All Articles Tagged "Naturally Curly"
Speaking on things which you know nothing of appears to be a growing trend across the Internet and you can add New York Magazine writer Kevin Roose to it’s long list of recent offenders.
Beefing up the hype for his column’s latest series, “Dumb Money,” in which the writer says, “we’re going to periodically trawl tech blogs for the worst examples of Silicon Valley stupidity, then subject the investors behind them to public mockery,” Roose decided to give an example of a said stupid investment, and surprise, surprise he settled on natural hair. The columnist wrote:
“Some of tech’s clunkers never get off the ground, but others manage to get big, high-profile investments despite having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. (For example, what kind of genius decided to throw $1.2 million at NaturallyCurly, the ‘leading social network and community for people with wavy, curly and kinky hair?’)”
As a white man, I wouldn’t expect Roose to see the redeeming quality of a social network for people with wavy, curly, kinky hair or to understand the popularity of natural hair bloggers like Curly Nikki, Afro Bella, and the revenue-generating platforms they’ve built on such a “throwaway” concept. However, as a “lead business writer,” I would expect him to understand the value of it—from a business standpoint. You don’t have to be a part of the market that a site like Naturally Curly would appeal to to understand the business case for such a concept, and you certainly aren’t on your Ps and Qs if you don’t realize what a booming industry natural hair and it’s social media counterparts are.
We obviously know these things because we live it and breathe it every day, but it’s not as though the natural hair boom is a phenomenon we’ve kept hidden in the kinky-curly community. In December, USA Today wrote an article chronicling the shift black women opting for natural hair as opposed to chemically straightened has had on revenue in the black hair care industry. The author noted that:
“The number of black women who say they do not use products to chemically relax or straighten their hair jumped to 36% in 2011, up from 26% in 2010, according to a report by Mintel, a consumer spending and market research firm. Sales of relaxer kits dropped by 17% between 2006 and 2011.”
Since we know black women didn’t opt to forego hair products altogether, that 17% of sales clearly went right over to the natural-hair industry which is continously growing in investment and sales, which is why sites like Naturally Curly not only have redeeming qualities, they have remarkable revenue. Latoya Peterson went one step further in her rebuttal on Racilicious.com, writing:
The viability of the natural hair care market isn’t something only discussed in publications geared toward minority markets. Inc. Magazine ran a case study on Mixed Chicks after discovering they faced a huge quandary: their product line was so successful that Sally Beauty Supply allegedly created a knock off called “Mixed Silk.” Mixed Chicks is a growing company with revenues of $5 Million a year — Sally’s is an established behemoth with more than $3 Billion a year at its disposal. While the lawsuit may ultimately endanger the business the two founders (both WOC) built, the existence of Mixed Silk proves that even huge brands are looking to jump into the natural hair care market.
And here we come to the problem.
Roose’s thoughtless (and factless) comments illuminate some of the problems in Silicon Valley, namely that the space is controlled by people who are fairly myopic. If this market isn’t something they understand or participate in, it doesn’t exist. And these kinds of perceptions create an environment in the marketplace that disadvantages minority/women fronted businesses seeking investment to create products for their communities.
Peterson is absolutely correct. As we’ve talked about countless times before, the black community absolutely must strive for financial independence via entrepreneurship, but what that often looks like in it’s beginning stages is securing investment capital from institutions that are not owned and operated by black people. Sure, we see the value in creating products specifically for us, and though the rest of the world clearly should with report on top of report indicating that black buying power will reach $1.1 trillion in just three short years, as Black Voices points out, Roose’s dismissive comments are reflective of a larger mindset of individuals and corporations who have no desire in backing, much less buying, black. And then we are left once again struggling to prove our value in more ways than one.
In a lot of ways, the joke is on Roose because if he were more business savvy he’d be trying to get in on the goods and purchase some stock in companies like Naturally Curly and the slew of others that will no doubt follow—not to mention the wellspring of corresponding products that are popping up on shelves by the day. Unfortunately though, black people will still bear the brunt of his condescending remarks as long as people with power buy in to his mentality that investing in black is whack.
