Tag: Beauty

What are we going to do about colourism?


While colourism extends to many cultures, this post will focus on colourism within the black (of African descent) community

That Tweet (and all the others that have come before it)
A few days ago, another anti-dark skin black girl tweet from 2012 resurfaced. UK TV personality, Maya Jama (a teenager at the time) girlfriend to Stormzy (a British-Ghanaian), one of the biggest grime artists in the UK, was exposed for tweeting this tweet – a quote from a comedian:

maya jama tweet

To top it off, Maya had to apologise twice because her initial apology was addressed to ‘all women’ and not specifically to dark skin black women.

maya jama apology

Yes, Maya was young when she tweeted this quote from a comedian. However, black women have been brutalised physically and mentally for hundreds of years due to their skin tone, I don’t have sympathy for anyone who encourages this type of abuse (including the comedian who apparently said it initially).

Some were not best please with Maya Jama’s quoted tweet.

emma dab tweet 1

emma dab tweet 2

What also makes it worse is that, Maya has a black fan base and makes money from black culture (she hosted the UK MOBO awards last year). Now she is not the only celebrity ‘of colour’ (apparently, she is of Somali/Swedish descent) that has allied with the abuse of dark skin black women, that is why this post is not about her, but a more pressing problem.

What’s funny about the Maya Jama tweet from 2012 is that, AFRICAN women have been shaving their heads for decades! So, it’s funny that some believe dark skin black women should not wear a hairstyle that has been passed down the generations!

Colourism
The negative connotations that come with having darker skin (especially as a woman) are palpable.

Stemming from slavery and colonisation the roots of colourism run deep, along with the global narrative that lighter skin (especially for women) = beauty, this isn’t a light-hearted issue and like racism ignites similar emotions.

What’s depressing about this whole colourism issue is that it’s perpetuated by US! Yes, black people. If black people abuse dark skin black women, then the flood gates are open for others to do the same, thinking it’s totally acceptable behaviour. The psychological abuse of dark skin black must stop, and this must start within the black community.

Slavery and colonisation were strategic in their psychological carving away of black self-worth. Many black people have internalised and perpetuate this self-hate as a fierce emotional a weapon.

colourism in the black community, racism, black men, black women

It’s been noted on Twitter that celebrities who get the most attention for speaking out against racial discrimination have a ‘similar look’. Like Beyoncé (who is an amazing singer – #beychella), the perception is they are the ‘acceptable (more palatable) faces of black’.

 Actress, Zendaya recently admitted that ‘light skin privilege’ within the black community does exist, when many choose to be coy about the subject. Zendaya frequently speaks about racial disparities and is applauded for doing so. However, If someone of a darker hue, e.g. Serena Williams were to do the same, more often than not would be crowned with the ‘angry black woman’ slur.

It’s about time we have honest conversations, acknowledging the ‘light skin privilege’ many black and mixed-race people posses. Allowing dark skin women to say how they feel, without being dismissed as jealous and angry of their light skin counterparts is important too.

“Unfortunately, I have a bit of a privilege compared to my darker sisters and brothers”.

“Can I honestly say that I’ve had to face the same racism and struggles as a woman with darker skin? No, I cannot.” – Zendaya in a 2016 Cosmopolitan interview

Even in the black entertainment industry the bias towards dark skin black women is evident. This beauty legacy, means that ‘the struggle’ is harder for dark skin black women. Along with everything else that was great about Black Panther, the concept of having a dark skin love interest (one which had a darker complexion than her male protagonist), played by Lupita N’yongo is not something we are used to, even in 2018.

lupita chad

As confident as she is now, Lupita had insecurities about being dark skin (and was mocked about it by a black NBA star last year). The perpetuation of colourism is equivalent to ‘black on black crime’.

 

So, what are we going to do about colourism?

Is representation enough?

Having powerful gate keepers like Shonda Rhimes, has given us characters like Anaalise Keating in ‘How to get Away with Murder’, played by Viola Davis. Nate Moore who works for Marvel Studios was instrumental in placing the Dora Milage via Black Panther on the big screen, which definitely had a billion-dollar impact! Despite this (and other exposures of dark skin black women) and hundreds of years post slavery, I’m still here in 2018 writing a post about colourism!

dora milage, black panther, wakanda
Women with shaved heads is a normal part of African culture

Maybe we need more representation in our local communities, professional and creative industries? But I’m not sure if this will shift the negative narrative around dark skin black women either. Are these perceptions actually changing? It’s hard to overcome the battle of the mind and like most psychological illnesses, I guess colourism requires some sort of ‘therapy’. The first step in this process is to admit there is a problem, so maybe we start there?

