Natural Hair Recruiting: Are the Scare Tactics Really Necessary?

It’s no coincidence that the natural hair business and communities are booming. When I went natural almost five years ago, I was excited. With an absolute foreign sense of my own hair, I embraced my natural hair because I didn’t “know that it could do that.”

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When I finally big chopped and came to grips with my natural hair, I felt conflicted. Yes, I was happy to be in love with my hair, but I saw dissonance among the natural hair community; dissonance that although one was natural, you needed to be a certain kind of natural, that you had to enter the cause in another way and usually due to a political reason. It was in that space that I learned about a kind of “natural hair recruiting.” Not nearly as in your face as some other groups, natural hair recruiting can also be introduced as education or enlightening. I saw women show powerpoints and slideshows to their friends and their daughters because they wanted to “show them what we could be.” I was never opposed to the principle, but questionable of the method.

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Uncle Funky’s Daughter vs. Hello Curly: What’s Really Going On Behind this Popular Natural Hair Care Brand?

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Sometime ago, I wrote about the annoyance of natural hair companies changing their ingredients, and named Uncle Funky’s Daughter (UFD) as an example of changing a cult product and upsetting several curly girls. However, the original UFD Curly Magic returned in the form of Hello Curly’s (HC) Curl Stimulator and faithful users flocked to the newly designed site to snatch up their old favorite.

Then…something kind of strange happened. On UFD’s Facebook page, they announced that they were bringing back the original Curly Magic and that they had the rights to the formula. Confusion ensued. This announcement, meant to excite consumers, only brought more questions. How could UFD hold the rights to the formula while HC claimed to own the rights? If they retained the rights to the formula, why did they change in the first place? Why didn’t the new owners introduce themselves sooner (it seems as if they only did after I specifically asked who they were on their Facebook page)? I, among others, didn’t know what to make of this. I had several people even contact me to see if I knew what was going on.

 

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Well, I did some research and got some answers (kind of). I was fortunate enough to speak with Tonya Goff, HC’s owner, about the potentially brewing conflict. Of course, this is only one side of the story, as I was not able to speak with UFD.

Tonya, who let me know that the original formula to the curl stimulator gel is not patented, made it clear that she does not want to be compared with UFD or their formula. However, it’s quite common in the marketplace for one company to analyze the formula of another product and attempt to copy it. Kind of like when you go into Sally Beauty Supply and see their GVP brand, which mimics products from Paul Mitchell, CHI, Clairol, and more, for a discounted price. Do they perform exactly the same? Usually not, but the ingredients lists are nearly identical.

However, Tonya doesn’t see this as something negative or deceitful (I may beg to differ as a consumer if UFD does not have the old formula). She said, “If there’s anything I can do to bless anyone if they want to start something on their own, I send them blessings, and if it’s for you [the consumer], then that’s good. It’s all about energy and I’m willing to share that with anyone. Hello Curly is about the energy of the brand, I remade the product the people wanted and it satisfied a need for them.” Well said. When asked about the formula, she added, “We can’t say which is which – I know she doesn’t have this one but she might have something else.”

I appreciate Tonya’s positivity, but it seems as if the decision to purchase UFD or HC is more of an issue of brand loyalty and using whatever formula works best for you. Personally, I bought the new HC Curl Stimulator and will assess how this product compares to the original formula of Curly Magic. At least I know the quality of that product was undeniable.

UPDATE: Before this article went to print, I was also able to speak with Renee Morris, who is now President of UFD. She likened their ownership of the original curl stimulator formula to the situation regarding Coca Cola changing their formula to “New Coke,” then changing it back after everyone demanded the original flavor. When I asked how the acquisition of UFD would impact this kind of situation (as the original curl stimulator was not the current formula when ownership changed), she assured me that they obtained all of the formulations associated with the brand in the acquisition, even the “archived” versions.

Confused yet? You’re not alone. Honestly, I am now uncertain as to whether I want to support either company further, because something doesn’t sound right. But, as mentioned above, it the product works for you, it works, whatever formulation it truly is.

Have you bought Hello Curly’s new Curl Stimulator? Will you purchase the revamped Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic? How do you feel about the transparency (or lack thereof) of natural hair companies?

 

This article also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair.

 

Staying True to Yourself In Corporate America

This is how my hair looks (well with crappy lighting) at work when it's out. If this distracts you...you might have ADD.

This is how my hair looks (well with crappy lighting) at work when it’s out. If this distracts you…you might have ADD.

An opinion about my hair color post on BGLH was about wearing colored hair in the professional world (basically stating that it can prevent you from getting a job or keeping your job). Even Lil Duval (I only know this b/c a friend texted it to me lol) posted today on Instagram, “I might be wrong but I don’t know no women with good jobs that got bright color hair.” Grammar issues aside, I want to give him a FULL on side eye, but he is not totally wrong regarding corporate and your overall appearance (not just colored hair, some people could have replaced that with several other characteristics).

The crappy truth is that in Corporate America, you are encouraged to not stand out in any way regarding your appearance because people feel as if it deflects from your overall work or it brings too much attention to you and Corporate America is basically obsessed with work (drones baby!!!). Hell, I’ve even been told that I should not wear brightly colored dresses or printed slacks to work (that were professional work dresses or slacks) because the color was “distracting.” And note, these comments were made by my friends, not my management or HR.

This point of view is bullshit to me, because I know plenty of folks who dress boring as hell and suck at their jobs (nor do they care, they only want to do enough to not get fired), BUT I know when to pick my battles. You won’t see me in HR fighting to wear thigh high boots even though my way of dress has absolutely nothing to do with my ability to complete my daily tasks. We have other hurdles we need to jump before the superficial stuff (’cause really, I care way more about my natural hair than thigh high boots – and I can easily change my shoes).

