Since announcing to my readers that my 10-year-old natural hair blog, Black Girl with Long Hair, is officially defunct I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how and why I made this transition, and where I see my brand going. That’s a lot of ground to cover, so I am chopping up my story into bite-sized pieces to share over the next several weeks. Today I wanted to talk about a few things I’ve learned transitioning from natural hair blogging to running a 6-figure indie beauty business.
1. Natural skincare is the new natural haircare
When I first formulated my products, I used two of the most popular ingredients for natural hair: coconut oil and shea butter. I assumed people would use the whipped shea for sealing and moisturizing their hair after a wash/condition, or softening it before styling. After selling my whipped butter for a while, I was shocked to find that more people were using it for skincare than haircare. And now I would say it’s 3 to 1. As in, for every 3 people buying BGLH Marketplace whipped butters for skincare, only one is buying it for hair. It has gotten to the point that I actually have to educate new customers on the fact that they can use our whipped butters for hair!
Many of our customers have suffered from dry skin, psoriasis and eczema and not seen any improvements with drugstore lotions. Applying whipped shea, cocoa and/or mango butter to their skin packs a powerful punch when it comes to moisturizing, healing and softening skin over time. The natural skincare industry looks a lot to me like the natural haircare industry did 15 or 20 years ago: lots of big brands churning out minimally effective crap, a few mid-sized companies doing a great job (think Lush Cosmetics), and hundreds of highly effective indie brands looking to change our culture’s approach to skincare altogether. Add in the growing realization that skin is our biggest organ and absorbs a lot of what is put on it, and you have a perfect storm for innovation and change.
(On a side note: I think this is also tied to the explosion of indie makeup brands in the past 7 or so years. Big cosmetics companies have left lots of gaps that small companies are seeking to fill.)
2. I don’t miss blogging
I’ve had quite a few people say they are sad that BGLH is no longer being updated. I have to say… I’m not! I did it for 10 years, I gave it my all and I’m proud of what I did.
The fast pace of blogging wasn’t necessarily good for me and I think as I’ve gotten older (I’m 32 now), the reactionary nature of social media has become more distasteful. Stories hit the web and people are encouraged to form opinions in minutes. And from a blogger standpoint I not only had to form an opinion, but write or edit pieces on said opinion. Also, what I found in the last 2 or 3 years of doing BGLH is that many readers had stopped checking the site because they had learned all they needed to maintain their hair. So we were losing readers because we did our job of educating so well, lol. When I see the new generation of natural women on YouTube and Instagram, I am more than happy to step aside and let them do their thing.
3. Product creation is way more slow-paced than blogging
When you are in indie brand, product creation is slow paced because your R&D takes a lot of time. It takes me anywhere from 8 to 12 months, end to end, to come up with new formulas, test them and prepare them for sale. Whereas when I ran BGLH I was churning out blog posts daily. I think part of the reason I hesitated for so long in shutting BGLH down (there was a 3-year overlap where I was doing BGLH full time and BGLH Marketplace on the side) is because I was addicted to the fast pace of blogging. Giving it up made me feel really weird and out of touch. But now that I’m used to the peace and quiet I can’t go back!
4. I need to use my voice and be front and center
BGLH was very much a community site. I employed dozens of writers over the years, and regularly featured women in our Style Icon series. While I would pop up from time to time with a personal piece I mainly stayed behind the scenes editing and shaping the brand. Now that I helm a beauty brand, I am realizing the importance of sharing my story and using my voice. So I have been putting myself out there more and been so encouraged by the response. (To that end, I started a personal Instagram a few months back. Feel free to follow me there!)
I hope this was interesting and helpful! I would love your feedback in the comments 🙂