Any other suggestions on how we can move past colourism? Comment below.

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Featured image credits: Maya Jama (Metro), all others (Instagram). Post: Instagram and Twitter.

12 Christmas gift ideas for the whole family


The “Twelve Days of Christmas” carol is one of the most famous British carols, so I’m listing 12 Christmas gift ideas for the whole family! The reason we give Christmas gifts is to remember those given to baby Jesus by the Wise Men. Despite buying Christmas presents every year, we all need a little inspiration.

For decades large companies have made millions during Christmas. As consumers we tend to stick with what we know. This makes it difficult for small businesses to break into the Christmas retail season. So this year, I’m looking to small businesses for some Christmas gift ideas for the whole family.

They say Christmas is really for Children, so let’s start there…

Finding diverse children’s literature has never been easy. But times are starting to change with authors creating diverse stories appreciated by all children.

1. Football crazy Clever Carmel

It’s the World Cup and like all football crazy children Carmel is very excited! But what country should she support?! Carmel is mixed-race and isn’t sure where her loyalties should lie…find out what she decides to do.

Get your copy of Clever Carmel here

 clevercalmel

2. Santana’s World

Colouring and activity books take children along the adventures of Santana and her brother Amari.

santana world

 

3. Hip and Hop

Akala’s hip hop inspired children’s picture book uses rhyme to tell the story of how the main characters overcome difficult situations.

Get your copy of You Can do Anything (Hip and Hop) here
Akala hip and hop

Interiors don’t always jump out as the obvious Christmas gift, but sometimes it’s nice to get someone something for their home.

4. Bespoke Binny

A range of handmade African print gifts, including lampshades, aprons, oven gloves and more essentials to add a touch of Africa to your home.

bespoke binny 2bespoke binny

 @besbokebinny

5. AMWA designs

This interiors company create their own fabrics and print designs using Adinkra symbols. The origins of these symbols, each with a specific meaning, stem from the former great Empire of Mali which span across West Africa. More recently, the symbols are closely associated with the Akan tribes of Ghana. The handmade fabrics are used to make/decorate lighting devices, cushions, throws and men’s accessories.

amwa bow tiesAMWA ties

@amwa_designs

6. Bonita Ivie Prints

Usually an afterthought during the hysteria of Christmas shopping is the wrapping paper! I discovered Bonita Ivie Prints at a Black Ballad event earlier this year. From printed wrapping paper to phone cases, notebooks and other Christmas stocking treats, Bonita Ivie Prints has you covered.

bonitia prints paperbonita - phone case

@bonitaivieprints

 

7. Celisha Books – mug collection

Another great stocking filler is the good old humble mug! Used by anyone who wants a hot drink during this cold festive season and beyond. Celisha Books has added a collection of ‘Superwoman mugs’ to their product line this Christmas.

celisha mugs

@celishabooks

Fashion accessories tend to look the same on the generic high street, but these businesses are adding something unique to the accessories market.

8. D-Jewelsus

I discovered D-Jewelsus at a pop-up market in South London and couldn’t resist this choker. They have other designs and jewellery pieces that can compliment any Christmas outfit.

choker collage water mark

9. Korlekie

A designer weaving her Ghanaian and British heritage into her designs is Korlekie. Having designed outfits for various British celebrities, Korlekie also has a line of hand woven accessories. They have teamed up with watch brand Vitae for these watch gift sets.

korleckie watch plain

@korlekie

 

10. N’Damus London

Another small British business using quality craftsmanship is British accessories brand N’Damus London, producing classic leather goods for women and men. I’m focussing on the guys for this one! From backpacks to cufflinks and belts you’re bound to find something for any men in your life.

ndamus beltndamus bag

@ndamuslondon

Beauty gifts are popular at Christmas and these brands are making their own unique offering to the Christmas market. While there has been an amazing rise in small business hair care companies, I’m going to focus on the skin for the beauty inspiration.

