”There’s an empowerment aspect,” explained Jamyla Bennu, who started out making products for her own ”natural,” or chemically untreated, hair.
Oyin’s products average $10 and rely on shea butter, honey and other cupboard ingredients. The Bennus ship more than 100 orders weekly, each averaging $40.
”I used to go to the post office once or twice a week on my bicycle,” she said. ”[Now] three or four times a week, the post office picks up five or eight bins of packages from us.”
Krika Bradsher began her business, My Honey Child, after years styling natural hair in her Raleigh, N.C. salon.
”I found out using a lot of commercial products, that they weren’t really designed for our hair…We don’t have any say-so in designing them,” said Bradsher, who earns $3,000 a month selling products like soy moisturizers.
The brands are relatively small, marketed largely through black-aimed Web sites, salons and festivals like Atlanta’s annual World Natural Hair, Health & Beauty Show.
Vendors ballooned from 25 at the outset of the 11-year-old show to 110 on average, said founder Taliah Waajid. About 10,000 consumers are expected in April, mostly women lured by the increased versatility of natural hair.
”You have a lot of younger stylists coming up, and they’re adding creativity and creating styles that can work in the workplace,” Waajid said, pointing to Sisterlocks, a popular version of slender, easily curled dreadlocks.