Model & Entrepreneur Nene Marks Gives Us A Peek Inside Her Haircare Brand, Nene’s Secret
Nene Marks, the co-founder/owner of ethnic haircare line, Nene’s Secret (also here and here) has filled her line with secret recipes including natural ingredients from her homeland, Liberia, such as Baobab oil, Kalahari Melon oil, and Ghanian chocolate.
Marks first came to the United States at age 17 knowing very little English but filled with the hope of one day becoming successful enough to help her family. Modeling made that dream a reality, and for many years she represented major companies such as Captain Morgan, Monistat, Esprit, Molson, and more. She even starred in 90s music videos such as Jay Z’s “Who You Wit” and Naughty by Nature’s “Feel Me Flow”.
She transitioned into the hair business when she became co-owner of Dr. Miracle’s, founded by her husband Brian Marks. They grew the brand into an international name with Nene responsible for product testing and even serving as the original face of the Dr. Miracle’s Relaxer kit packaging. Wanting to start her own haircare line, the couple worked on creating Nene’s Secret for close to two years before it launched in April 2013.
We had the chance to ask Nene Marks a few questions. Check out our interview below.
MadameNoire: What kind of business lessons did you learn as a model in the business?
Nene Marks: As a model I learned how to respect people, how to be kind, how to be humble and how to not take advantage of others. It helped me because what I gave, I got back. Being nice goes a long way in the business.
MN: What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
NM: My husband helps me a lot. He is the day-to-day businessman… the one here in the office. I am here twice a week. My job is to create and test the products. I test all the products before they go to market myself. I do the same thing with Dr. Miracle’s.
MN: What are some challenges you face running a hair product business and how do you manage?
NM: The challenge is that there is so much competition in the market. The thing that helps us out is our secret recipe and having Brian running the business for all the experience he has out there. He has been around for two decades.
MN: What kind of trends in haircare do you forecast for the future?
NM: People are going to really start embracing their hair, however they choose to wear it. My hair is natural . You can wear your hair curly, or wavy or relaxed. People just want their hair to be healthy. That will be the most important thing.
MN: Is the “all natural ingredients” trend is here to stay?
NM: I’ll tell you one thing. Nothing is really 100 percent natural. That’s what I see. I just think some companies like to trick people out there. My products are not 100 percent all natural. We have natural ingredients, but the products have to be made a certain way, which our chemists work on. Also, 100 percent natural products have a shorter shelf life.
MN: What is your favorite product from Nene’s Secret?
NM: My favorite (and the one I carry around in my bag) is the BB Butter. I have baby who is a year old and I use the BB Butter on her skin. My children are mixed so there hair can be hard to manage. I have to use a lot of conditioner. I love that I can use that same beauty butter in their hair to also moisturize it. I also use our leave-in conditioner when needed.
MN: Tell us more about your work with the Birthing Project? (Marks says the couple has donated over $1 million to the cause.)
NM: We have been working with the Birthing Project, an international organization for improving birth outcomes for women of color, for two decades. The project is about helping the sisters be healthy and making sure that they have healthy babies because there is a high infant mortality rate for babies born in Africa. It’s very sad but it’s amazing to give back.
For a free sample or $2.00 coupon to use towards a Nene’s Secret purchase at Sally’s or Walgreens, email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. P.S.: Nene’s M.M My Mom’s Hair Masque is my pick for a must-try deep conditioner!