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 why I haven’t expanded outside of whipped butter products.
As many of you know, BGLH Marketplace started out of my career as a natural hair and beauty blogger. And during that time I covered many indie beauty brands that were started by black women and grew to be incredibly successful. So when my own brand started (kinda accidentally, read about that here) and gained some traction, I assumed I would go down the same route — expanding my whipped butters into a full natural hair care line that would eventually be carried in a big box retailer. But I have realized that my lane is completely different. Here is why I’ve stuck to whipping shea, cocoa and mango butter.
1. BGLH Marketplace has morphed into a skincare company.
When I started making my products it was from a natural hair blogger point of view. I was using ingredients I’d heard referenced over and over again in the natural hair community. Imagine my surprise when I found that customers were buying my products for their skin. I came to realize that there are huge gaps in the skincare market — and they hit black women especially hard because we have higher rates of eczema and psoriasis. I have since shifted my focus and now market my products as multi-use, with skincare as my entry point.
2. The natural hair care market is well-developed.
Back when I started blogging in 2008 the ‘natural hair’ section of drugstores and big box retailers was anemic. And then Target began adding proven brands like Shea Moisture (the old school Shea Moisture, Oyin and Kinky Curly to their shelves. Beauty supply stores followed suit. Haircare behemoths like Pantene and Dove got in the act, releasing natural hair lines. Suddenly black women had a plethora of options when it came to natural hair care. There isn’t a gap I feel the need to fill.
3. I am not a ‘stir and pour’ beauty company.
In fact, I operate more like a bakery!
4. There is a need for whipped butter products.
Many people love shea butter, cocoa butter and mango butter. The problem? The butters are dense and difficult to apply. You have to double boil or microwave them down, and then slap it onto your body. And while you could whip your own butter at home, it is a messy and time-intensive process. And that’s where I come in. I have figured out all the details of whipping shea, cocoa and mango butter so you don’t have to. It’s not easy work, but it is valuable.
5. Shea, cocoa and mango butter can do a hell of a lot.
My whipped butters have eliminated at least 4 other beauty products in my regimen, and I stay glowing.
Most days I don’t feel like I’m selling just one product, I feel like I’m selling 5. There are those who buy it for hair, those who buy it for skin, those who buy it as a perfume alternative, those who buy it as a massage oil alternative, those who buy it to heal chapped lips, those who buy it for beard care, those who buy it to dimish pregnancy stretch marks. I feel like I have half of a full body line in one product.
6. Lots of people don’t even know what shea, cocoa and mango butter are.
When you do beauty blogging for as long as I did (10 years!) you can take a lot of things for granted — like the fact that everybody knows what shea, cocoa and mango butter are. Everybody doesn’t. Everyday in my storefront I meet people (yes, black people too) who have NEVER heard of them and have no clue what they do. That is definitely a gap in the market and a lot of my job involves educating people on the effectiveness of these ingredients.
7. I don’t want to create a full product line. I’m happy where I’m at.
I love what I do! I love the opportunity to focus on one thing and do it really, really well.
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Leila! Omg girl, it’s been forever. I am so excited to see how much you’ve flourished. Do your thing, and know that if you need anything, reach out!
Thank you so much for the kind words and for being willing to be featured on BGLH so many years ago. I hope you are well <3 <3 <3
Patiently waiting on the coconut oil free formula to be released!!! ✌🏾&❤️
I know! Me too, lol! In all seriousness I am so close! Stay tuned.
Thanks for sharing. I applaude your ability to recognize whats best for you and stay true to it. You are truly an inspiration. Be Blessed Sister Queen!!
Thank you! <3
Very interesting . I wish you the best of your continued success.
Is there a way to access the hair info from the old blog? Like in an archive? Gonna miss checking in to read an article here and there.
But also proud of your growth! Gonna purchase summo’ shea butter soon 🙂
Thank you! And yes all the archives are here in the blog section! Just use the search button in the top right corner. You will find anything you need.
Understandble! Your products will always be great! 🙂
I love that you provide this “behind the scenes” information!
You said you’re planning on releasing butters without coconut or almond oils. Any idea when that’ll be happening? I’d like to try those.
When my life isn’t a flaming hot mess, lol. JK, but seriously I lost both of my assistants in a one-week span. So I am in the process of re-hiring and re-training and it’s pushed my schedule back again. I don’t want to give a specific date, but I *know* something will be released in 2018.
your skin looks great! I use the products for skin. but the coconut oil gives me acne so i cant use it near my hairline or face. would lovvvve a coconut oil free product 🙂
Can I just tell you that I am IN LOVE with your whipped butters and, while I would never stunt another sister’s hustle, I hope you stay doing one thing really well! 🙂
Stick to the perfection that you’ve created. I LOVE this stuff. Getting ready to order even more and I want to thank you SOOOO much for creating this masterpiece for my lazy self. 🙂
Lol! Awww you’re welcome!
I just wanted to say that your African black soap is awesome! My skin has cleared up, and I get compliments on my skin. My mom loves the soap too. I will be purchasing more.
Yaaay! Yes, the black soap is like magic. It’s all I use on my face and body now. #cantgoback
youre dope for sharing this…i had no idea you had a shop in brooklyn, i will definitely be stopping by!
