Can we handle the success of our natural hair movement?
The natural hair revolution wasn’t televisied, but it was blogged, websited, facebooked, youtubed, tumbled, stumbledupon, fotki’d, vimeo’d and twittered! Yes, we sisters sent the word out about our movement and it was a phenomenal success! Hallelujah! It’s a healthy and strong movement, and we can see the ripple effects of this strength throughout the world! Nappy, Kinky, Curly sisters ALL OVER THE GLOBE are embracing their beautiful God given hair, and their black beauty!
But with great success comes responsibility. It may be time for some of us to learn more about our success and how to maintain it, grow it, and keep control of it. We are now in the position of letting this phenomenal success take care of us financially. This natural hair revolution has lifted us out of self hatred, and can lift some of us out of poverty and into self reliance if we do it right.
I have noticed numerous sisters who have decided to move upward into entrepreneurship and I applaud them. Sisterpreneurs are popping up all over the web and at conferences and in malls and shops. They are sharing the knowledge that they have acquired through the hundreds of hours of meticulous research they have done. That is as it should be. They also are selling their own natural hair products.
We have seen our favorite hair blogs and websites hosting sisterpreneurs. When you visit your favorite beauty blog, you’ll see a long list of your favorite hair personalities in the sidebar, with cute advertisements for their products and services. The sisterpreneur website owner showcases the sisterpreneur product developer. And sisters purchase these products after seeing these advertisements. It’s a beautiful thing!
But is there a fly in the coco-shea butter cream? Many of our go-getter sisterpreneurs are in the beginning stages of their businesses. They don’t have staff putting together their products yet; they have done all the production, packaging and labelling themselves. So it’s not going to compare to the BIG conglomerates in terms of that sleek, polished trickery look that we’ve been conditioned to look for. And this is not the only issue for sisterpreneurs.
I have gone on hair blogs and have read sisters crabbin about simple issues they see with our black women entrepreneurs’ products that could be given the benefit of the doubt. I’ve read complaints about the cost of natural products, the distribution of these products, the lack of sophistication of these products, the lack of visibility of the products, the ingredients contents of these products. I’ve read that the kitchen table sisterpreneurs needs to get it together and lower their prices to match the conglomerates. Thankfully, not ALL of us are being so unfair, but enough of us are, and I feel the need to call us out.
Shouldn’t we take into consideration that these sisters have put in work without the benefit of huge financial backing of the hair care conglomerates? Yes we should. We also should consider that just because a product is packaged in a highly stylistic way, doesn’t mean that the contents in that package is worthy of our hair. Another thing to think about is that sisterpreneurs are not able to get the deep discounts on raw materials that the huge conglomerates can get. So she can’t afford to drop her prices to their level without taking a loss! Also, the conglomerates fill their products full of cheap, nothing chemicals and preservatives. You won’t find essence of true Ylang Ylang or rose, or jasmine in the conglomerate products, becaue these natural products have a short shelf life! They can’t sit on the shelf of a warehouse for years. The life force will start to dissipate in a matter of weeks. Our sisterpreneurs have done their homework and have learned that true essential oils are precious and valuable, and have medicinal properties as well as aromatherapy properties!
Ylang Ylang oil properties: Ylang Ylang (flower of flowers) has powerful antidepressant, euphoric and aphrodisiac properties. What is more, it is antiseptic, anti-infectious, tonic, hypotensive and can stimulate the circulatory system and calm the nervous system. It is considered as a great regulator of the human body.
Sadly, I have also read straight up hateration in some blog comments. More than once or twice, I have read following comment: “I aint supporting her, I can make that product myself at home!” HWHAAAT?!?!? *Holding up cardboard sign saying* C’mon, daughters!