However…damn the man and save the empire (s/o if you know that quote)! I think (IMO) that you can do some things so you don’t go crazy sacrificing your creative well being for the sake of a paycheck:

  • KICK ASS AT YOUR JOB. It is unlikely that someone is going to call you out about how you look (again, not too far, let’s not with the mini dresses and 6 inch heels, time and place, y’all!) when every single performance review you get is exemplary. And I mean overtime work, encouraging collaboration with colleagues, being proactive, asking to lead initiatives, etc. Simply doing what you’re told is not enough. You need to realize that going above and beyond is a key to having people recognize you for your skills, rather than your hair color or how you look.
  • Know when the time is right. If you have a job interview at a new company and they don’t know you from Adam, it’s probably not the best idea to show up looking like you could be an extra from Love and Hip Hop. Again, you have to realize that people who don’t know you will assess your appearance FIRST, and one job interview is not long enough for them to truly understand your awesomeness, unfortunately. In my first interview out of college, I wore my hair in a bun with glasses. Y’all, I don’t even wear glasses in real life. But I will rock them to a new business meeting in a second. Think of it as your corporate costume. You’re modern day Super(wo)man.
  • Know when enough is enough. Compromise! Beyond my fear of all my hair falling out, I know that it’s not a good
    Okay, I would not wear this outfit to the office, but you can see that when my hair is pulled up, only a bit of purple shows.

    Okay, I would not wear this outfit to the office, but you can see that when my hair is pulled up, only a bit of purple shows.

    idea for me to dye my whole head the color of Nicole Richie’s – again, I may have proven myself to my immediate team and management, but to prospects, potential partners, etc – they don’t know me. I chose highlights because when my hair is pulled back you can only see some streaks and it’s not overpowering. I was at a conference today and had “warned” one of my former colleagues that my hair was purple, and while my hair was in a bun he came up to me and said, “Your hair isn’t nearly as purple as I thought it would be.” I doubt most people even noticed. But when I was wearing my hair out, my colleagues walked up to me and the first thing they said was, “Ooh, I like the purple!” or “Hey Pink!” I have nice coworkers.

  • Know your job’s dress code. If your dress code clearly states, “No brightly colored hair,” you can’t really be upset if people give you a side eye at work for dyeing your hair without first speaking to HR. Just follow the rules so if someone says something to you, you can kindly email them the dress code with the subject line “BOOYAH.” Okay, don’t really do that. But do it in your head.
  • Last, don’t adhere to any “standards” that make you uncomfortable. Sure, I wear my hair in a bun a lot of the time at work, but that’s mainly because it’s easy and I hate it when my hair gets caught on my work bag. If I want to wear my hair out, I have no issue doing so. If I didn’t feel as if I could even wear my natural (purple highlighted) hair without feeling insecure or “wrong,” I would need to find a new job. I know that’s it’s not easy to find a new job in our current economy, but it’s damn sad to go to work with your head down in order to stay under the radar. It may help to speak with your manager or HR and let them know how you feel and why.

Hopefully one day, people won’t be focused so much on our appearance and our work will be the only thing that matters…wait, who the hell am I kidding? Show me that day and glitter will rain down from the sky. But in the meantime…find some ways to add your personality to your attire so you don’t lose your wonderful self in the sea of corporate drones. Because that, my lovelies, would be the ultimate injustice to yourself. xoxo

What’s Up With All These Natural Hair Product Ads?

It’s no secret that the natural hair product business is booming due to the increase in women choosing their natural hair over relaxers. Even several companies that traditionally catered to relaxed and straight hair have come out with lines for natural hair. Countless ads featuring big, coily, curly and kinky hair displayed on buses, billboards and online encourage naturals to try out a company’s products in hopes that their hair will yield the same results.

However, I often find myself looking at these ads slightly confused. Why? Because the hair shown is too perfect and natural hair isn’t perfect. Our hair is beautiful and frizzy at the same time. But time and time again, we are shown images that imply that we should never have a curl out of place. Take this ad below for African Pride’s new texture manageability system for example:

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It could be her hair (I know the model wore her natural hair on ANTM), but it looks an awful lot like a wig. The hair is super shiny and perfectly coiffed. There’s no frizz and not a single stray curl poking out.

And then there’s Lottabody’s new Coconut & Shea Oils line – this is an ad for their Moisturize Me Curl & Style Milk:

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Is this supposed to be their example of a wash and go? To me, it looks like a flexi-rod set. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a flexi-rod set, but I find it interesting that this is their best example of curly hair.

There have also been accusations of companies using stock photo models or images taken from the internet to sell their natural hair products rather than models who have actually used the products. This gives consumers skewed expectations of their results. I recall the time Curls used my photo in a tip of the month on creating bantu knots with Cashmere Curls. Funny thing is, I never used that product. Some smaller indie companies that do not have marketing dollars also reuse stock photos and we’ve seen the same model on multiple sites. I understand not having the advertising money that big companies have, but they could reach out to customers for pictures using their products as examples.

But isn’t this all simply a common marketing strategy? It’s certainly not unheard of across the beauty industry (using false lashes in mascara commercials, photoshopping extreme shine in hair ads or using models with extensions, using celebrities as spokespeople for boxed hair dyes), but I do wish that companies would be a bit more sincere with their advertising.

 

Do you feel as if some natural hair ads are dishonest? Have you seen any suspect ads?

 

This post also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair!