At twitter, I clicked a link to a Bloomberg Businessweek article dealing with the exploding phenomenon of the natural hair movement created by people who are embracing and purchasing products designed by small business for natural hair.
No wait…. that’s what I WISHED the article was about! What I read was a kinda shallow report about how Target managed to cash in on the natural hair phenomenon and how the company has helped smaller companies.
The article’s bottom line is: “With the help of Target, a handful of small companies have created a fast-growing niche in the U.S. hair-care market.” That’s fine. But there’s much more to the story than that.
Of course getting your product to the people is very necessary. But a deeper analysis should be applied when highlighting the successful businesses praised by number-crunchers who only pay attention to companies which meet a certain financial criteria.
If I were creating a slogan for this new movement to explain why these products are banking big profits, the slogan would be: “It’s the QUALITY, stupid”.
I am now much more discerning about the quality of the products I use than I ever was when my hair was relaxed. Companies who make these products know that a significant portion of their customers are just like me.
The smarter companies know that as soon as some of us read the title of the product in the store, we pick it up and flip it over to read the ingredients list.
Because they’ve taken the time to formulate products which cater to a more discerning customer, the quality of the product(s) have in turn created a loyal and grown customer base for these and other brands.
Sure, getting your products on the Target shelves is a significant accomplishment. However, these companies are not just about clever marketing, or slickly talking their way into major retail stores, or a “shared sense of identity”, (like that article claims).
The quality of the ingredients used in these “mom and pop”-created products is often superior to many other mass-produced products on the shelves. Some of these brands even source organic and/or cold-pressed ingredients.
For example, buying a Shea Moisture product is NOT the same as buying some random, mineral-oil-laced, ‘this-is-for-the-blacks’ jar of crap.
The ingredients in Shea Moisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie, for example, include Shea butter, Coconut oil, Macadamia nut oil, Neem oil, Aloe Vera extract, and Vitamin E among other good ingredients.
In contrast, ingredients for Dark and Lovely’s Healthy Gloss 5 Moisture Hair Creme include Paraffinum Liquidum (another name for Mineral oil), Petrolatum, Paraffin, Dicetyl Phosphate, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, PEG/PPG/Polybutene Glycol 8/5/3 Glycerin, and Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride.
What the hell is all that? People know what Shea butter is. We know what Avocado oil is. We know what Carrot Seed oil is. But PEG/PPG/Polybutene Glycol 8/5/3 Glycerin? And Chlorhexidine Dihydrochloride?? Whuuut?
Many of us who DIY know that it’s possible to create various emulsions of various strengths and various qualities which do not include a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients often found in mass produced products. We make mixes ourselves and gravitate towards companies which focus on using great ingredients.
People who have started companies like Karen’s Body Beautiful, Kinky-Curly, Curls, and Shea Moisture did so with the mission to get the crap out; to basically use nonirritating and higher quality ingredients which work well on curly hair.
They’re not the only ones either. Companies like Darcy’s Botanicals, Qhemet Biologics, Soultanicals, Camille Rose Naturals, Sincere-Ly Naturale Apothecary and a slew of other businesses have all decided to focus on products which work well for curly hair.
And for the record, coily/curly haired women aren’t using the ‘mom-and-pop’ products just because the sistah who made it has an afro…. or knows how to rock a two-strand twistout… or wears a satin cap at night like many of us. That “shared sense of identity” isn’t enough to secure sustained loyalty.
We aren’t so simplistic that we only purchase products from these types of small businesses… just ’cause. There’s a reason. And that reason is quality.
Finding a great product in Target is gravy for a lot of us because of the convenience. But the substance is created by the hard work these companies put into making the actual product to begin with.