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Part III: 10 Amazing Small Businesses to Support

9:36 AM



Click for part 1 and part 2 of this series.

The past month and a half has been nothing short of a whirlwind of e-mails, products, and research. Compiling information about small businesses and their products is a lot of work -- but rest assured that it is indeed a labor of love. I've "met" some pretty amazing entrepreneurs and businesswomen along the way, and if I have to do it all over again for a part IV and V in the future, I'd do so in a heartbeat. But for now, I present the third and final (for now) installment of the Small Businesses to Support!

In the same vein as parts I and II, this list is by no means conclusive. But just for fun, I'm doing this one in alphabetical order!

AfroVeda

Backstory: A trained and licensed massage therapist specializing in working with cancer sufferers, AfroVeda founder Mala Rhodes has always been focused on providing relief to those in need. Inspired and grounded by her own father who lost his battle with cancer, Mala pursued the creation of AfroVeda as a means to provide a holistic way to care for hair, mind, and body. Five years ago, she shared a homemade moisturizer with a few women on a haircare board, which encouraged her to move forward in creating her line of products. The natural hair scene had not grown to encompass Ayurvedic practices as of yet, and Mala saw this as an excellent opportunity to share with naturals everywhere the benefits of Ayurveda for natural hair.

Benefits: AfroVeda products are based on the ancient traditions of Ayurveda, using some of the most potent and vitamin-rich herbs and botanicals proven to benefit both hair and skin. Because studies show that approximately 60% of what we put on our skin goes into our bloodstream, Mala and the AfroVeda team are very conscious of the ingredients chosen for products. AfroVeda products are also created according to a person's dosha (body type), not hair type. This is the traditional Ayurvedic method for treating hair and scalp issues - and customers enjoy much better results with products that are in line with their body's chemistry. All AfroVeda products are 99 - 100% natural, and do not include parabens, sulfates, pthalates, propylene glycol, PABA, mineral oil, paraffin, petrochemicals, DEA, synthetic colors and animal ingredients.

Best Sellers: The number one fan favorite AfroVeda product is the PUR Whipped Hair Gelly. It is used by celebrities, stylists, and everyday naturalistas everywhere. It was even listed in the list of favorite products in Audra Davis-Sivasothy's book, The Science of Black Hair. A close second is the Shea Amla Whipped Butter Cream. I took the Dosha Quiz (I'm Pitta with a lil' bit of Kapha by the way), and used products that were tridoshic (good for all 3 doshas). My personal AfroVeda favorites are the M3 Curl Quench and Carrot Seed Clarifying Shampoo Bar. The M3 Curl Quench is THEE go-to for protective styling, providing tons of moisture. I even used it for a wash n' go (under my styling product) and found that it left my hair super soft and moisturized for days on end. The Carrot Seed Shampoo Bar, I simply love -- and it shocked me that I could feel such a way about a bar of shampoo. Read more about it here.
 
Where to Buy: AfroVeda has their own shop, located in Grand Prairie, Texas. You can mix, match, and create your own custom products at the Gourmet Hair Cafe, and even make a hair appointment with a natural hair stylist. For those of us not located in Grand Prairie (or anywhere nearby), products can be purchased at www.afroveda.com.

Brown Butter Beauty

Backstory: Christine Gant started Brown Butter Beauty after a transitional period in her life. She was struggling with her weight and her hair - it was short, very thin, and almost bald in some places due to over-relaxing. She was very unhappy with the way she looked, and knew she needed to make some changes. After a lot of praying, she was determined to work on herself. She began exercising and eating healthy natural foods, which ultimately led her in the direction of a natural hair journey in 2000. After a  lot of reading and research, she began experimenting with making natural beauty treatments and formulas. Her hair grew back thick, and people began approaching Christine and asking to purchase her products. Brown Butter Beauty officially launched in 2007 with hair pomades, oils, and body butters. Since then, the brand has grown to include conditioners, shampoos, and other skincare products.

Benefits: Brown Butter Beauty products feature food grade oils and organic herbs. They are free from silicones, mineral oil, petrolatum, parabens, and sulfates. Products are cruelty-free and never tested on animals.