 

11. Akoma

The Akoma “heart” adinkra symbol represents patience, goodwill, faithfulness, endurance and tolerance. When I was looking for natural soap that didn’t dry out my skin I was lucky to come across Akoma skin care. Along with soap bars, they have gift sets of African black soap, lip balm, moisturisers and much more, for men and women.

 akomawatermarkakoma watermark 2

12. Bea Skin Care

I discovered Bea Skin Care at a Black British Bloggers event in October. This skincare range has been featured in Black Beauty and Stylist magazine and I’ve been using their vitamin infused konjac exfoliating facial sponges for my blackheads. They have a range of beauty products that can make for a nice cleansing gift.

bea skin

So there you have it…some Christmas inspiration for the whole family from small British businesses. Merry Christmas!

 

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5 ways to eradicate texture discrimination from the natural hair community


You probably think the title of this post is wishful thinking! Like most forms of discrimination, the roots are firmly entrenched within society. This natural hair movement has been amazing and empowering but there are some split ends that need to be chopped off! If they are not dealt with…we all know what holding onto split ends can do for the rest of your hair.

It’s no secret all natural hair (of black and mixed women of African descent – there are other mixed race people who do not have African ancestry) is not seen as equal! This has been propagated in mainstream and ‘black’ media including the natural hair community.

This debate is not new. So why are we still talking about it?! We’ve gone over this so many times (I hear you say in your head)! Yes, there have been many blogs and vlogs about this issue but there hasn’t really been much change. This summer the debate was ignited again on Twitter.

The hair texture discrimination debate is entangled with colourism. I understand the connection but there are dark skinned women with loose curls and light skinned women with thick afro hair. I’ll just stick to hair texture discrimination in this post.

Debating hair may seem frivolous to those who think it’s ‘just hair’! However, the by-products of slavery, colonialism and current anti-blackness mean that sometimes it’s not ‘just hair’.

I’ve only relaxed my hair once and when I went back to my natural hair, I didn’t really know how to look after it. Living in NYC, I got talking to other naturals and discovered the YouTube natural hair world and the hair typing system. I understand those who denounce these systems, as they can be subconsciously divisive. They’re only really valuable for companies to target us with products. I can’t lie though, I was keen to know which category I fell into (which is 4c, in case you were wondering). Now I realise it’s important to know my hair and not put myself in a box created by someone else. Historically, when African people (this term will be used throughout this post, referring to anyone of African descent) have been divided / put into categories it hasn’t really been for our benefit!

The debate

This is me:

natural hair, afro hair, 4c hair UK, London

Hair like mine is still considered by many Africans and non-Africans alike as unprofessional, nappy, coarse, tough, messy, [fill in another negative adjective]. Rarely would you see hair like mine used in advertising by brands, even those who ‘cater’ for the natural hair community. On social media, a larger proportions of likes, followers and validation from those outside and within the natural hair community is given to, for example, ladies with textures below.

texure discrmination 1
Source: Instagram
texure discrmination 2
Source: Instagram

There are some kinky hair girls/women garnering substantial followings on social media, but it’s been a slow uphill struggle compared with their looser curled counterparts. It’s ironic that girls/women with hair textures furthest away from European hair were pushed to the back of a movement created to uplift and dispel the negative connotations associated with afro hair. The natural hair texture discrimination debate can rage for years, but we now need practical solutions! Sceptics out there may think that discrimination in general is part of life and will never disappear, but I have some faith in hair.

We used our power to make big brands lose money from chemical relaxers and force them to sell products that suited our hair. We used our power to encourage start-up companies to thrive in a sector of the beauty industry where they never stood a chance. We need to be the change we want to see. We’ve done it before and can do it again.

The steps below are actions for us to contemplate – the natural hair community.

  1. Admit that hair texture discrimination exists
    It’s futile for us (whatever your skin tone or hair texture), to fight and segregate ourselves. We’ll never benefit from self-implementing divide and conquer strategies that were/are used to oppress us. However, if you benefit from a biased system without acknowledging it, you are part of the problem.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King Jr

Despite your privilege, you can still speak up. It’s the denial or silence from African / mix-raced women (of African heritage), with mainstream ‘acceptable’ hair textures, that contributes to dissention about this issue. Yes, we all have struggles and insecurities, but it’s fair to say it’s not all the same. Just acknowledge that. It’s not your fault that society perceives certain hair textures (those closest to European textures) to be more beautiful than others, but dismissing the issue or saying things like, “women with afro hair should just be more positive” is a very simplistic POV.

