According to Gwen Jimmere, founder and CEO of haircare brand Naturalicious, she was a very "unlikely" entrepreneur to enter the field. "I was never someone who was even into hair or really into anything in the beauty industry. I wore lip gloss, maybe in like high school and middle school. But outside of that, I wasn’t beating my face with makeup and I wasn't doing fancy hairstyles," Jimmere tells The Zoe Report over the phone. "I actually hated my hair pretty much all my life."
But after a fateful viewing of Chris Rock's Good Hair, which showcased chemical relaxer melting through a soda can, Jimmere was pulled into the haircare world. "I found myself in my late 20s, being pregnant with my son," Jimmere says. "And I was really amazed and like simultaneously appalled that this chemical I had been putting on my hair and essentially my scalp was capable of disintegrating metal." After a run-in with the "natural and organic and healthy" products that were on the market at the time — "They made my hair look like a giant cotton ball," she says — Jimmere began formulating her own haircare using "all the usual suspects, like olive oil and shea butter and mayonnaise."
The rest, as they say, is history. Jimmere discovered one of Naturalicious' star ingredients, Rhassoul clay, early on — as well as the insight that now makes her brand uniquely positioned to thrive during quarantine, when salons and even in-person shopping can be out of the question. "Being someone who didn't know what to do with their hair I think helped me a lot," she explains. "I relate a lot to the customer that comes to us because they, too, are usually at that point with their hair. They’re frustrated, they’re annoyed, they're done and ready to shave it off and put on a wig or something. And then I'm like, listen, try this and use it this way."
Since, for those that aren't aware, Naturalicious is all about the Hello Gorgeous Hair Care System, a three-product set retailing at $56 and available for tight curls and coils or medium to loose curls and waves. Jimmere ideated the concept after seeing a skincare commercial advertising a multi-step set in the early Naturalicious days. "And I thought to myself, well, I've never really seen this for hair," she says.
Being a new mother only encouraged the concept of time-saving, easy-to-use haircare, too. "At that point, my son was a newborn, and he was not one of those babies that slept for hours at a time. I was lucky to get a cat nap out of him," Jimmere adds. The founder explains that there were organic products, and natural products, and products that undoubtedly worked for people's hair. "But what if you don't want to have your life revolve around your hair? What if you want to have your hair look like you spend hours on it, but you only spend 30 minutes. Why is that not available?"
This approachable system makes learning how to do your hair from the scalp up infinitely easier to manage, as well; and for those that need additional education, Naturalicious launched the Repair Your Hair Challenge, a crash course in all things hair. "Our customers are really eager to learn how to do their hair. What blew my mind is that a lot of people just did not know how to simply wash their hair," says Jimmere. "And I've said this for years, that people don't need more products, we have tons of products available now. They need more education, because I mean how many different leave-in conditioners are you going to use, and keep saying that none of this stuff works?"
Ultimately, the uncertainty — and hype — surrounding haircare does make sense, even though Naturalicious is on the path to enlightening as many shoppers as possible. "You and I don't have, like, different skin on our lips, you know? We can probably use the same brand of lipstick or same type of lipstick, and it might look good on our skin tones, right? But hair is so different from culture to culture, and background to background, and even person to person within the same cultural background," Jimmere explains. "So people are very conscientious and careful about what they put on their hair."
If that sounds like you, visit Naturalicious' website to explore the clever product line, or find it at stockists such as Ulta Beauty or Sally Beauty.