly hair to enhance its health & beauty. Their mission is to serve people with natural solutions that revive the beauty of their hair and dispel the myths associated with curly hair.

Natural Hair

 

Feature image is of Whitney White: Founder of @MelaninHaircare 

-Tony Oluwatoyin Lawson