Best Sellers: Brown Butter Beauty best sellers include the Rhassoul Herbal Shampoo Bar, Babassu Cream Deep Conditioner, Sweet Milk Detangling Leave-In Conditioner, and Mixed Greens Hair Pomade. I fell head over heels in love with the Rhassoul Herbal Shampoo Bar - so much that I was convinced that it was made just for me. Seriously. It's in my top 3 favorite shampoo bars of ALL TIME. The Babassu Cream Deep Conditioner is worth it's weight, leaving my hair buttery smooth (that's really a thing for me) - especially my randomly kinky thicket of crown hair. Sweet Milk reminds me of Kinky Curly Knot Today, and is a detangling dream. It is also really lightweight, and incredibly ideal for transitioners and naturals with fine hair.

Where to Buy: Brown Butter Beauty is available in three locations across the US, and five internationally. Click here to find out if you can get some Brown Butter Beauty products in-hand, or if you have to order online at www.brownbutterbeautyshop.com.

Darcy's Botanicals

Backstory: Eleven years ago, Lysandra Taylor gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Darcy. By the time Darcy was three, Lysandra had began to embrace her own natural hair and lifestyle, and embarked on the challenge of mixing and creating healthy hair care products without harmful chemicals. Her hobby soon became her passion, and with support from her family, the Darcy's Botanicals line of products was born.

Benefits: All of Darcy's Botanicals products are natural/naturally derived and free of silicones, mineral oil, petrolatum, artificial colors, phthalates, parabens, and DEA. They area also handcrafted, ensuring that only the highest quality and effective ingredients go inside each bottle and jar.

Best Sellers: Darcy's Botanicals best sellers are the Madagascar Vanilla Styling Butter and Pumpkin Seed Curl Moisturizng Conditioner. I personally love love LOVE the Pumpkin Seed Conditioner and the Natural Coils Curling Jelly. Although it lacks the word "deep" on the bottle, the Pumpkin Seed Conditioner can in my opinion, hang with the best of the best deep conditioners. Seriously. It is super moisturizing, and has just enough slip to make shower detangling a breeze while leaving hair unbelievably buttery soft. After conditioning with the Pumpkin Seed Conditioner, I can't stop touching my hair (or sniffing the bottle...it smells like delicious pumpkin pie spices). The Curling Jelly, though? Wash n' go killa. Super defined, shiny, and touchable hair is definitely on the menu with this product - and it lasts for days! I'll definitely be keeping this one in rotation! As a special shout-out to transitioners (especially 9 months or less in the game with a substantial amount of relaxed/heat damaged ends remaining), I highly recommend the Coconut Lemongrass Transitioning Creme. It is specifically formulated to moisturize new growth, while not weighing down relaxed or straightened ends. Definitely check it out!

Where to Buy: Darcy's Botanicals goodies are available at a number of brick-and-mortar and online retail stores. Click here to see if one is near you. You can also purchase goodies directly at www.darcysbotanicals.com.

Hairitage Hydration

Backstory: Inspired by nature, life, music, and love, Hairitage Hydration founder and creator Sheena Crawford set out to solve one major problem with her line: dry hair. Frustrated with the lack of hydration and moisture her own locs received with traditional products, Crawford embarked on the journey of creating Hairitage Hydration - a line of natural product offerings designed to water hair like a plant so that it is nourished, healthy, and growing.

Benefits:The majority of Hairitage Hydration products are vegan, with the exception of the Oh Honey Shampoo Bar (which contains goat milk). Some products do contain gluten (wheat germ oil, oat oil, wheat protein) as well. However, all of Hairitage Hydration's products are free of petrolatum, mineral oil, silicones, glycols, paraffin, parabens, sulfates, and artificial colors.

Best Sellers: Soft Coconut Marshmallows is the lead seller, followed by Jar of Joe, Castor Infusion, Sprout, and the Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo Bar. I must say, all of the Hairitage Hydration products I received are the TRUTH! Soft Coconut Marshmallows is an amazing detangler and leave-in. I absolutely adore the Pink Lemon Berry Mimosa as a mid-week moisturizer (plus the fragrance is yummy). You already know how I feel about the ACV Shampoo Bar, but can I stop for a minute and talk about this Jar of Joe? I mean seriously, it smells like an amazing cup of coffee. The scent alone is invigorating - but I looooove this stuff for a scalp rub. It's one of two scalp massage products I'm crushing on (more on #2 later), and absolutely perfect for a stimulating massage with a product that won't weigh hair down. Plus, it provides tremendous scalp relief. I'm not 100% sure why yet, but I experience some relief from my scalp psoriasis when I massage with Jar of Joe and let it sit for about 20 minutes while I detangle and pre-poo my hair. Definitely going in the scalp health arsenal.

