Hello Queen designs products that showcase the inner strength and beauty we all have. Owner Fatima Camara who used to be ashamed of her natural hair supports BlackFollicles.com 110%. Read how she overcame her shame and why she supports BlackFollicles.com.
Can you please introduce yourself; name, where you from and what is the name of your business?
Hi, my name is Fatima Camara. I am an artist and designer based in NJ. I launched my clothing and accessories business “Hello Queen” this year. Queen carries transitional headwear and outerwear pieces as well as accessories that represent power.
What inspired you to start your business, when and what is your goal?
Since I was a young girl I had dreams of building my own business. I knew that I wanted it to be something that involved my artistic talents. Hello Queen is inspired by my passion for creating and admiration for strong black female leaders. My goal is to be recognized in both the art and design world. I want to make an impact on the way we see art and ourselves. My products showcase this inner strength and beauty we all have.
What do you find most challenging about running a business?
The most challenging thing is multi-tasking. Being able to run a business, work part time and take dressmaking commissions on the side can be a bit stressful. I tend to bite off more than I can chew. The reality is I love to work and make others happy.
What makes your business and your products special?
My products combine the world of art and fashion so that they are more than just everyday pieces. They make you want to take a closer look at the details to see what technique or images were used to achieve the complete product.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from doing business?
The most important lesson I’ve learned is timing. It’s important to plan out how much time it actually takes to complete tasks verses how much time you want to complete them in. Time is precious and really is “money”.
I also learned that it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes you really can’t do it all alone.
Have you ever been to a hair or trade show? If so where and how was the experience?
I have not been to a hair show yet, but plan to. I have been to fashion trade shows, and festivals such as Afro Punk Fest and DanceAfrica. I loved the energy, fusion of cultures and brands. I was able to see how they are set up and the importance of branding to make each company stand out.
I will be part of a fundraiser this December, “No Young Queens Left Behind Fundraiser”
I will be providing products for the giveaway, as well as selling my products during the event.
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 they both can go hand in hand. The website serves as your place to showcase your products/services in an organized and creative manner. Social media can act as a place to engage with customers, get feedback and acquire new fans. A website definitely is a requirement in order to stand out as a professional.
Where do you want to be in five years?
In five years I plan to be in New York with a larger studio space and more employees to assist with the growth of my company. I hope to have gained more experience being in various fashion shows and art exhibitions. My biggest goal is to make it to New York Fashion Week and exhibit in the MoCADA Museum.
About Black Natural Hair
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?
I never believed I necessarily had “bad” hair. I was never happy with the length of my hair.
For me, long hair was beautiful. When I got my first perm as a little girl I was so happy because for once my hair almost touched my shoulders. I didn’t have a clue on how to care for my hair. I wore braids most of the time. My mother owns an African Hair Braiding Salon. Most of the time, she or my aunts styled my hair. Isuffered with a lot of breakage, and split ends, that whenever my hair was out of the braids I was ashamed to wear it out.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I began researching on how to care for my hair. YouTube and hair forums led me to realize that black hair is beautiful despite what length or texture. I learned that healthy hair is good hair. I transitioned for some months before doing the big chop.
Did you ever feel ashamed of your hair? If yes, can you please share one or more moments?
Yes, I have. I was 18 at the time. It was first time wearing my natural hair out in a shrunken afro to work. I was working at Forever 21 for the summer. I took out my braids the night before and in the morning I decided that I would wear my natural hair to work. The funny thing is, I blow dried my hair, attempting to stretch it, but it was so hot that day that it shrunk! On my way to work people were staring at me, some were laughing and made comments. There weren’t many naturals in my neighborhood at the time, so they must have thought I was an alien for wearing my hair in an afro. When I went to work, customers weren’t approaching me as often to ask for help and I didn’t receive the usual compliments from people. I felt so ugly that day that I just wanted the day to end. I wondered why people reacted that way to 4C/kinky hair. And even if they felt that way, why did they feel the need to express their disapproval?
It’s sad because before leaving the house I believed that I looked great! Suddenly everyone’s comments and reactions throughout the day began to hit me and I broke down when I went home. It took a while before I wore my hair out in an afro to work.
Now at 23, my confidence has done a complete 360 over the years. Whatever style I have on, I wear it with confidence. Can’t nobody tell me nothing to bring me down.
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?
I’ve worn all kinds of braided hair styles from box braids, Senegalese twists, kinky twists, cornrows, buns, weaves to afros, twist outs, braid outs and wash and goes.
My favorite is box braids since they last the longest and give me that sleek look without having to straighten my hair. Now I tend to wear twists, picked out twist-outs or headwraps. I find that these styles are lighter, easier to manage and don’t weigh my hair down as much as the extensions did.
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 love the idea of BlackFollicles.com I am a huge supporter of black owned businesses and expanding the natural hair market to Europe. I had a friend study abroad in Switzerland and she complained to me about not having access to black hair care products.
What perk/gift would you choose and why?
I would choose the “Bad Hair Uprooted” Book and the front page feature. I’ve always wanted to purchase natural hair book and the sculptural loc hair style on the front cover is beautiful! The front page feature would be great for advertising my business.
Do you support the idea of BlackFollicles.com? If so why if no why not?
I 100% support BlackFollicles.com. This platform will enable new and established businesses to prosper and give customers a place to discover them.
About Your Store
Where can people find you and your products?
My products can be found on www.hello-queen.com and https://www.etsy.com/shop/HelloQueenHello
Also, if you’re in the NY area, come to the No Young Queens Left Behind Fundraiser located in Queens, NY on December 13th .
Thank you for the interview and for the work you have done for the community.
Also read why Terrene Fusions, a Natural Haired Entrepreneur supports BlackFollicles.com