 

2. De-colonise your mind (it’s not easy but is possible)
We’ve all been conditioned to covet European beauty standards, for hundreds of years. There’s nothing wrong with complimenting women who have loose curled hair (compared to your own), but if you have tightly curled / kinky hair and dismiss women with a similar hair type, then you are also part of the problem. It indicates that you still aspire to European beauty standards without accepting or wanting to know about your own hair.

Words are powerful. Whether used in context, in love, in hate. Psychologically we’re already wired to associate certain words as positive or negative. Nappy, coarse, wiry, tough, messy. No matter how you try and spin it, using negative words about yourself, twists the knife a little deeper into your insecurities.  You’re letting others know how you view yourself. Let’s try and use positive affirmations. I will never describe my hair as nappy! Despite the volume, it’s actually delicate and soft (when I moisturise it). Rather than focussing on what your hair can’t do… ‘no ‘defined’ curl pattern’ blah blah blah; focus on what styles look good on you and rock them with confidence.

 

3. Understand your healthy hair journey
Along mine I’ve also learnt, just because someone has a similar hair texture to me doesn’t always mean we can use the same products. Yes, hair porosity is a good thing to know! It revolutionised my moisturising game and my hair thanks me for it every day with less breakage.

Don’t be lazy! Many naturals have told me, their hair is too hard to maintain and they just can’t handle it. Like most things in life, learning about something involves trial and error. YouTube was my saviour when I started, but I was also curious about my own hair, I bothered to make an effort to learn about one of my most prominent physical features. Treat your hair well and it will thrive inspiring you and others not to be low key embarrassed of their own hair texture. Do it for the culture!

 

4. Hold brands to account
In the social media age this is a lot easier to do. Shea Moisture and Cantu brands have encountered the wrath of the natural hair community this year, with the former making a public apology.

Remember, hair brands are businesses and go where the money is! If they see only certain hair types receiving validation and adoration, they will only showcase women with those hair textures in their advertising. It’s a logical strategy. However, if we continue to let them know we don’t like that they only show specific hair types, when women with kinky hair also make significant financial contributions to them they will start to show diversity in their branding. Also, fight for the ‘little guy’ who’s fighting for you! The natural hair movement has empowered many female-owned beauty product businesses to start up. These cater directly to us, keeping us at the heart of their ethos, so we should support them financially if we like being catered to and not regarded as an afterthought.

 

5. Teach those around you to love all textures
It’s not far reaching to say that many African / mix-raced men (of African heritage) show contempt towards kinky hair textures compared to others. They have also been conditioned to admire European beauty standards. We should teach our fathers, brothers, sons, nephews, cousins and other African men and boys around us, by example that all hair textures are beautiful (if we believe that of course)! Last but least, constantly teach your mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces and other girls/women around you to fall in love with their hair. One of my favourite Instagram accounts does with well in the video below!

View this post on Instagram

Quick tutorial on Shanillia's latest hairstyle on request of many! I used @tailoredbeauty Jamaican Black Castor Oil Edge Control for her edges and Perfect Coils Curling Jelly for her twists. I absolutely love the quality of the products! Normally I would add a leave-in conditoner for extra moisture but the curling Jelly was all I needed for a super defined and moisturized look! SONG: BLACK GIRL MAGIC BY @che_lingo — — #naturalhairdoescare #blackboldandnatural #healthyhairjourney #myhaircrush #naturalchixs #teamnatural  #curls_aunatural #healthy_hair_journey  #naturalrootsista #kinky_chicks1 #berrycurly #kinkychicks #naturalhair #twistout  #teamnatural #globalcoutureblog #happilynaturallit26 #naturalgirlsrock #naturalhairdaily #cwk_girls #mynaturalhairisdope #gocurls  #amazingnaturalhair #luvyourmane #naturalgirlsrock #dutchnaturals

A post shared by Mommy of Shanillia and Janelle (@shanillia26) on

Honest conversations are being had by the natural hair community, like in the documentary below by LAMBB, sponsored by Treasure Tress. However, hair texture discrimination will take some time to unravel, unless we are all determined to implement solutions rather than divisive strategies.

