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Kristin owner of KCamille NATURALS; a brand she built out of her desire to find a product that works for my kinky and dry hair texture: I think Black owned storefronts and online ecommerce sites that bring together the variety of quality products/services geared toward the Black diaspora is a burgeoning concept.
Can you please introduce yourself; name, where you from and what is the name of your business?
Kristin Jones, I am from Houston, TX and the name of my business is KCamilleNATURALS, LLC.
What inspired you to start your business, when and what is your goal?
I was inspired by my own hair care goals. I wanted to find a product that would help to moisturize and nourish my kinky hair texture without feeling overly heavy or drying. I was never much of a product junkie, simply because I didn’t want to spend excessive amounts of money on products I would never finish. From there, I started experimenting with my own hair butters/cream recipes. I eventually fell in love with avocado butter, and avocado butter/oil has been one of the main ingredients in most of my products.
What do you find most challenging about running a business?
Learning all of the nuances of marketing, production, sales, taxes etc…all-the-while having to stay on top of my full time career; which has nothing to do with business or hair products. It’s a steep learning curve to say the least!
What makes your business and your products special?
What makes my business special are the quality of the ingredients and the goal to use, as much as possible, all natural ingredients. Having a health and science background helps in review of scientific literature regarding each ingredient.
Currently, each product is homemade using high quality ingredients. I largely stay away from artificial colors, fragrances, harsh preservatives, or emulsifiers. Those products that do contain important ingredients such as emulsifiers (needed to blend oil and water formulas or they will separate) or preservatives (antifungal and antibacterial coverage), I am actively testing alternative recipes using natural “emulsifiers”, such as beeswax and soy lecithin, and natural extracts with anti-fungal/bacterial coverage such as essential oil blends. However, this takes longer to test and develop. My hope is to have a few more sustainable products such as these in the near future. Currently, my Soothing Oil Hair Serum is completely natural and my Avocado & Coconut Moisturizing Hair Cream only contains a paraben and formaldehyde free preservative. The Pure Clay & Marshmallow Root Hair Masque does contain a conditioning emulsifier derived from processed rapeseed oil and a paraben and formaldehyde free preservative.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from doing business?
Planning is key…and testing/experimentation is important. You can plan for something, but the outcome can be very different from what you expected. This does not stop you from planning, but it does force you to make room for the learning experience, to re-adapt, and to keep testing out your theory/idea until a viable option appears. This requires flexibility on the part of the planner, but sometimes the end result, although not what is expected may be even more successful.
Have you ever been to a hair or trade show? If so where and how was the experience?
I’ve been to several shows, as a consumer, especially when I lived in Atlanta. I thought they were an absolutely wonderful experience, especially in Atlanta, seeing so many women proudly displaying their glorious halos! I was also inspired by all the entrepreneurs many of whom, like myself, had alternate full-time careers but decided to do the hard work of making room for their passion.
Do you think it’s important to have a website as a business or is it more important to have social media like Facebook?
I think, eventually, it’s important to have both as well as other social media platforms. Whether positive or negative, our current society is extremely social media driven. In my opinion, to get your name out there in bigger ways, you definitely need to have some degree of social media presence. However, I think it’s important to have your own individual platform separate from other media organizations/companies. This should be the base where people who really want to know about your company can learn…a place where you govern your own content and messages without restriction.
Also see InSewFar: Liberian-inspired Black Business
Where do you want to be in five years?
Well, I want to be passionate about what I enjoy doing, which is learning about natural and healthy ways of enhancing and nourishing our hair and skin type. Would I like to be in every Target or Wal-Mart shelf in the nation? …umm, I don’t know about that. I want the quality, time, and research put into my products to show for themselves, and to be featured in stores/outlets that stand by the same ideals. Bottom line, I would like the business to grow in its overall self-sufficiency and be able to give back consistently to specific causes.
ABOUT BLACK NATURAL HAIR
9. Did you ever believe you had “bad” hair? If yes, how do you think you got that idea, when did it change and how did you change it?
Oh most certainly! I grew up in the South…specifically Houston, TX. It was not other races telling me, overtly, that my hair was “bad”; it was other black people…my family. Family emphasized from a young age that “good” hair was straight, long, and silky. I remember my mother being frustrated that my hair never grew and eventually slapped relaxer on my head at 8 years of age! Could it have been the constant chemical based products or excessive heat from constant hot combs and curlers that stunted my hairs growth? It wasn’t until college that I started admiring natural styles, mainly dreads, but not until I hit 30 while living in Atlanta, GA that I was confident enough to embrace my natural self. I sort of did my own gradual big chop and have never looked back!
10. Did you ever feel ashamed of your hair? If yes, can you please share one or more moments?
I don’t think I was ever “ashamed” of my hair, but I was very envious of the girls (both black and white) with long ponytails while I only had stubs. I thought fun and beautiful was flipping long straight locs. What our society portrays as fun and beautiful in the media didn’t help either.
11. What styles have you tried in the past (relaxers, Jherri curls, locs, afro etc). Which one was your favorite and why do you choose to wear this style now?
Prior to being natural, I was relaxed. I enjoyed it when my hair seemed long and straight, but as stress from my professional career increased along with age kicking in, my hair slowly but surely thinned and broke off. Also, I always burn with relaxers. No matter how much I greased my scalp or how mild the relaxer, I always burned. It was to the point that I was conditioned to flinch whenever my hair was rinsed at the wash bowl. Even now (I go to a natural salon for a trim and twists) when they take me to the wash bowl, a tiny bit of anxiety builds up inside of me as I lay my head back and the first few drops of water hit my edges. Those chemical burns truly left me scarred for life, lol.
We are doing a crowd funding for BlackFollicles.com to build the amazon.com or etsy of Natural Hair Care products. The goal is to give entrepreneurs like yourself the chance to expand their market and sell to Europe. Can you please take a look at BlackFollicles.com and tell us what you think of the idea?
I think it’s a great idea to reach international customers. There is a similar local store front, Tendrils and Curls, here in Houston, TX with an online base. I think you can definitely expand on what they have done online and create shipping perks for international customers.
What perk/gift would you choose and why?
I would probably start out with the Backers Wall text link
Do you support the idea of BlackFollicles.com? If so why if no why not?
I do. As I mentioned earlier, I think black owned storefronts and online ecommerce sites that bring together the variety of quality products/services geared toward the black diaspora is a burgeoning concept. I suspect it will be very successful.
ABOUT YOUR STORE
Where can people find you and your products?
Currently, via my website: www.kcamillenaturals.com and on my Etsy.com store: www.etsy.com/shop/KCamilleNATURALS
I will announce local appearances at popup shops, hair expos, festivals, etc on my website for local customers: www.kcamillenaturals.com
Thank you for your invitation to share some of my thoughts. I think you have a great concept to fuel Black entrepreneurship and Black consumerism from Black owned businesses.
Going Natural went on a search to feature the entrepreneurial women who are the driving force behind the growing natural hair care business. Our goal is to make it easier for our members to shop consciously and support our community. So if you want to be featured or you want to recommend a business to be featured, please contact us.
Also read why Lorraine said that BlackFollicles a great way to connect with customers