Hand­made: Mil­len­nial grows busi­ness with hair prod­ucts

South Florida Times - - BUSINESS - By JOCELYNN BROWN The Detroit News

DETROIT - Genevieve Anyiah is among the many mil­len­ni­als opt­ing to be fully self-em­ployed, rather than work “9 to 5” for a large cor­po­ra­tion.

Anyiah is mak­ing her claim to fame with an im­pres­sive line of prod­ucts she be­gan cre­at­ing back in 2013 that in­clude three types of pro­tec­tive hair cov­er­ings, as well as a grow­ing line of hair care prod­ucts — cleansers, pro­tein treat­ments, glazes, etc.

In 2012, the South­field res­i­dent “big chopped” all her hair off be­cause it was heat dam­aged. The fol­low­ing year, she de­signed satin bon­nets and knit bean­ies after not be­ing able to find prod­ucts that met her sat­is­fac­tion at lo­cal beauty sup­ply stores. She said they were “flimsy and cheap.”

Anyiah, who taught her­self to sew at age 14, said, “I just sat down and made some­thing that was black on one side and print on the other.” That was the be­gin­ning of a line of hair bon­nets she’s cre­ated, but be­cause it wasn’t some­thing she wanted to be seen wear­ing around town, she went back to her sew­ing ma­chine and de­signed a beanie. “As my hair grew out, I wanted some­thing like a hat to cover it. I would leave a flat twist out or some­thing cute in the front, but I wanted some­thing that would cover my hair (in pub­lic) while it was in a pro­tec­tive style — a bun, an updo, or some­thing like that.” And although her hair has grown out, she con­tin­ues to wear a beanie “al­most ev­ery day,” even in warmer months. A lighter-weight fab­ric is used to make them for spring and sum­mer.

Later named “Su­per Sexy Slouchy Bean­ies,” the hats are made with a drapey knit fab­ric, and add a funky sense of style to what might oth­er­wise be an or­di­nary out­fit.

In 2014, Anyiah launched her busi­ness — Em­brace the Nat­u­ral You, “a mul­ti­pur­pose hair­care line that caters to women with mul­ti­ple tex­tures of hair.” A year later, she quit her full­time job in global fi­nance “to fo­cus on Em­brace full time and ob­tain (a ) cos­me­tol­ogy li­cense.” She now works as a li­censed cos­me­tol­o­gist and “nat­u­ral hair cul­tivist,” mak­ing ev­ery hair prod­uct she uses in her South­field sa­lon (Em­brace Hair Art Sa­lon, 21751 W. Eleven Mile, Suite 114) “with the ex­cep­tion of (hair) color.”

Then, her sis­ter, Pearl Re­nee Goss, who once did sew­ing for an up­hol­stery shop after learn­ing to sew in high school, came on board and be­gan de­sign­ing and mak­ing satin-lined shower caps, large enough to fit over prac­ti­cally any hairdo, to be added to the com­pany’s col­lec­tion of pro­tec­tive hair cov­er­ing prod­ucts. She works out of her home in War­ren, where she has four heavy-duty sew­ing ma­chines.

Anyiah said, “The (slouchy) beanie hats have an in­ner layer that is con­structed from a stretchy satin charmeuse and an outer layer con­sist­ing of var­i­ous knits, for ex­am­ple, hatchi or jersey.” The weight of the fab­ric varies by sea­son.

The shower cap is made with a wa­ter­proof lam­i­nate and lined with a stretchy satin charmeuse. And the bon­net — the only re­versible one of the three — is made en­tirely of satin charmeuse.

The soft, smooth lin­ings pro­tect the hair from fric­tion, which can cause break­age. “A rough fab­ric rubs against the cu­ti­cle layer of the hair, and it can cause it to split,” ex­plained Anyiah, who buys her fab­ric lo­cally and from a com­pany in Cal­i­for­nia.

All three are all sold on­line at em­bracethen­at­u­ra­lyou.com, Em­brace Hair Art Sa­lon, pop-up shops, and trade shows. The satin Cus­tomers tend to be women rang­ing from 18-55 who live in big cities across the coun­try, in­clud­ing Hous­ton, At­lanta, and Metro Detroit. How­ever, Anyiah said, “We do more whole­sale busi­ness, rather than peo­ple buy­ing them at shows, on­line or at the sa­lon.” One of their whole­sale ac­counts is in France.

Em­brace the Nat­u­ral You has been fea­tured on “Live in the D” on WDIV Detroit, in the Michi­gan Chron­i­cle, and at Essence.com and Every­thingGirl­sLove.com.

Plans for the com­pany’s fu­ture in­clude hav­ing the en­tire op­er­a­tion un­der one roof . “We re­ally just want to have a larger re­tail space, have the sa­lon in the back, and a pro­duc­tion space fur­ther back.”

Detroit News Colum­nist Jocelynn Brown is a long­time Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@de­troit­news.com or face­book.com/DetroitNewsHand­made.

Con­tact Em­brace the Nat­u­ral You at (313) 2317354, em­bracethen­at­u­ra­lyou.com, or on Face­book.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF EM­BRACETHEN­AT­U­RA­LYOU.COM

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