As BlackOnyx77 on YouTube and CEO of Alikay Naturals, you and your brand are cornerstones in the natural hair community. What was the inspiration behind your YouTube videos and did you know that you would have so much success when you launched your first YouTube video in 2008?
Initially, I began documenting my natural hair journey in college with photos and videos to use as a reference point for determining the best ways to re-create my hair styles in between my undergraduate courses and waitressing job. As more people started inquiring about what I did to achieve different styles on my natural hair, I started creating instructional videos on my BlackOnyx77 YouTube channel as way to support other women embarking on their own hair journey. At the time, I never imagined that those videos would spark the birth of Alikay Naturals as an influential brand at the forefront of self-expression and the natural hair movement.
What inspired you to create Alikay Naturals and how is your brand different from other hair care brands on the market?
Always having felt a connection with nature since my early countryside childhood with my herbalist grandmother in Jamaica, it wasn’t long after my 2nd “Big Chop” that I used an initial $ 100 investment to start bringing the herbalist remedies to life with the creation of Alikay Naturals. I felt that the hair care options that were on the market at the time didn’t have the natural ingredients with the healing properties and humectants that my highly textured tresses needed to feel nurtured from root to tip.
We are focusing on healthy hair care products that not only smell good, but deliver long lasting results without controversial ingredients. More than just a “haircare brand” we have taken on a unique role in the market by being a “lifestyle brand,” which has created a genuine connection that our extremely loyal customer base as expressed in reviews on the site, via social media and through emailed testimonials. Alikay Naturals has enabled me to live out my dream of creating a lifestyle brand that is committed to inspiring other women to feel empowered in obtaining their spiritual, wellness and life goals. Feel good, look good, be good.
What are your favorite styles and favorite Alikay Naturals hair products?
My favorite hairstyles are anything super cute and chic that doesn’t take long to do. I love the definition I get from twistouts. It’s so hard to choose because I love all of our Alikay Natural products. My favorite products from the Alikay Naturals line include: The Essential 17 Hair Growth Oil, The Lemongrass Leave-in Conditioner, our Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer, The Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner and The Creme Brulee Curling Delight.
With over 99,000 BlackOnyx77 YouTube subscribers and 13 million video views, how influential has your social media presence been with the growth of Alikay Naturals into Target and Sally Beauty Supply Stores?
Target and Sally Beauty Supply have a reputation for selling quality products and Alikay Naturals is perfectly aligned with the types of high quality products available at both chains. As YouTube played a key role in the launch of Alikay Naturals, keeping social media at the core of the consumer identifying with the brand has definitely been an asset as our brand expands into Target and Sally Beauty Supply stores. As a vlogger, I saw how consumers sharing their experiences on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook not only had a great impact on how brand messaging spread, but how these platforms gave direct access to customers around the world. As a brand owner, social media not only enables me to provide direct feedback to the customer, but gives me access to all of their inspirational stories and pictures being shared through these platforms. Our interactive social media engagement has enabled Alikay Naturals to become a means of self-expression to women around the world.
What’s up next for Alikay Naturals?
My Fort Myers based Be Fabulous Salon just celebrated it’s 1 year anniversary and we are looking forward to continuing the celebration throughout 2015. Going beyond conventional perceptions of beauty, I want Alikay Naturals to be an influential force that shares the appreciation of beauty and imperfections as well as encourages the type of individuality that builds confidence. I have spent the past 2 months on the road with my RISE Women Empowerment Tour; motivating, empowering and enlightening.
The RISE Women Empowerment Tour offers a way of extending a helping hand to other “women on the RISE.” Why is that so important to you? What inspired you to team up with RISE Co-Founder, Angela Walker, to launch the tour?
Support and honesty are instrumental in women helping each other. Wanting to extend a helping hand to other women is what initially inspired me to launch the Alikay Naturals Brand Ambassador program. After receiving inquiries from women looking for advice as they embarked on achieving their own goals and dreams, I wanted to create a program that served as an influential force in facilitating the individuality that builds confidence while empowering other women. The program supports women in hosting events, networking and wanting to get a better understanding of the beauty industry. Collaborating with Angela Walker on the RISE Tour, has enabled me to take that vision to the next level by bringing on other CEOs and industry influencers to share their experiences, celebrate their successes and not be afraid to be vulnerable in sharing your pitfalls. All in important in helping other women. Your contribution to women empowerment doesn’t have to be a huge commitment of your time. Sometimes just being a listening ear can make the difference to someone who is contemplating their next move.
What is your advice to new naturals?
Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20. Everyone’s journey is different. Patience has been one of the biggest lessons that I learned on this journey. Take the time to love everything about your hair at every stage, from root to tip. Learn to trust the unknown, I never know what my hair is going to look like the next day. And the biggest lesson was that in accepting all of myself, I accept my natural hair texture and I can fully love me. I keep my 4a, kinky, soft and versatile hair moisturized. I strongly recommend the LOC Method to keep hair supple. What sets the LOC method (Leave-In, Oil and Cream) apart from other methods is the layering of products in a specific order to maximize moisture retention.