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Andre Walker, an Emmy award winning stylist best known for his work with Oprah, created a hair chart that would be a base for how most women of color identify their hair texture. Walker’s hair chart had four variations of texture from straight to kinky, Type 1 through 4. Thirteen years ago, Naturally Curly, one of the preeminent natural hair sites, with the help of their beckoning forum users, revamped the hair chart to include more breakdowns under the types. This is the chart that has become most infamous within the black hair community today. Now past Type 1 (straight hair) there is Type 2A-C (wavy hair), Type 3A-C (curly hair), Type 4A-C (coily/kinky hair), which better defines the variations in textures. However, as the natural hair community grows and more women are in search of basic education, a debate has sprung up over the usefulness of hair typing and what purpose it really serves.
Let’s sidebar briefly, before you dismiss this solely as another article on natural hair. Hair typing is used to market products for both natural and relaxed hair. How you apply heat or process your hair is impacted by the natural texture of your hair, therefore, it’s useful for all to be better informed.
Back to the topic at hand. How useful is the hair type chart? We’ve tried to break it down for readers on the site before, and many weren’t sold on it being a positive thing. Some feel that hair typing and the chart that helps you do so is nothing but a divisive tool that provides little information and easily misguides women on hair care. As Imani Dawson, founder of TribeCalledCurl notes:
“Hair typing as it exists today is divisive and ultimately destructive because it emphasizes one “type” of curl texture over another. It also provides limited information; just because your hair looks like someone else’s doesn’t mean it’ll respond to products similarly. Here are some important factors that the current hair system doesn’t take into account: porosity, strand size, and density. Curl pattern is the LEAST helpful in terms of caring for your natural hair, and figuring out which products work best.”
Dawson brings up several key points on the debate against the usefulness of hair type charts. The hair chart as it exists today is a simply a chart of curl pattern. Many female consumers who are uninformed (whether relaxed or natural) may simply associate their curl pattern as how to take care of their hair, while remaining ignorant to the key factors that really affect healthy hair care. The porosity of your hair, whether 3A or 4C can greatly sway how products impact it and what maintenance one needs in order to achieve healthy hair. Ever wondered why you and your friend have the same exact hair texture, or dare I say, “hair type,” but you can’t achieve the same styles she does? There’s more to hair then just texture and pattern.
This is not to say that one should just dismiss the hair type chart. It definitely has its place in the grand scheme of educating yourself on your hair. Karen Tappin, founder of Karen’s Body Beautiful, best sums it up by pointing out that the hair type chart “helps naturals be realistic about their texture.” She adds, “If you’re a type 4 hair, your hair won’t behave like type 2 hair, no matter how you style it or which products you use.” Personally, having been natural off and on over the past eight years, the hair type chart has helped me to have realistic expectations of my hair and provide a base for how to treat it. For the longest time I thought I was doing something wrong with my hair, and that everyone was suppose to have 3C/4A hair. I thought there had to be some magic product that I could put in my hair and snap my fingers to get some magic, but my hair was and is 4C.
When Shea Moisture, the organic hair care company aimed at women of color, hosted an event offering consultations on hair type, more than 350 women showed up. Richelieu Dennis, founder of Shea Moisture, spoke to the outreach of their event as it “speaks strongly to the need for guidance, education and support for women with textured hair.” Shea Moisture in their consultations actually took into consideration “other aspects of the hair such as porosity, condition, chemical damage and scalp issues to create a customized hair care regimen.” That is the progressive thought that needs to apply to how to use the hair type chart.
Michelle Breyer, co-founder of Naturally Curly, concedes that the hair type chart is a base to understanding your hair texture. It’s been 13 years since Breyer and associates built upon Andre Walker’s basic hair type chart to create the textured hair type chart of today and they understand the need to further inform the growing world of textured hair. Just as Breyer used her readership to devise the current hair type chart, they are currently working and listening to their core audience to further expand it to help women better understand their hair.
So let’s meet in the middle on the hair type chart and understand that in the end, it is just a base to understanding how to better care for your hair. As you begin to learn more about it, using the hair type chart as a guide can be a great foundation. But remember that as you browse YouTube or stroll down the hair care aisle, there’s more to your hair than just the pattern, and just because you say you’re one type doesn’t mean your days of learning and toiling over your hair are over. Proceed accordingly. Happy healthy hair!
What do you think of the hair type chart and hair typing in general? Does it help you or is it divisive?