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Easy African hair threading for natural hair


African hair threading has been used for hundreds of years to style and protect afro hair. Raised in the UK; child of Ghanaian parents, my mother threaded my hair from ages 6-10 years. A hairstyle technique used by my grandmother and her mother before her. Many African women on the continent and in the diaspora, probably had this technique done on their hair at some point during their childhood.

Admittedly from age 11+, growing up in the UK, I didn’t appreciate the benefits or beauty of hair threading and stopped using the technique. Then the natural hair movement of the 2000’s kicked off! Many black women (including myself), embraced their natural hair texture. Learning all the new hair terminology that came along with understanding my natural hair, I also realised that my hair doesn’t like heat. I rarely blow dry my hair (probably 2-3 times a year – if that), but having 4C afro kinky hair, I usually wear stretched styles and make sure my hair is stretched after washing, to avoid tangles.

Sometimes I just embrace shrinkage (always liberating), which is best for certain styles, like wearing my afro out.

4c natural hair, afro hair, curly hair, natural hairstyles, how to grow natural hair, how to grow 4c natural hair, curly hair, length and retention

 

Like many 4C natural hair ladies, I use the traditional technique of African threading to stretch my hair without using heat. If you’d rather avoid or cut down on the use of heating tools, why not give it a try?! This is the type of thread I use, not sure if it has a special name, but it’s smoother /silky than normal yarn thread. You can use whatever thread you can get your hands on.

african hari threading

 

This video from Green Beauty explains why stretching is a useful technique for natural hair.

If you haven’t tried it, I’d recommend trying the African threading technique to stretch your hair. For me it produces similar results to a blowout. Below are some videos on how to do it yourself, from some of the YouTubers I follow. As always make sure you don’t pull your hair too tight!

 

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INTERVIEW: All Shades Covered – Beauty Platform for WOC


Channel 4 News reported that black women in the UK spend six times more on haircare products than white women. But what is the beauty buying experience like for black women, who are essentially, the jewels in crown of this burgeoning beauty industry?

Sanmi Ogunmola and Tommy Williams (who made it into the Forbes List – ’30 under 30′) met in Nigeria while working for a fashion and beauty internet startup company. It was challenging for customers navigating the fragmented beauty industry in Nigeria and upon return to the UK, the duo noticed similar challenges here. Flash forward and the e-commerce beauty platform All Shades Covered (ASC), was created, with the aim of providing women of colour (WOC) a seamless and efficient customer experience.

asc3

Photo credit: Forbes / ASC

What was the trigger for the inception of ASC?
Both of us have sisters and we’re aware of the effort and time black women spend on sourcing hair products, finding a salon to do their hair and the amount of time spent getting their hair done. Using our e-commerce backgrounds, we saw an opportunity to improve this experience.

When did ASC launch?
We spent months doing research and speaking to people, then had a soft launch of the website in October 2016, where we invited some people to buy hair extensions from the site. We also had some organic traffic generated via word of mouth.

“Coming from an investment banking background, my family were a bit unsure about me moving into hair and beauty, especially when I moved to Nigeria, as I’m not Nigerian.” Now they can see that ASC has become a reality, they’re a lot more at ease.” – Tommy

How did you choose the name, ‘All Shades Covered’?
It’s quite direct and describes whom we aim to cater for. Black and mixed-raced women come in all different shades and tend to receive an inferior level of service when it comes to their beauty needs – which we want to change. This doesn’t stop women of other races from buying our products if they also cater to their needs.

Has there ever been any confusion over what ASC means?
It’s quite funny actually, when we first started some people thought we are a gossip site because of the ‘shade’ / ‘throwing shade’ term. Others thought we sold make up and nude tights. However, when you visit the website it’s very clear that we provide hair extensions and products, so people are catching on.

How does ASC help the avid beauty consumer?
As well as selling hair products and extensions, we can also guarantee the quality of the hair as we know where it comes from. We deliver hair extension purchases within 3 working days, so that customers can get their hair done within that same week. We’re starting with hair products and will branch out into other beauty products, providing customers with a holistic beauty experience.

