International Women's History Month: Create tools with Black women in mind and the world will FLOURYSH
Black women's hair is often considered a sense of pride. For some, it's a sacred symbolic connection to femininity. The creative contributions of Madam C.J. Walker, Christina Jenkins, Lyda’s Newman, Lisa Price, Kim Kimble, Felicia Leatherwood and the Stirrup sisters [LaToya, LaTrice and LaTasha] changed the culture!
Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919) was “the first Black woman millionaire in America” and made her fortune thanks to her homemade line of hair care products for Black women. Born Sarah Breedlove to parents who had been enslaved, she was inspired to create her hair products after an experience with hair loss, which led to the creation of the “Walker system” of hair care. A talented entrepreneur with a knack for self promotion, Walker built a business empire, at first selling products directly to Black women, then employing “beauty culturalists” to hand-sell her wares. The self-made millionaire used her fortune to fund scholarships for women at the Tuskegee Institute and donated large parts of her wealth to the NAACP, the Black YMCA and other charities.
Lyna Newman invented a way for Black women to detangle their hair with ease and efficiency with a hairbrush that would alter the hair industry forever. Instead of making hairbrushes from soft material, Newman's brush was made using synthetic fibers. These fiber brushes feature unique characteristics such as bend recovery, chemical resistance, and high moisture resistance. Designed with evenly spaced rows of synthetic bristles, these brushes contained open slots to clear shedding and build-up seamlessly. By creating a hair tool that was more efficient, durable, and hygienic, