Our story is an interesting and unconventional one to say the very least.
Samantha was raised in Houston and attended Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Living in cities that have large populations of black women, she never had issue finding the right stylists or hair products. In August 2011, she moved to San Francisco to pursue law school. When she arrived, her hair was relaxed; therefore, she started looking for stylists and/or salons that could help with protective styles and maintenance because in law school there was barely enough time to sleep, yet alone properly take care of her hair. She eventually found a stylist that she was confident in, but the stylist lived an hour away! Nevertheless, due to her lack of knowledge regarding proper hair care, lack of hair products in San Francisco, and labored access the stylist in order to maintaining healthy hair…. her hair fell out! After growing out her hair for four years, she she had gone from bra-strap to neck length hair within in a year!
Michelle is a San Francisco native. Therefore, she has constantly tried to avoid hair tragedies. After trial and error with several stylists, she became natural in August 2011 at beginning of law school. As she embarked on her new hair journey, she wanted to prevent further damage to her hair but was not sure how to wear her hair in any other style other than using hair extensions. In addition, she was not sure how to wear her natural hair in out of a protective style in a way that would still be deemed "acceptable" in an academic or corporate setting.
In August 2012, Michelle and Samantha both started their second year of law school. Maybe the angels were looking after us, because we ended up sitting right next to each other and struck up a friendship. Even though we were newfound friends, little did we know that we were both having the same hair struggles. Michelle informed Samantha about the benefits of having natural hair so Samantha decided to try out the natural hair journey. Michelle made Samantha realize that in order to take care of her hair, she really needed to be educated about how her hair works.
Throughout law school, Michelle and Samantha kept up with each other’s hair journeys, brainstormed on how to grow healthier hair, how to style their hair so that it’d be acceptable in a corporate setting, how to remedy problems, etc. By having a “hair journey buddy,” they learned from each other by exchanging different ideas, tips and pictures to perfect their hair care. After they became comfortable with managing their own hair, they started advising family and friends on how to fix their hair issues. During the midsts of this, they both realized that they have an equally strong passion for hair!
The Big Transition: From Lawyers to Entrepreneurs
Samantha and Michelle graduated from law school in May 2014 (yay!) and embarked on the route to become an attorneys. However, they realized that they only felt comfortable in a corporate setting when their hair was straight or hidden back in a bun. If felt as if a large part of who they were was being suppressed by societal standards of what was professional or acceptable. That is when they acknowledged how important it was to have enough self-confidence to truly embrace who you are regardless of your profession.
In the midst of trying to balance maintaining a professional look while embracing their individuality and what they thought was desirable, they turned to stylists for help but quickly realized that there were many stylists that did not necessarily follow healthy hair practices. Samantha and Michelle would hear repetitive grievances from friends and others about how their hair was getting damaged in their balance to embrace their individuality, maintain healthy hair, and fall within the realm of professionalism.
The Revolution: Wholly Hair is Born
Michelle and Samantha could not help but to imagine the sure plight of black women across different communities who were facing the same dilemma. Keeping in mind that there is a younger generation of women coming after them, Michelle and Samantha also realized that they do not want young women to go through the same struggles that they faced--at least in regards to self-image.
- they both have a strong passion for hair care,
- the current hair market does not tailor to the true dilemma of proper hair care and maintenance,
- there is a need to understand textured hair in order for black women to assimilate into corporate America, and
- even though women would focus on styling their hair, there was a general lack of knowledge about healthy hair practices,
...Michelle and Samantha decided to take the leap from the legal realm to entrepreneurship in order to effectively make a change in the hair care industry for women with textured hair. Thus, they embarked on the "hair care revolution"and Wholly Hair was born!