Thank you! Would love to see you!
That is awesome!! And maturity is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?? LOL! Congrats lady!
You are glowing! Congrats on staying on your own lane, producing skin care products for Black women. What a great idea! I sold whipped shea butter for a while too, and I have to agree they’re messy and time intensive, so I shut it down!
Lol! Yes whipping shea butter is a lot! And thanks.
I am so happy you shared that…I really like the parr where you said IDGAFwhat other people are doing… That is where i am at. Do what works for you that os your own lane and there is nothing wrong with that. I love shea butter and have my own products that are in the works of rising. Scented body butter! Keep up the good work…you are very inspiring! Blessings and Love Queen!!
Thank you for sharing your story! I used to follow the blog but I have not tried your butter yet, I had planned to but still trying to get rid of stuff I already have — I am a product junkie. Thank you for what you do. I do love whipped butters and go through them quickly. I actually brought cocoa butter, mango and shea butter to mix my own, well that was a few years ago and I still have some of the product collecting dust on my dresser. I look forward to buying your butter
We’ve actually met in your store, although I don’t expect you to remember. I’ve been a follower since you had the BGLH blog, and I was ordering online long before you had a storefront. I’m glad you are solely focused on this lane because YOU ARE KILLING IT!!! My skin is persnickety and your butters help keep my dry skin issues in check. And they SMELL WONDERFUL! I had to start buying my daughter her own so she would stop thiefing mine. I use the Cocoa-Shea blend, the Lavender, Lemongrass and I just tried the Sandalwood. I use them on my skin. She uses the Peppermint one in her hair. I’ve tried MANY butters and yours just have the perfect consistency and fragrances so I hope you’re in business forever.
Oh my gosh this makes me so happy!!! Thank you so much! I consider myself a disciple of the butters LOL. I try to learn all I can about them so I can make the best products possible!
Well done Leila! I love it when someone finds their niche in a big industry and works towards making their own impact no matter how little. Its liberating! I understand because I am in that process now. Keep doing what you do and keep being contented…that’s the only way we can really truly enjoy life. One day when I visit Brooklyn (typing all the way from Lagos, Nigeria!), I would def stop over at your store to buy me some ya whipping cream *wink* Though it sad to see the old BGLH grow (it was a great inspiration to transiting and going natural for my wedding *smiles*) am glad you are taking this new step. All the best, Leila!
*Waves* Heeey! And thank you so much! Do not fear, the natural hair movement is a powerful thing. I am so confident that new communities will emerge to push it forward.
I hate your BGLH is defunct, but I totally get the product expansion thing. If it aint broke dont keep expanding it. Your quality of life is important. Think of all the businesses out here that pretty much create just one or two products that are household names.
Yes! I take a lot of inspiration from Burts Bee’s early years, as well as EOS lip balm. Both companies are known for one product they do really well (although I know Burt’s has since expanded its offerings.)
Life is not all about money. You need to have time for you and your kids. Running a business is a great responsibility. When we find our niche we would learn contentment.
Yes. My niche is cozy. I love it here! Thank you for the comment <3
Love your authenticity! 💜
Well, ain’t no future in frontin’ LOL! But thank you though <3
I love this and am glad that you are staying in your lane. I’m studying acupuncture and I intend to have your products in my practice as I learn my new lane lol. Much love and blessings,and greater success is coming! Lina
Thanks Lina! I think with age comes some perspective. People say ‘stay in your lane’ as though it is a negative thing. In reality it really is a joy to carve out your place in the world and bloom in that space.
I loved reading this and this is my first time actually reading most of a blog that does not have anything to do with infants or toddlers. I have a question though. How do I determine which butter to use?
Hey Bianca! All of our butters behave similarly, so for most people it comes down to what scent they like.
Cocoa butter has the oiliest finish, shea butter the heaviest and mango butter the silkiest. The blended butters are way more absorbent then the single butters. Something about combining them takes things to another level. If you’re curious, get a teeny sample pack of a few scents and experiment at home to see what suits you best <3
Also, here are a couple primers on the many ways you can incorporate the butters into your beauty regimen:
Thank you for this. Seriously just encouraged me to stay in my lane. One question, though: I used to use an organic mango soap and, while it was great for my skin, its after smell was akin to cat pee. No lie. I’ve found this to be the case with mangoes (and peaches in general, which I didn’t notice till after using the soap). Please tell me that your mango butter doesn’t have a crazy after smell. And, I’m gathering from your beautiful photo that I can use your butters on my face without clogging my pores?
Lol! We use refined mango butter in part because the smell is much milder. So our mango butter actually has a pleasant, slightly leafy smell to it. Good for you for knowing that mango butter doesn’t smell like mangoes! A lot of people assume it and are disappointed.
So the butter I use on my face I actually haven’t released yet. It does not contain coconut oil — which is comedogenic (likely to clog the pores). Some people are fine with applying coconut oil-based products to their face, but I would recommend a patch test first because it can cause breakouts.
Wow! I didn’t realize that some people breakout from coconut oil. Right now that’s the only thing I use on my face after cleansing. Haven’t found anything that keeps my face soft and moisturized all day.
You are one of the lucky ones!
Thanks for sharing! Great insight!!!
Thank you <3