Where to Buy: Hairitage Hydration products are available in Loc Mamas salon in Decatur, Georgia. If you're far away (like me), order online at www.hairitagehydration.com.

HoneyChile HairLove

Backstory: Back in 2010, extreme breakage from a bad relaxer and dye job forced HoneyChile HairLove founder Tazia Armstead to big chop her hair and start fresh. With this new start, Tazia learned how to embace, manage, moisturize, nourish, and promote growth with her own hair. In 2011, she set out to support women in pursuit of embracing their kinky, coily, curly, wavy, afro-textured and loc'd hair with a line of products designed to hydrate, pH balance, and strengthen hair. Out of this vision, HoneyChile HairLove was born.

Benefits: All of HoneyChile HairLove's products are handmade, ensuring quality and freshness. They do not contain petrolatum, mineral oil, silicones, glycols, paraffin, parabens, fillers, and sulfates. They are cruelty-free and do not contain any harmful chemicals. Because of this, all HoneyChile HairLove products are safe for children.

Best Sellers: On HoneyChile HairLove's hot list are the Avocado Truffle Hair Milk, Lushcurl Custard, and Curl Glaze. Due to a shipping mishap, I was unable to test drive the HoneyChile HairLove products before this article went to publishing. But I will definitely update it once I have tried everything out!

Where to Buy: HoneyChile HairLove has two US retail locations, and four internationally. Click here to see if you're a part of the lucky six. But if you're like me and can't get your hands on any in-store, you can always order online at www.honeychilehairlove.com!

Komaza Hair Care

Backstory: Komaza Hair Care founder Rene Lesane has always had a scientific fascination with hair. As early as 18, she began to study hair - from structure to cellular division. She used this knowledge to help her friends and family care for their hair. Stricken with Ulcerative Colitis in her 20's, Rene's body was unable to properly absorb the nutrients needed to make her hair grow healthily, and a relaxer only made it worse. After a disaster with beauty supply store products, she decided she would be better off putting her previously gained knowledge to use. As her hair began to thrive, the inquiries and request to purchase products came in. Rene teamed up with long-time friend Jennifer, to develop a Christian-based business founded on the notion of komaza, which in Swahili means to "encourage growth".

Benefits: All Komaza Hair Care products are tested and analyzed in their in-house laboratory using high-powered microscopes. This way, they are able to understand and assess the quality and effectiveness of all products. They also make use of third-party laboratories to confirm the results. Every ingredient used in Komaza Hair Care products is scientifically researched and demonstrates proven effectiveness. Depending upon hair type and need, the Komaza Hair Care lines differ. In the Matani Line (for relaxed and heat treated hair), silicones are included for protection purposes. Some products do contain wheat proteins and silk amino acids, while others do not and are gluten-free and vegan. All Komaza Hair Care products are free of parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, lanolin, propylene glycol, and phthalates. All products are cruelty free as well. Komaza also offers a hair and scalp analysis service, which can give you insight into hair care  and product solutions for any hair/scalp challenges.

Best Sellers: Komaza Hair Care has tons of product offerings. On their best sellers list are: Coconut Hair Pudding, Califia Care Leave-In, Califia Care Moisture Spray, Califia Moisturizing Cream, Protein Hair Strengthener, Olive Moisture Mask, Shea Butter Hair Lotion, Aloe My Hair Leave-In, and the Hair Lengthening Serum. I really, really, like, really love the Protein Hair Strengthener. I like to think of Komaza Hair Care as the ApHogee for Natural Hair. The Protein Hair Strengthener spread in my hair easily, and I noticed increased strength after just one use - seriously. It didn't leave my hair hard feeling or dry, which is amazing for such a protein-heavy product. My next mission is to try out the Aloe My Hair Leave-In....my hair loves anything aloe-based.

Where to Buy: Komaza Hair Care is available in select retailers nationwide and internationally. You can always order online at www.komazahaircare.com.

