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

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I’ve had quite a few people say they are sad that BGLH is no longer being updated.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

Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

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30 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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 ????

    1. Thank you. And it was really hard to back away from the idea that I was ‘letting people down’ by doing necessary self-care. But I have learned that self-care is never wrong. And for me that meant leaving blogging to pursue a pace of life that allowed for rest and clarity. And I hope the butters work well for you! It is all I use on my kids at this point. They are known as the ‘butter kids’ at their schools.

  4. 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.

    1. Lol! Yes the archives will be here forever! And yes, I think interest has been shifting from hair blogs for some time. A lot of the community now is strictly on social media (IG/YT). I also think that, as black women learn to care for their hair, there is less of a need to find resources online. More natural hair salons have popped up, more black mothers knowing how to care for their daughters’ hair. The times are changing.

  5. 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.

    1. LOL!!! Girl you have been paying attention!!! Yes, it has been a roller coaster and many of the changes in my professional approach match the changes going on in my personal life. It has been a long road, but I’m really happy with where the journey has take me.

  6. 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?

    1. Hey Adeola. I will always want possession of my archives. They currently attract a lot of visitors (and potential new customers) to my online store. Also, display ad revenue has been dwindling for a while now. In my last few years of blogging it had stalled completely (no matter how much new traffic I got, my earnings stayed flat.)

  7. 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. 😉

    1. Awww thanks! I was going full speed in my 20s building BGLH to what it became, lol.

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

  9. 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 black women’s websites and activities. For instance Facebook now as adds on everything you read. Pop ups etc. You will do well honey. I’ve purchased your products and love them shared them with my daughter and granddaughter. I’ve been broke and unable to purchase lately but that’s another story for another day. Keep pushing forward dear. God will not leave or forsake you there is a season for everything and you are being called and pushed in another direction. Listen to your inner instincts God won’t lead you wrong. God Bless you

    1. Thank you for the kind words <3 <3 <3 So appreciated. And yes! I definitely use Facebook ads to get the word out.

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

  11. 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??

  12. 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! ????????

    1. Yay! Let me know what you think. And yes, those early blogging days were really exciting. It is so incredible to see all the amazing things that came out of it.

  13. 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.

  14. 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 products that fit the bill. If someone came out with a coconut oil free line, I would be so happy. I’m allergic to it and it cooks my scalp. Also if someone wanted to do a natural deoderant without baking soda or arrowroot that I can use year round, I’m sold (Milk of Magnesia fits the bill, but can’t be sold during cold months)
    I’m happy your brand is doing so well…um…what about those weekend pop ups? I applied! (Lingua Nigra)

    1. They’re still happening! I lost two assistants in quick succession and it threw everything into chaos! I am finally training new team members so we can get back on track. I’m hoping to update all the vendors who applied within the next couple weeks.

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