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Stella’s Sister – The Evolution of Natural Hair – Interview

 

Stella’s Sister is a family-owned hair and skin care company that creates products for men and women. Their hair care products are created specifically for natural, chemically-treated, and those transitioning from relaxed to natural.  We sat down with founder, Yulonda Bardney, to get her take on the “Evolution” of Natural Hair.

UMM:  Good afternoon Yulonda and thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share with our readers information about your company, Stella’s Sister.

YB:  Congratulations on the start of your new magazine.  I know it will be a great success.  Thank you for including our company in your first issue.

UMM:  If you don’t mind, I’ll just dive right in.  For those of our readers who have never heard of Stella’s Sister, give us a quick snapshot on what it is.

YB:  Stella’s Sister is a natural hair and skin care company located in Bolingbrook, IL.  We have products in six beauty supply stores, seven beauty salons, twenty barber shops in Illinois and available online at stellasister.com.  We manufacture shampoo, deep conditioner, leave-in conditioner, hair oils and styling cream.  We’ve been designing and creating formulas that work for people with naturally curly hair for the past six years.  What we enjoy most is developing solutions that we know will improve the condition of your hair and skin.  I care about my customer’s hair and skin as if it were my own and I couldn’t create a product that I wouldn’t use myself.

UMM:  You probably get asked this question all the time.  What was your inspiration behind the name Stella’s Sister?  As with a few of your colleagues in the business, Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, named her product line after her mother, and sisters Miko and Titi Branch, co-founders of Miss Jessie’s, named their product line after their grandmother Miss Jessie Mae Branch.  Why the name Stella’s Sister?

YB:  The name Stella’s Sister came about when my sister, Stella, went natural 2 years before I did.  She was having difficulty finding products that she could use to style her hair without drying it out.  Being the problem-solver and health advocate that I am, I started studying ingredient labels and their benefits to the hair and skin and then finding minimally processed natural alternatives that would do as good a job or even better.  Through testing and tweaking, we finally had a line of products that performed as intended.  Stella started using them and ranting and raving about them and the word got out.  I became know as Stella’s sister, who makes hair and skin care products.

UMM:  What were the key factors that contributed to the decision to create and market a natural hair product line?  When did you know you had a winner?

YB:  The one key factor that contributed to my decision to create a natural hair care line was based on need.  I went natural in 2009 and I couldn’t find anything that would adequately nurture my dry, brittle hair that was breaking off no matter what I applied to it.  When I did the research into the ingredients found in the “black” hair care products, I then discovered why my hair was struggling to stay on my head.  Everything that was beneficial to curly hair was either not available in the product or in such minute amounts that it had no effect.

At that point, I knew that I had to make my own if I wanted to have hair on my head.  More than that, I wanted hair that was soft, manageable and strong.  It was not my intent to sell the products.  I was creating them for myself and family.  In a way, that was probably the best way to start because I didn’t consider costs or making a profit.  I just wanted them to work.  Later, I was encouraged to market the products.

When I received positive comments from people who were chemically relaxed as well as natural hair customers, we thought the impact may be more far-reaching than originally anticipated.  For the men, their skin became less irritated after the first use of the after shave treatment and they would return after a week, of daily applications, and their razor bumps would be completely gone.  Those kinds of results are very encouraging.

 UMM:  With the beauty industry being inundated by natural hair product companies, what are the differentiators that make Stella’s Sister stand out from the crowd?

YB: 
Stella’s Sister began with the goal of solving issues with dry, dull and weak hair. We’re staying true to that goal by educating the consumer and moving beyond what you put on your hair and skin to encourage healthy habits and how nutrition and exercise play key roles in your outward appearance.

UMM: 
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, over the past 10 years there’s been an influx of both men and women embracing their African heritage and sporting their natural locks…be it women saying goodbye to relaxers or men wearing their hair in dreadlocks.  
Do you think it is a fad and why?

YB: 
I think natural hair is here to stay.  I believe that making the decision to go natural comes from our awareness of the effects of toxins in their bodies.  A few days ago, there was a study stating that 80% of all food produced in the United States has GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in them.  People are looking for ways to rid their bodies of these toxins that are wreaking havoc in their cells.  We have unexplained illnesses, lumps and bumps that appear out of nowhere, the doctors don’t have a clue, we’re being pumped full of pills to mask the symptoms of one problem and the side effects are causing a litany of other potential problems.  But don’t get me started.
Yes, I think natural hair is here to stay because I’m seeing teenagers who are embracing their curls and discouraging their parents from relaxing their hair.  They are identifying with the way their hair naturally grows out of their head as unique and special.

UMM: 
Finally, if there is anything you could leave with our readers who are on the fence about going natural, what would it be?

YB: 
Going natural is a psychological adjustment as well as a physical one.  What I mean by that is you have to redefine what is beautiful to you. You almost have to embrace your curls before you get the curls and visualize yourself with those curls.  Because when you’re okay with your natural hair, you don’t care what anyone else thinks.  The images we see on TV and in magazines all tell us what the majority think is beautiful and acceptable.  don’t get me wrong, those images are beautiful.  And natural, kinky, curly, coily hair is beautiful…too!



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