Pura Body Naturals

Backstory: Inspired by friends who would travel to South America and beyond, returning with exotic butters and oils typically not available in the United States, Pura Body Naturals founder Santeyonne Powell set out to combine her DIY spirit and indigenous Amazon culture. Finding that most moisturizing and nourishing products for natural hair were based in shea butter, Powell set out to create a line of products with those who shea butter doesn't work for in mind. All Pura Body Naturals products are based in ingredients found in the Amazon Rainforest, with a wealth of natural and bio-active resources ideal for health, hair, and beauty. Founded on beauty traditions from Amazon natives, Pura Body Naturals was born.

Benefits: For those that can't stand the smell of shea butter, or your hair just does not agree, the Pura Body Naturals line is for you. All of the products are non-shea butter based, meaning they are filled with the likes of Cupuacu Butter, MururMuru Butter, Tacuma Butter, and Sapote Oil. In addition, all Pura Body Naturals products are free of silicones, mineral oils, parabens, petrolatum, and sulfates. And of course, their products are cruelty-free.

Best Sellers: Pura Body Naturals best sellers include the Cupuacu Hair Butter, Sapote Hair Lotion, MuruMuru Moisture Milk, and Chocolate Hair Smoothie. Ok, it's confession time. Get over here... I LOVE the Sapote Hair Lotion!!!! It is the truth. La verdad. Ukweli. die Wahrheit. Okay, I went to Google Translate for that last one, but I think you get the point. This lotion strikes the perfect balance of a moisturizing punch without weighing hair down. It makes me happy. I might write it a poem (what rhymes with Sapote?). In all seriousness, it is simply divine. The Chocolate Hair Smoothie is another goodie - not because it smells like chocolate deliciousness, but because it also leaves hair incredibly soft, smooth, and shiny. A win-win in my book!

Where to Buy: Pura Body Naturals is available in two US retail locations  - in Atlanta and Raleigh. The rest of us can order online at www.purabodynaturals.com.
 
Shescentit

Backstory: When Shescentit founder Nadia Ayo was looking for products to care for her hair in stores, she had an all too common experience: discovering she was allergic to many of the harmful and synthetic ingredients many of the products contained. At the time, not too many natural alternatives were available - which led to the creation of the Shescentit natural care line for beautiful hair. The Shescentit line of products is inspired by wholesome, natural ingredients that have proven benefits for hair of all textures.

Benefits: Shescentit products handcrafted from scratch in small batches to ensure freshness, and maintain oversight into exactly what ingredients are included in products. All products in the Shescentit line are free of parabens, mineral oil, petrolatum, SLS, DEA, and phthalates. They are also cruelty-free.

Best Sellers: Shescentit has a ton of product offerings that all sound equally delicious and interesting. Their best sellers include the Avocado Conditioner, Banana Brulee Moisturizing Deep Conditioner, Moisture Mist Leave-In, Riche Moisture Masque, Seyani Hair Butter, Coco Creme Leave-In Conditioner, Okra Reconstructor, and Coconut Sorbet. I have personally developed a love affair with the Avocado Conditioner, Riche Moisture Masque, Coco Creme Leave-In, and Macadamia Fixing Gel. The Avocado Conditioner is super moisturizing, and has great slip, making it an awesome in-shower detangling conditioner. The Riche Moisture Masque is simply decadent, and packed full of amazing ingredients. The Coco Creme Leave-In and and Macadamia Fixing Gel are a wash n' go match made in heaven. I also really like the Okra Reconstructor but because it is a protein treatment, I can only use it once a month or so. Come on, how cool is it for a product to contain okra?

Where to Buy: Shescentit products are available in a few retail locations - click here to see if there is a retailer near you. But if you're not lucky enough to have Shescentit on tap, you can always order online at www.shescentit.com!

The Pomade Shop

Backstory: Aside from a brief stint during her childhood and again in her teenage years, Erma Williams-Nurse has always been natural. Pomades have always been her favorite hair product of choice, and she grew disappointed when her online searches for all-natural pomades yielded nothing. As as result of this frustration, Erma collaborated with her husband, and The Pomade Shop was born. Although she initially started off selling only pomades, The Pomade Shop line of product offerings grew to include shampoos and conditioners at the request of customers. With her pomade-driven line of products, Erma and her husband are out to prove that pomades don't have to be pore-clogging, mineral oil and petrolatum laden products that weigh hair down.

Benefits: All of The Pomade Shop's offerings are cruelty free, free of mineral oil, lanolin, petrolatum, parabens, phthalates, and silicones. They are also handmade, and you can even request a special order product, customized just for you!

