When Juanita was around five years old, her mom began relaxing her hair. Over the years, the relaxing considerably damaged her hair, causing Juanita to vow that her daughters would always stay natural.
Her reasoning was well-intentioned, but it came at a price to her daughter, Nayla. An eight year old at a predominantly white private school, Nayla shared the classroom with peers who already didn’t look like her—her hair was just another feature that made her stick out. Instead of viewing her hair with pride, Nayla felt self conscious about it. Her isolation was not only at school, but also at home; although Juanita kept Nayla natural, she wasn’t natural herself.
We talk about the lack of representation of black women in mainstream media—especially in the beauty space—but the fact that Nayla didn’t see herself represented in her own home hit Juanita hard. “I wasn’t a reflection for her,” Juanita said. “I didn’t understand the importance of that.”
Never underestimate a mother’s love: this realization sparked Juanita’s own natural hair journey and the Chocolate Kinks & Kurls story.
Nayla had asked Juanita what her hair would look like if she didn’t get it done. Nayla wanted to know if her mom’s hair would look like hers—Juanita didn’t know. But Juanita began her transition. She found a new stylist. Because she was always in the salon, some of her closest friends doubted that she could go natural. She proved them wrong. A big chop came soon after.
Years after that chop, Juanita is now the founder of Chocolate Kinks & Kurls, a growing natural hair care brand with best sellers like the Cocoa Cream Clay Wash and Lemon Rose Renewal Oil. Though her product names and colors are often food inspired, they are not edible.
The years between her big chop in 2012 and Chocolate Kinks & Kurls founding in 2016 are where the real chemistry of the brand came together. As a newly-natural pharmacy technician, Juanita was able to persuade her boss’ wife to talk him into letting her source a shelf of natural hair care products in the black-owned, independent pharmacy. The products were a hit! Juanita would consult shoppers on products right there in the aisle. The aisle consultations evolved and Juanita began to organize events and meetups for women to talk about natural hair care—some call her the Kurl Koach.
Juanita’s consultations took another leap when in 2013 she decided to leave her job as a pharmacy tech to source more products than could be contained on one shelf, opening up her own boutique for hair care products in her city, Fort Wayne, Indiana. It 2016, she took her boldest leap, closing down her store, deciding that instead of selling other people’s products it was time to sell her own.
Chocolate Kinks & Kurls originated from a mother’s desire to inspire her daughter. Thankfully, we all can benefit from some more self love and self care. Juanita is pouring oils, mixing products, and—most importantly—making Nayla proud.
Are you natural? Check out some Chocolate Kinks & Curls products today