(I also can make burritos at home if I go online pull up a good recipe, but I don’t wont to! Instead I can gather together a whopping six dollars, and get myself an AUTHENTIC steak burrito from Los Arcos restaurant here in the O! Plus, I’m supporting my latina sister, who always calls me “lady”!) 😀
Anyway, are we letting a lack of understanding of business issues, like supply and demand, bulk purchasing, shelf life, distribution costs, advertising costs, and other such processes of entrepreneurship cause us to say unfair things against our sisterpreneurs? I know that we sisters are too smart to let a lack of business savvy negatively tinge our hair movement. I don’t claim to know anything about these things either, but at least I know that I DONT know! I can easily google it and learn, or one better, I can hire a business oriented sisterpreneur to teach me!
Lets be aware of the fact that we sisters have done HUGE amounts of PhD worthy research. Yes, I said it! There are thousands of sisters who should have PhDs in the sciences: microbiology, biology, dermatology, chemistry; and the Healing Arts: aromatherapy, etc. Right this minute! In other words we have put in work, and must properly value all of the knowledge that we have acquired. We must hold in high esteem that sister who has reached this level, because she deserves that from us. If we don’t honor her, who will?
I remember when I was younger, the level of awe and respect we sisters had for those pioneering african american women of the natural hair care movement, like Diane Carole Bailey, Pamela Ferrell, Diane De Costa, Tulani Kinard and Lonnice Brittenaum Bower. These sisters were beautiful goddesses in my mind. I devoured every one of their books 20 years ago–many of which are still on my book shelf today! I keep these sisters in the highest esteem to this very day, because today’s natural hair care movement stands on their shoulders.
Without all the hard work that these black women and many others have put in our natural hair care movement, it wouldn’t be in the fabulous position it’s in today. These sisters battled for black women’s right to consider ourselves beautiful, most of the time with no support: Fighting the beauty licensing industry, fighting in court for the right to professionally braid hair, fighting for respect for our natural hair’s beauty, fighting for exposure (getting into Essence magazine was the catalyst to greatness back then) fighting to build their salons, fighting their own fears and creating gorgeous hairstyles, and most of all, fighting to teach black women to love and accept our naturalbeauty. We gave those pioneering sisters the respect they were due.
And now we have a new group of entrepreneurially minded african women who are moving forward in our new hair movement. This time, we have the benefit of the World Wide Web and it has allowed us to spread our beauty movement worldwide! In a way, we are learning the basics of hair care over again, but at the same time we are the new pioneers with the internet being available to us. Let bless the Lord that things are open to us again, and let’s not make it hard for ourselves in any way. We must always support each other and continue to help and educate each other in this natural hair revolution, which is fully our own! We were not the baby-making extras in this show. Once we get the proper perspective of the true value of our movement, our spirits will shift and we won’t desire to complain about the small stuff.
We must learn to be fair to ourselves and each other at the very mininum. We have created this movement and we need to grow in knowledge to maintain it. We need to learn more about entrepreneurship, branding and marketing on a grassroots level or a national level. We have to make our decisions on how we choose to do it. I’ve already seen Miss Jessie’s at Target. She’s made the decision to distribute her product there. The downside IMO is that her curly pudding cost $38 and her baby buttercream cost a whopping $58. I read the ingredients list and saw a number of preservatives that I dont think she had in the beginning. Carole’s Daughter is now a $30 million dollar company and is featured on HSN. These are the types of decisions that entrepreneurs have to make, and we need to be savvy in order to make them. We can’t waste our time bitchin’ over the small stuff. IMHO of course. 🙂
Also, we have to know that there is an anti-movement underfoot to undermine the natural haircare movement. We have to know that the conglomerates won’t let us go without a fight. They don’t want you natural and in control. It takes money out their pockets. Will we be able to come together swiftly to protect our movement in the same way we came together against Kanazawa? Already there are saboteurs out there circling. And the saboteur may look just like you. Don’t allow yourself to be that saboteur.
- At What Cost Unnatural White Beauty, Black Woman? (nachalooman.wordpress.com)
- Did We Use a Hammer To Kill The Kanazawa Fly? (nachalooman.wordpress.com)