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