How did you decide what types of hair extensions to sell?
We did some market research and sent out a survey but the responses were quite varied, from customers preferring straight to lose curl extensions and everything in between! So, we started off with 3 style textures – curly, body wave and straight at 12 -24 inches.

“Selling hair extensions and products for natural hair aren’t mutually exclusive. Some natural hair women use extensions and wigs as a form of protective styling.” – Tommy

How do you ensure the quality of the hair extensions you sell?
We have partners on the ground in China who quality check the hair on various parameters such as, hair shedding rates and strength before and after washing. The hair isn’t Chinese hair, it’s just that the processing factories we work with in China have been able to streamline the hair production process while maintaining quality.

With your focus on hair extensions, do you feel ASC alienates a section of its current target market – black women who have gone natural?
We have hair care products suitable for women with natural hair and those who wear extensions and/or have relaxed hair, so we cater for all segments of our target market. We’re fully aware of the natural hair movement, but also acknowledge, that hair extensions account for a significant proportion of the market and hair style choices of many black women. We also have a blog with tips on how to look after natural hair and maintaining hair extensions /weaves.

How do two men provide tips on looking after natural hair and hair extensions?
Our team is made up of predominately women and we’re about to take two of them on a permanent basis. Some have natural hair, others wear hair extensions – they’re active on social media, passionate and knowledgeable about hair and beauty. We get a lot of advice from them.

 

ASC 1

Photo credit: ASC

Do you sell any UK haircare brands?
Yes, we do and we’ve recently added some to the site.

Is the ASC customer base only in Europe?
Currently Europe is our biggest market (especially Italy and France), but we’ve also seen some organic customer growth in parts of Africa, including Nigeria, Sierra Leone and South Africa. Expanding into Africa is also key goal for us in the future.

“Because the industry is so fragmented we have ASC hair reps – hair stylists selling our hair extensions to their clients, after which they receive a commission.” – Sanmi

As a new business in a crowded market are you worried about competition?
We like competition, it’s motivation! We’ve done our research and focus on providing the best customer experience. We’re aware of the competition but that doesn’t deter us from our own plans.

Any exciting developments?
Dyed hair extensions and kinky hair! We’ve had a few requests on these, so we’re listening to our customers.

What does the future hold for ASC?
We want to be a renowned beauty brand online and on the high streets.

You can check out the ASC website, which currently has a 20% spring sale and keep up with them on Twitter.

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Black hair and beauty, hair extension, kinky hair, ombre wigs, makeup for black women, natural hair, hair extensions, weave, hair weaves, black beauty

Is buying makeup becoming too techy?


Whether behind the scenes or at the forefront, technology has been used in cosmetics for years. Whether it be skin, dental or body enhancements. But now technology is becoming an integral piece of the customer buying experience, when it comes to every day makeup.

Walking through the makeup counters during Christmas sales in some of London’s department stores, women are still buying makeup in person. Although, as our lives become busier and with the increased use of personal technology devices, it seems nothing can escape the technology age.

I’ve sat in the chair at a beauty counter, where the MUA tries different shades of blush, eye shadow or face powder. It can be a nice feeling, having your own personal MUA whose only aim is to make you (hopefully) look good/feel great (so they can make that all important sale of course!). However, do we really need that human personalised touch or can we just do it ourselves?

loreal-shade-genius
Screenshot credit: L’Oreal website

To name only a couple, L’Oréal’s Shade Genius and No7 Match Made apps, have given consumers the independence to find their own ‘perfect’ makeup match.

I don’t think MUA’s at cosmetics counters will become obsolete from our department stores, but their necessity will diminish, as cosmetic brands embrace technology and put the power in our hands.

 

make up, lipstick, lip gloss
You can try on lipstick virtually to find a shade you like.

Screenshot credit: thelipbar.com

 

Even smaller brands like, The Lip Bar have a section on their website where you can virtually test which lipsticks and glosses suit you, then buy at the click of a button. You’re busy, on the go, don’t have the time to pop into a shop; select the face shade that is closest to yours and voila!

darkskin models
@Ohwaawaa is the model and face of The Lip Bar

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INTERVIEW: Treasure Tress – product box for Kinky Curly Hair


I was frustrated with the lack of quality products for natural hair and the poor customer service experienced when buying products. So I took things in to my own hands and started TreasureTress UK in November 2015, says Jamelia Donaldson, Founder.

