Five Years of Fancy Free

I am a scientist. I am also a natural hairstylist. I grew up in a salon. I styled natural hair in my college dorm room while in undergrad and I worked as a natural hairstylist in a salon while in graduate school. I had a relaxer though. But in 2010, all of that changed. I decided to grow my relaxer out. And that is how Fancy Free Hair & Skin got started.

If you haven't heard the story, here ya go....

In 2011, I cut the last few inches of straight ends off of my hair and ran to Target to pick up a jar of Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding to the tune of $29.99. I hated it. It left my hair sticky and flaky. I returned it for a refund the next day. I spent the next few months trying different products and styling techniques until I figured out that a wet twist out was what worked for me. There was one problem, my hair would still feel dry and brittle using what was available to me. From my natural hairstylist experience, I knew I needed a heavy, shea butter based product. Not waxy, pure shea butter or beeswax. That was too difficult to work with. I also didn't want it to smell like Dax Hair Grease. I wanted to smell like juices and berries. LOL! In 2012, I ventured to a Natural Hair Expo and found a product made by a natural hairstylist out of North Carolina. The texture was perfect but the smell was overwhelming. And she took forever to ship. And it was kind of pricey. So, I looked at the ingredients and decided that the ingredients list was simple enough for me to make something similar. So, I started making my own "pomade" to use for my wet twist outs.

The Whip Technique

The only problem was that I was using a "melt and pour" manufacturing technique, which required a waiting period to allow the product to cool and solidify. This is only a problem when you live with a clutz who can accidentally spill your precious hair product all over the refrigerator and kitchen floor while looking for a snack. During a lunch time, husband bashing session at work, I told my work aunties about my husband wasting my hair product and my favorite work auntie said "Girl, I know. My daughter is 4 and makes messes too. Just whip it so you don't have to worry about melting and it's ready to use immediately." That was 2012. I've been whipped ever since. I whipped for me. I whipped for my newly natural sisters. I whipped for my close, close friends. All my peeps' hair and elbows were flourishing. The result, flourishing hair. I started getting a lot of questions about the products I was using and my styling techniques while out and about.

The Hair Consultant

Keep in mind that I am a scientist. At this time, I was spending about 6 hours/day in an office, looking at paperwork and a computer, cultivating my inner introvert. I didn't need to talk to my staff much, so when random women would approach me asking really detailed questions about my hair routine, it made me uncomfortable. I wanted to help but I needed space and time to mentally prepare to shift into Natural Hairstylist mode. In 2014, Fancy Free Natural Hair Consults was born. I made business cards. I'd answer up to three questions while out and about. If they asked a 4th question, I'd give them a business card and suggest that they schedule an appointment for a consultation. Cuz ain't no free "pick your brain" sessions in the grocery store line. All jokes aside, Fancy Free Natural Hair Consults was not established to make money. I did not promote or market services. This concept was birthed to create boundaries for my introvert self and establish the value I had to offer.
I still offer consultations. We discuss hair routine, hair goals, hair care and hair products. In the early days, I'd give my clients a sample of my whipped shea butter concoction WITH THE RECIPE (I've since improved the recipe and manufacturing technique) and send them on their way. Except, my clients didn't want to make the product themselves, they wanted to buy it.

"Sell this" - Chezia, the fixer

February 2015, my girlfriend, who is like a sister, was at my house. We were getting dressed to go to a gala. She knew I was whipping shea butter but had never tried it. She saw me dipping my hands in this tupperware container and using the contents as body butter. So she did the same. Her response was "Sell this". If you have ever met Chezia, she is very even tempered. She doesn't get excited or emotional about anything. I interpreted "Sell this" as "This is good. Really good." So, I decided to make some samples to put in the swag bags for a gala we were planning for the next month, March 2015. I didn't know what sample containers were supposed to look like and ended up ordering jars that looked like pill bottles. I printed at work. No graphic designer, just the logo I was using for my umbrella company that housed my multi-level marketing business and some other ventures my husband and I were working on. Fancy Free Hair & Skin was up and running.

 

Unofficially Official

I was legit selling product in a clear tub

I didn't make any official announcement, have a launch party, or make a big reveal. I was just taking orders by phone and sending a PayPal invoice. If you know me, process improvement is my passion, so I swiftly made an improvement on that by launching an Etsy page for just the one product. That's all it took to be in business. A quality product and a platform to sell. No business plan. No huge start up team or investors. I never set out to start a business...it just happened. Now look at me.

In 2016, I took on my first private label manufacturing client and started the Product Development and Private Label Manufacturing division of Fancy Free Hair & Skin. I support other small businesses looking to create a product line. I am a firm believer in collaboration over competition. Black people have it hard enough. We don't need to be so hard on each other. But that's another blog for another day.

2020 Vision

My life plan was to be the manage of a Blood Bank for 10-15 years and then get promoted to
Laboratory Administrator where I would retire. But Jehovah had other plans for me. Building a multi-level marketing company opened my eyes to lifestyles that I never considered. I became open minded on how I made money and wanted to get more out of my daily life than sit in an office. I started Fancy Free Hair & Skin on a whim and it grew 500% on it's own in the second year. I was shocked but I recognized the potential it had if I actually put effort into growing it. Earning potential and positive impact on my Fancy Friend's health. (I've researched the data on carcinogenic ingredients used at a higher percentage in personal care products marketed to African-American women compared to other groups.) 
Each day, I get to do what I love. I took a leap of faith in 2017 and Jehovah has blessed me abundantly. I am in a space where I am creating the life I want to live everyday. There are challenges. I have good days and bad days. Some months I turn a profit, some months I don't. Every year, my company grows. I am able to provide employment opportunities to the Q-munity and live by example. If you show love to the hood, the hood will love you back.

These last five years have been the most challenging and invigorating five years of my life. Thank you for taking this ride with me.

Shameless Plug Alert:
Fancy Free Hair & Skin manufactures quality products for hair and skin, as well as provides natural hair consults for women who would like assistance on their natural hair journey. Our motto is "Keeping you fancy and free of chemicals." Visit our website, www.fancyfreehairandskin.com, to see a full range of our products and services. Sign up for our mailing list to receive natural hair tips and stay up to date on sales and the latest happenings with Fancy Free.
 

 

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