Krika Bradsher provides hair products and hair salon services to African American women who want to wear their hair naturally – ie. curly. What is particularly interesting about Krika’s story is that not only is she a one-woman factory, but she also has not needed to market her products – people just come and find her, and she has her products in salon all over the country. Not only does she manage all that, plus her own salon, but she also has a 4-year old to bring up, not to mention looking after a bunch of chickens – and if you want to know what that is all about you’ll just have to listen to the interview! The key to her success is having a strong ‘why’.
It all started about ten years ago when I transitioned my salon over to just a natural hair care salon. Around that time women of color were starting to realize that they had nice hair. We had been taught that we didn’t have nice hair and most women would go out and put relaxers in it to make it straight. That involves putting a chemical on it called sodium hydroxide lye, or calcium hydroxide, and then its flat-ironed straight. It will stay that way until, of course, it starts growing out from the root area. So women will typically come in every 6 to 8 weeks to get the growth area touched up. But, as you can imagine, that process is not good for the hair at all. Many women have been getting relaxers in their hair continuously since they were children. A lot of women suffer from alopecia because of it, and often the damage can’t be rectified.
The natural way is obviously more healthy for the hair and often they can do pretty much the same things with their hair when it is natural, including wearing it straight. It may not last as long, but you have to learn to embrace yourself and enjoy what you naturally have. And I think a lot of women are just getting tired of all the problems they are having with their hair because of the constant use of relaxers.
I’ve always worn my hair naturally myself and I saw a growing need amongst African American women, many of whom were coming to me because they wanted their hair styled naturally. Because there are so many different ways to wear their hair now, so many more African American women are embracing their natural look and it is becoming much more acceptable now – especially in the workplace.
When I transitioned my salon I basically told my clientele that I wasn’t going to relaxers anymore. Some complained, and at first I thought “Oh my God, what have I done”, but a lot of celebrities were starting to wear their hair naturally and so after a couple of months they were ready to take the challenge themselves. And for me there was no going back because this was where my passion truly is, where my drive is, and where I can really help women become more appreciative of what they actually have.
After that I invented my own formulas for natural hair, called My Honey Child, especially mad for African American women, because most of us suffer from dry hair and we have to apply products that have heavy types of oils, heavy types of cream-bases to out hair to keep it hydrated so its not going to break off. and that’s what my line really focuses on.
To develop the products I basically played around in my own kitchen. I lost so much money because I was mixing all these things – I was letting family and friends try it and, of course, trying on myself because I have always been natural. So I thought, if I’m getting the ‘okay’ from friends and family then I must be doing good.
I still do everything myself in my converted basement – I have someone who helps me fill the bottles, but they are all hand-labelled – I do pretty much everything from answering the phone onwards, so I stay pretty busy with it. I am actually scaling back on some of my products because I actually want to focus on what’s doing well. so I’ve scaled it back to about 25 products from my original 50, so I can concentrate on the one’s that are getting great reviews and flying off the shelves.
My products sell all over the United Staes, some international stores, as well as a lot of online stores – plus a lot of salons – Naturally Curly being one of the bigger ones. On my website there is a full list of retailers who stock my products. And all those stores came to me – I didn’t have to reach out to anyone – I don’t solicit – that’s just not my style. I let my products speak for themselves. But I think that happened that way because I got in on the game very very early. But it took two to three years before it really began to take off. But at least I had my salon to keep me going through that time.
It was actually the salon that was the driving force behind developing my own products, because the products that I was getting in my salon were not doing what I needed them to do. And it was a great way to try out different things with people and get some feedback before turning it out on the wider world. And it has been a great way to grow my business because I just let it grow at its natural pace. so although I am very busy, there is no added stress or pressure to build it to a set plan. Though, in saying that, if there was one thing I could go back and do over, it would be to have started with a business plan, because i think I wasted a lot of time and money in those early stages on things that didn’t need doing.
But right now I’m just taking things as they come. There are a lot of products out there for people to chose from and I feel lucky because I am glad to be in the game.
Favorite Book: Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts
Favorite Resource: A chicken coop – you need an interest outside of your business.
Want to get a free audiobook version of the book recommended by this week’s guest? Click here to download it.
Natural Hair Wizard and Enchantress, Krika Bradsher started working in chain salons immediately after graduating from Cosmetology school and soon realized working with a chain salon that clients deserved a more personal touch.
“I have always been a natural hair girl, because I never had a relaxer. Sophia Sunflower Salon, Inc. has proudly pioneered natural hair salons within the natural hair industry. Our salon doors swung wide open in 1999 in Clayton, NC. Also, with the transition came the My Honey Child Product line, which is sold all over the USA and through online retailers as well.
My Honey Child product line was developed through extensive research and hard work. Krika persevered and researched night and day to make this line into what it is today – truly a one woman enterprise.
Krika still does the product manufacturing, packing and shipping and continues to work in the salon full time. One of the first products was the TYPE 4 hair crème and the Herbal Hair Cocktail, which today are top sellers in the natural hair community.
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