What's even more impressive than being an attorney who works for the federal government, a single mother and maintaining a successful side hustle as the owner of a celebrated salon that's leading the charge for embracing natural hair textures in South Florida? How about doing all of the above, deciding it's not quite enough, and launching a meticulously thought-out beauty brand amidst a global pandemic?
That's exactly what Jamila Powell, the owner of Maggie Rose salon, has taken on of late. This week, she added another side hustle to her existing side hustle, becoming a beauty founder in a category that's seeing somewhat of a boom right now. With a line that seeks to cater to all curl types, Naturally Drenched is a direct-to-consumer (for now) brand that wants to not only care for natural hair textures, but also build a "curl-clusive" community around its mission.
"Naturally Drenched is a curl-care line dedicated to addressing the needs of all curl patterns. My goal is to create a complete line that caters to all the needs of curly girls, while also providing accurate information on how to take care of their hair," Powell tells Fashionista ahead of the brand's launch.
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Its hero product is the Rebalance Pre-Conditioner Treatment, a pH-balancing tonic intended to enhance hair and scalp health, revive curl patterns, reduce frizz and prevent breakage. It comes housed in aluminum packaging, a choice Powell made based on the material's infinite recyclability. As part of its launch, Naturally Drenched is also introducing tools that help with hair-care routines (and the application of the Rebalance treatment), including a bamboo hair pick, a mirror that doesn't fog up (intended for in-shower use), a detangling brush and styling clips.
Powell took some time to discuss her new venture with Fashionista, detailing the development and planning that went into the formulas and tools, why bringing inclusivity to the curly hair-care space is of personal importance and her future plans for Naturally Drenched. Read on for the highlights.
Tell me about your background — how did you go from your career as an attorney to getting involved in the beauty space to create Naturally Drenched?
I'm a full-time attorney for the federal government, a salon owner and a single mom. Most people assume lawyers make a lot of money, which is not true, especially when you have to pay law school loans. My parents provided me with a top-notch upbringing, and I wanted to do the same for my daughter. Therefore, I knew I had to come up with a side hustle that would be profitable. My college friend had told me about an extension concept. After doing some research, I decided it was a good idea and I inadvertently stumbled into the beauty world. After owning the salon for a year, I had an epiphany to change the name to Maggie Rose, after my daughter, Magnolia Rose. I hired a stylist that was familiar with natural hair and that's how I jumped into the world of textured hair.
The close relationships I developed with my stylists is what ultimately led me to developing Naturally Drenched. They would talk about the different types of textured hair they were working with and the lack of high-quality, effective products to use on all of their clients. I felt called to create a hair-care line that put natural hair at the forefront of its values and purpose. Naturally Drenched is engineered for curly hair, but also encompasses a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness, which are equally as important to me.
How would you describe your own relationship with your hair? Do you see hair care as a self-care ritual?
I love my hair, but learning how to take care of it properly has been a journey for over 20 years. I've been continuously natural for over 10 years. I love trying out new looks and seeing all of the beautiful variations my hair is capable of. Most importantly, I love being an example for my daughter to always love her natural hair. The love I have for my natural hair is something I want to share with the Naturally Drenched community. I believe it's time we all start to love our curls, and this starts with taking care of them with the right hair-care products.
What about serving those with natural, textured hair appeals to you? How did you come to see it as a business opportunity?
I love to be a part of everyone's curl journey. It's an honor that people come to my salon and learn how to embrace the hair that grows out of their scalp, naturally. There's a lot of emotion and acceptance that comes along with loving one's natural self and I'm happy to provide a safe space for that.
When I transitioned into textured hair, the market in South Florida had a few key players, but it wasn't saturated. I went to law school in Washington D.C. and a lot of women were styling their natural hair. However, South Florida was just starting to move in that direction. Once Maggie Rose started specializing in natural hair, we started to get busier. Then, we transitioned to cutting curls, and that's when things started to take off.
How did you create the branding, develop the formulas and decide which products to launch with?
The branding, the way the product makes you feel and the results are all a reflection of my personality. I knew that there was a void in the market for a pre-conditioner treatment that provides curls with a little extra TLC. I researched several ingredients, fine-tuned the ingredient list with my chemist and then tested it in the salon.
Tell me about the hero product, Rebalance.
It's a pre-conditioner treatment to be used after shampoo but before conditioner. It's really amazing. One of the most important things to me when developing Naturally Drenched was making sure the product really worked. I spent countless hours of my time doing research to select the right ingredients that aid in achieving long-term, healthy hair. I worked closely with a chemist to formulate the product and ensure that we're using the highest quality ingredients. We tested the treatment on all different types of hair texture to make sure it would benefit every kind of hair out there. I love it because it will leave your hair feeling softer, with less frizz and more shine.
It seems like there is a lot of intention behind the packaging, both in terms of it being recyclable and made from aluminum and having a charitable component. Why were these elements important to you?
I spent a lot of time researching packaging options that would be best for the environment. I decided on aluminum because it was infinitely recyclable, but most importantly, aluminum is sturdy and optimal for reuse. We also offer reusable pumps and trigger sprays available for purchase so that customers can easily reuse the bottles for their day-to-day activities, rather than it going to a landfill. All proceeds from the sales of the reusable pumps and trigger sprays will go to Charity: Water, an organization dedicated to providing clean water around the world.
Working with people of color and women is a must for me. I always look to support these groups first, because I've been successful only because I have received the same support. I want Naturally Drenched to give back full-circle.
You call Naturally Drenched a "curl-clusive" brand that caters to all curl patterns. Why was this important to you, and how exactly did you accomplish that on a product development level?
Curls are curls; they have nothing to do with race or ethnicity. All curls are beautiful and should be seen that way. My goal was to create a product that people can trust, fall in love with, and incorporate into their everyday hair-care routines. It's critical for me that we extensively test out any product we put on the market at the salon on all curl patterns. When I was developing Rebalance, we assessed how the product would work on color-treated hair, textured hair, dense hair, fine hair, hair with different porosity, different length and more. I wasn't going to put the product on the market until I knew it would work for a multitude of different hair types.
What was it like working toward this launch during the pandemic?
Due to Covid-19, I had to temporarily close down Maggie Rose Salon. The whole time I was wishing I had a product to share with my clients to take care of their curls while quarantining at home. When I started developing the idea for Naturally Drenched, I faced a lot of learning curves in terms of understanding the formulation process, delays with packaging and getting the final product delivered. However, the experience overall has been truly life-changing.
The chemist I worked with was dedicated and thorough. My team came up with a design that's true to who I am and speaks to the brand essence. My public relations team has been supportive and phenomenal. My product photographer nailed my vision. Most importantly, my support system is my significant other, my mom and my daughter, who have kept me motivated, stable and sane. After being in the entrepreneurial world for a while, I've learned how to fend for myself but also lean on others for support when I need it. I have taken each challenge I've faced as an opportunity to learn and grow as both an individual and company founder.
Where do you see the future of Naturally Drenched headed? What can we expect in terms of the immediate and long-term future?
I see Naturally Drenched being an international brand that brings the curl community together and that provides accurate education on how to take care of your curls. In the immediate future, I look forward to developing a moisture mask and a styling foam in the upcoming year. I'm also looking forward to partnering with retailers to get Naturally Drenched products on the shelves. Long-term, I aim to have a complete line of hair care that addresses all issues curly girls encounter.
This interview has been edited for clarity.