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4 Things I’ve Learned Transitioning from Natural Hair Blogging to Running a 6‐Figure Indie Beauty Business

• Apr 1, 2018

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I’ve had quite a few people say they are sad that BGLH is no longer being updated.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 🙂

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Silvy | The Blessed QueensPatricia EllisJcBlack Girl With Long HairArcelia Recent comment authors
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Alicia
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Aw, this is great to hear! I loved reading the articles in BGLH and felt like I was following your journey! I def saw the blog get bigger and better, but I know how it goes. As a fellow chicago girl in a Brooklyn world, the hustle is real. I def saw a lot of crazy comments from people who really only wanted to voice their opinions rather than actually read and unpack an article. The natural skin care game is up for grabs is a real thing! I’ve been using Lush for over a decade and can’t find many… Read more »

Greer Livingstone
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Greer Livingstone

Congratulations! May you have continued success!

Alesia Vargas Martin
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Alesia Vargas Martin

I’m so happy to hear of your growth I’ve read your blog for years I’m happy to purchase my whipped Shea butter from you.

Courtney
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Courtney

Oh the memories! I first discovered your blog when I was a sophomore in college (back in 2009). This blog and a few others, such as The Natural Haven, were (and still are) wonderful resources that provided inspiration and information to me as I learned about this stuff on my head 😅. You did do a great job and I respect your new direction✊🏾

One of my go to butter shops just closed shop so I very recently made a purchase from your shop to try some things out. I’m looking forward to getting my package in a couple days! 😊🖤

Allisande
Guest
Allisande

My daughter has eczema and I would like to try your products over Cerave soap and lotion. Is the non whipped Shea. Would you recommend any of your other products??

Leslie
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Leslie

Smart!

Allisande
Guest
Allisande

Disregard my inquiry. I read the reviews and didn’t realize you had a location in Brooklyn. I will stop through.

Kathy Galloway
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Kathy Galloway

As a follower of BGLH since I first went natural about5‐6 years ago I’ve always found you blogg informative and helpful. I thank you for that. I commenting today to encourage you young black woman. It is courageous of you to step out and to widen your territories. I know financially this has been a big step and very frightening. Not to worry. You have an excellent product that is far superior to what’s on the open market. I urge you to rely on more than just word of mouth advertising. Maybe invest in advertising on the web through other… Read more »

Jill R Anderson
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Jill R Anderson

Congrats on your transition, 🙂 Thanks for the time and contribution and much success with all future endeavors !1

Misty
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Misty

BGLH, in my opinion, was the best natural hair care blog I’ve run across. No one did it better! I’ll be waiting to see what things you’re cooking up in the kitchen. 😉

Adeola
Guest

As one of the writers you hired, I am happy to see you successfully transition into the beauty business. But may I ask why you didn’t sell the site or have the ad revenue generate passive income for you?

Alison
Guest
Alison

I’m happy for your transition. I was there when the stories went from natural hair care to race issues, when you took a break from it because it was too much negativity for your own sanity, when you came back with lighter stories, when you merge the blog with your marketplace and finally when the marketplace slowly but surely took over.

Arosenbklyn
Guest
Arosenbklyn

Good for you! I used to follow the natural hair blogs back when I went natural ten years ago, and stayed loyal for a few years. Then my interest shifted from hair and so did my keeping up with the blogs. However a white friend of my is having a black daughter and I was trying to find resources for her and am discovering many of the blogs that helped me through my early days, months and years have closed shop or shifted direction entirely. Yay for growth. But even more yay for the archives.

Arcelia
Guest
Arcelia

Refreshing to hear someone follow their own path and honor themselves this way. Can’t wait to try your butters for my pregnancy and beyond 😊

Jc
Guest

Leila, as you already know, I thoroughly support you! Side note — I am a social‐media phobe but I love your personal insta! Your body is fab by the way! Well done on ticking that box in addition to all the others that you have ticked along the way!

Patricia Ellis
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Patricia Ellis

I miss the blog because I liked to read stories about how women decided to go natural and how natural hair was received around the world. However I can understand why you choose to leave the world of blogging behind; folks form opinions and have a hard time changing them when more information becomes available.
I’ve had to get creative when trying to find information on natural hair care. My hair needs have changed since I big chopped in 2001. If anyone can help me find information about natural hair care, I would appreciate it.

Silvy | The Blessed Queens
Guest

Blogging for 10 years! Wow and congrats on sticking through he thick and thin! You are doing a awesome work and truth is now we are getting to see you more and more 🙂

Keep up the great work!

xo, Silvy

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