Best Sellers: The Pomade Shop's best sellers include Vanilla Growth Foundations and Growth Essentials, Sweet Simplicity and Sweet Indulgence Hair Stylers, Growth Fundamentals Coffee Pomade, Cafe Au Natural Coffee Conditioner, and CeraMoist Conditioning Pomade. I personally have a sweet spot for to products in particular - the Cafe Au Natural Coffee Conditioner and Vanilla Growth Foundations Pomade (my #2 that I mentioned earlier). I could not believe the moisture that came out of that Coffee Conditioner! I almost didn't want to use a leave-in afterwards. My other sweet spot for the Vanilla Growth Foundations Pomade is two-pronged. Not only does it make for an excellent scalp massaging product, it has definitely encouraged growth (results pics coming soon), and has slowed my psoriasis down due to the sulfur content - making it a new staple in my scalp health regimen. Seriously, when I massage in the pomade after cleansing my hair, I notice that at my scalp flaking (which happens virtually the next day when my psoriasis chooses to act up) is reduced/delayed by 75-80% which is amazing. FYI, a little bit of pomade goes a long way!

Where to Buy: All of The Pomade Shop's products are available in their Etsy Shop. Visit www.thepomadeshop.com to check out all they have to offer!

Tree Naturals

Backstory: Back in 2009, Tree Naturals owner LaTresha "Tree" Sayles struggled with moisture retention during the early stages of her natural hair journey. Out of frustration with a lack of quality driven products, Tree began making her own products from scratch. As her hair became increasingly healthy, friends and family began to regularly request products - creating an intense demand. From there, Tree Naturals was born. Dedicated to giving naturals a full blown pampering and spa-like experience for hair day, Tree's Asian-inspired hair line embodies fresh, clean, and relaxing scents.

Benefits: Tree Naturals products are made with Fair Trade butters, which is an amazing ethical step. Tree stands by her mantra of "If I won't use it on my curls, neither will you". Tree Naturals products are free of mineral oil, petrolatum, sulfates, silicones, parabens, and other junk. They are all hand crafted and cruelty-free.

Best Sellers: Tree Naturals best sellers include the Rice Flour & Shea Leave-In, Whipped Curl Creme, Natasha's Growth Butter, and Green Tea & Coconut Conditioner Bar. The Rice Flour &  Shea Leave-In is simply amazing, it is creamy, has tons of slip, but doesn't leave hair feeling weighed down or heavy. It is really an ideal product to lay the foundation for a great wash n' go or braid-out style. I also have a soft spot for the Conditioner Bar - because I was fascinated by it. It isn't soap-like, so it doesn't create suds, it literally melts into your hair like a conditioner. Co-washing with a bar? I think so! There were a lot of naturalistas on the fence about using a shampoo bar, due to pH concerns (because of the base). This conditioner bar is formulated just like regular conditioner, but in bar form so there's no worries here! For more on the bar, click here. I also took a liking to the Bamboo, Fig & Lotus Flower Deep Conditioner. It was super moisturizing, not too heavy, and left my hair feeling soft and nourished.

Where to Buy: Tree Naturals goodies are available at VIP Hair in Richmond. If you're not lucky enough to live in Virgina, you can always purchase products at www.treenaturals.com.


Whew! This list is INTENSE! But definitely, well worth it. All 3 lists were. It has truly been an honor to work with such dynamic small business owners and their amazing brands. But now, it is time to retire the topic - at least in long feature form. Maybe in a few months, one last hurrah. For now, 27 brands should suffice. If you missed the other 17, click here and here. I'm afraid to ask (because my inner product junkie will most definitely come out), but.... what are your favorite small business brands?

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2 comments

  1. Hairitage Hydration - abysmal customer service, excess of 30 days to receive products, moldy products, and consistency issues. AfroVeda - financial misconduct, abysmal customer service, customers haven't received their orders from six or more months ago. Shescentit - inconsistent production, the excuse that there are variations because of natural ingredients is valid up to a point, but not all natural companies use it as an excuse for their failure to mitigate natural variations with basic chemistry knowledge.

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  2. Kj Naturals on Etsy. I am absolutely addicted to the Stretch and Curl Custard, the Jamaican Jelly Grapefruit Lime styling pomade and the Marshmallow detangler and leave-in-conditioner. The Coconut Lemongrass scent is so good sometimes I just open the bottle to smell it, but the products also come in a variety of other scents.

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