WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Naturally beautiful
WHETHER IT IS straight, kinky, coily or somewhere in between, natural black hair requires special care and products to keep it in optimum health.
Though many Bajans use imported products, Leandra Wilfred-Boyce’s quest to keep her natural hair as well as that of her young daughter healthy led to her developing a line of natural haircare products.
She is now selling them locally under the brand Healthy Kinks.
Wilfred-Boyce, who has been selling cosmetics for many years, said she got into making the products through learning how haircare products are made and the ingredients they contain.
Speaking from her Warrens Park North home where she makes and sells the products, Wilfred-Boyce said she had been selling beauty care items and to do so she had to learn the ingredients they contained so she could relate them to her customers.
She always wanted to have her own business and had been selling for people for so long, so when she saw a post in 2013 on Facebook where a Barbadian from overseas was looking for someone to sell products, she jumped at the idea.
“I had to research all the ingredients and there was a time when I got a shipment and the formula had changed. It was a different product and I did not want to sell it so after a time I decided that I would make some products,” she said.
Wilfred-Boyce would search online where she found a course creating haircare products and in 2014 started making and testing her own products at home.
“I liked them and I am a very particular person so if I liked them and they worked for me and my daughter well, then I would go for it,” she said of her products.
Though some of the products in the line can be used for chemically-treated hair, they are better suited for natural hair. She pointed out that her products are all vegan, do not use any animal by-products like honey or beeswax, but all naturally derived plant ingredients and oils and do not use any synthetic ingredients.
Seal in moisture
The products include shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioners and pomades which come in three different scents, including herbal infusion and fruity floral.
For people who suffer from dryness, Wilfred-Boyce said the leave-in conditioner works well with the pomade. She said since the conditioner is water-based and would evaporate quickly because of the hot climate in Barbados; the pomade is used to seal in the moisture.
Wilfred-Boyce said when she was in training, the instructor had a base formula which she followed and once she mastered that she started to develop her own products with her own twist. The hardest part of the process was getting the ingredients imported into the island since they could not be sourced locally. Also, since she was still buying in small amounts it was costly as she did not benefit from bulk purchasing prices.
“I have checked a few local people to get some ingredients such as coconut oil but the price point is so high that it would eventually have to be passed on to the consumers. If I could source more ingredients locally that would be great,” she said.
Wilfred-Boyce, who makes the products at home in her kitchen, said key to the process is making sure all the equipment is sanitised. For the pomade she must heat the oil and wax together, while shampoo is a cold process and the ingredients are just combined. For the conditioners Wilfred-Boyce said that since oil and water do not mix, she needs to have an emulsifying agent to get them to combine.
The products have been selling well and getting very good reviews, Wilfred-Boyce said. The proof is seen in the growth in her daughter’s hair and how the products kept her bleached hair soft and moisturised.
The clarifying shampoo does not strip the hair and leave it dry like many shampoos do, but cleans the hair effectively, she said.
“People are amazed when they use the product . . . . They call back and they are like wow, they did not expect it to work so well,” Wilfred-Boyce said.
Her plans are to have the products in health food stores and she will have a website soon, but for now they are only advertised on Facebook and Instagram.
The accountant by profession said being an entrepreneur had not been as difficult as she feared. Since she had been in sales for a long time selling Avon and Amway products and would have spent many days with her mother who was a vendor, she has in some ways become competent in selling. The challenge she faces is that since she has a full-time job she cannot dedicate all of her time to developing her business.
“From the business point-of-view it has not been too challenging in terms of costing and bringing in the products, I find that easy to handle because it is not totally new to me,” Wilfred-Boyce said.
With a big vision for her products, she wants to be known in Barbados as the place to go for natural hair products. She has plans to expand the range of haircare products to include styling products such as hair butters, styling gels and hair treatments.
“I never thought that I would love formulating as much as I do, but once I start it is like what else can I make, so we make our bathroom cleaners, disinfectants, I made a body butter and included insect repellent properties in it,” she said.
However, she has been taking careful steps since she does not want to do too much too fast and lose focus.
She is always researching ways to make the products better. With new ingredients becoming available she has to see how they can be incorporated in her products.