By Faith Riggs for EveryStylishGirl --
Tell me about yourself and your business, Girl and Hair
I'm the founder of Girl and Hair, I'm also a physician and training dermatology resident. Girl and Hair is a brand that came out of trying to find a solution to a problem. I wear a lot of protective styles. Most of the year, my hair is either in box braids, a sew-in weave, or it’s under a wig. I wear my afro sometimes in the summertime or when I'm on vacation. In the meantime, I didn't think it was wise to neglect my hair while it was tucked away. Before my product line, I would try to find products with ingredients that I would use in my at-home mixes. I couldn’t find it on the shelves. My husband and I really worked to create a natural product line that had really great natural ingredients and our system is designed to use at a very particular time.
Can you describe your journey of creating Girl and Hair and the Under Care System?
When I think about our journey, there’s different stages, right? There’s this concept to product development stage. How do you take what’s in your mind to an actual thing you have in your hand? Everything in our products stems from me trying things on my own hair. I have natural hair that’s kind of coarse 4c hair, so I wanted ingredients that were going to soften the hair shaft, and natural ingredients that would help promote growth. Taking that to an actual hair product took a lot of networking.
How and when did you discover your passion for hair care?
I think my passion is really in beauty. Beauty to me is synonymous to hair, and originally when I thought of Girl and Hair, it was a problem that I couldn’t figure out a solution for. Now I’m a physician and dermatologist; I feel like being a Black-female physician and someone who studies hair and skincare, it’s something I see every day in the office. But, a part of it too is not only the science, but helping women understand the importance of self-care. Just because you have some pretty weave, doesn’t mean you don’t need to take care of your authentic self.
What are some ways you practice self-care?
I’ve been really big on intention-setting. We often have a lot thrown at us consciously and subconsciously, and there are these micro-stressors in our life. I feel like practicing self-care for me is taking 30 seconds to a minute out of your day to center yourself and center your mind and understand your intentions.
I know you also work as a physician, so how does that impact your role in creating products for G+H?
As a physician, you take this oath where you don’t want to do harm to your patients. I feel like there are these certain ethics where you don’t want to let your patients down. There is this ethical character about the brand that I always adhere to. I never want to put out there that this brand will do this, this, and this for you. There is this big ethical coat that I wear when I think of product development and how we speak to our customers.
How do you think your marketing background helped when creating G+H?
Marketing is huge, right? You have to know how to promote your brand. Fortunately, I knew that brands should look a certain way. My marketing background really enabled me to understand why Girl and Hair looks a certain way and why it stands out on a shelf. It looks different, but that was intentional.
What is your biggest piece of advice for aspiring women entrepreneurs?
The biggest advice is don’t be so humble. Debbie Smith said once to be your own counsel. That always stuck out in my mind because I feel like often times, we doubt ourselves or we doubt an idea. We really don’t understand how dope we can be and how dope our ideas are.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
It’s from my Dad. He’s a very militant Jamaican man, and he used to always be like “you’re a woman and you’re Black and that’s two things you have to multiply by 100 and that means you have to work 200 times harder.” It’s something that’s always in the back of my mind that I really have to work hard because I don’t come from a big wealthy family.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the industry, and how did you overcome it?
There’s one moment that I specifically remember that will always stick out in my mind. It was earlier on in our brand and we had a meeting with a big Korean distributor. My husband is a German guy, and you know I’m there. Across from us, is this gentleman who didn’t look like me or Joseph. I remember telling him the story of the brand and why I wanted it to have certain ingredients and why I care so much about formulating an awesome product for women of color. Then he looked at me with his glass eye, and then looked over at my husband and said “yeah, whatever is in this bottle needs to be sold for less than…” I think he said a dollar at the time. He only cared about the number and how cheap you could make a product. It made me want to produce products and get to a certain level of success. Not to prove the gentleman wrong, but just to show the industry that we are a powerful customer base.
What has been your greatest success?
My greatest success is my loving family — my husband and my young daughter. Girl and Hair and medicine is wonderful and great, but I feel like my daughter is a loving, smart, empathetic, kind little girl, and I think that is a reflection of Joseph and I. The same patience and love we put into our brand is the same patience and love we put into our family unit.
Can you describe your personal hair care routine?
Right now, I’m wearing a traditional sew-in weave. Every night I use my own products; I’m a big proponent of that. I use the restore and refresh together on my braid down every single night. I wash my hair with the cleanse, and I use nourish with the cleanse. I always take vitamins and this month, I’m using the viviscal vitamins. Sometimes, if I have a little thinning around the edges, I put a little bit of minoxidil. It’s like a little hair care secret the derm offices use.
What are your best tips for someone on a healthy natural hair journey?
I think the first thing is “know thyself.” Know your own hair or commit time and effort to find someone who can do it for you like a good natural hair stylist — someone who understands healthy hair practices. I also think your hair and your skin is a reflection of what you take in. Rule number three is always, always, always do something for your hair every night. Get into the habit of doing something every night.
What woman in history motivates you the most, and why?
I have a few of them, but I think in recent history Michelle Obama, of course. I think this lady deals with so much, and she has remained un-phased this whole time, even beyond the office. I think she is the epitome of class and grace. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her speaking negativity. She’s always light and positivity.
What is your personal favorite protective style?
A traditional sew-in weave.
Book that inspired you the most?
The Four Agreements.
A dream travel destination?
All-time favorite quote?
“Be your own counsel”
Where are you located physically
Check me out/essences of Jamal.net
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