I met Jamelia at an African Technology Business Network (ATBN) event focussed on up and coming online businesses. Jamelia was on the panel and I thought the concept of her business was perfect for my blog, so I asked for an interview to find out more! It wasn’t easy to match up our schedules so we settled for a telephone interview. On a cold January night in London this was the best (and warmest) option.  Despite her car being broken into (but not stolen), Jamelia still showed up for the call, so we jumped straight in…

Women are at the forefront of this latest natural movement; but children seem to be at the heart of TreasureTress?

Initially TreasureTress was supposed to be for young girls because I wanted my niece to grow up knowing how to take care of her natural hair. I only learnt how to take care of my natural hair at university and didn’t want her to wait that long before feeling comfortable with her hair texture.

“We focus on young girls as a starting point for everything we do. There is already lots of  natural hair information for women. Young girls are growing up in an era where they are susceptible to social media; which also represents an opportunity to engage them to celebrate natural hair.”

tt-mini-me
A TreasureTress Mini-Me

Who else does TreasureTress cater for?

There’s a monthly ‘Mini-Me’ subscription box for young girls, aged 2-9 years.  After so much positive response from older women we expanded the range, creating two additional boxes for ‘Tweens’ aged 10-18 years and for the ‘Qweens’ aged 19 years and older.

tt-collage
After high demand, Tweens and Qweens were added.

How does TreasureTress work?

You can subscribe throughout the year. If you order your box before the third of any month, you’ll receive it within that month, otherwise it will come the following month. It’s a rolling subscription, renewing every month but you’re notified about this via email. You can cancel or pause your subscription at any time, so if you’re on holiday or don’t need products each month you can pause and continue later. We also educate, by sending weekly newsletters and information cards.

“The relationship with our subscribers is quite intimate; there’s a constant dialogue”.

What products are in the TreasureTress boxes?

I have regular conversations with our subscribers about what they think of the service and useful products. Based on the feedback, I decide which products go into the box each month which usually comprises, a shampoo, conditioner, two styling products such as a gel and oil/serum.

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Beyond the subscription boxes, how do you engage with your customers?

Last year we launched the Mini-Me VIP Tea Party, for ages 2-11 years. We invite mothers and their daughters to central London for Afternoon Tea. It’s so nice for young black / mixed-race girls to experience having Afternoon Tea with their mothers – something they may not do regularly. We also discuss hair and do product demonstrations.

Our Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties, sell out all the time. Mothers have said how positive it’s for their daughters to be in an environment with other little girls who look like them, celebrating their hair.

Why the name ‘TreasureTress’?

It’s a play on words [‘treasure chest’]. I want women and girls to treasure their tresses / hair. Getting to know your natural hair and discovering new products is an adventure. When you think of treasure: luxury, gems, gold and diamonds come to mind and I want our subscribers to value their hair in the same way.

What’s the TreasureTress ethos?

Our tag line is ‘the hunt is over’, we’re helping women find products that work for them, through a luxurious customer experience. A lot of thought goes into the box presentation.

“Growing up, I was always obsessed with hair but didn’t have access to the products and YouTube wasn’t around back then”.

Do you operate only in the UK?

That was the idea, but we now have subscribers in the Middle East, America and the rest of Europe, especially France.

Do you work with British haircare brands?

We work with British and American, established and new brands. I use brands that I’m familiar with and tried myself. I’m always on the hunt for new brands and ask for samples to try before recommending.

“I had a few years of being a product junkie, which set me up perfectly for this business!”

 

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The main highlight of running TreasureTress?

There are so many, but is has to be the Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties.

The biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

Trusting my instincts. I worked in finance and tried to build TreasureTress at the same time, but I knew finance wasn’t my purpose. I was saving money and set a deadline of when I’d be working for myself and be in charge of my own time. I stuck to that deadline!

What’s in store for 2017?

Hopefully more collaborations and there will be more Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties.

We’ll be launching our first event for teenagers (Tweens) in April this year, it won’t be a tea party but we’re still working on the format. We’re not hosting hair events just for the sake of it, there’s always a deeper message behind what we do.

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You can keep up with all the TreasureTress events and get 10% off your first months subscription box, using my special discount code ADIASPORA.

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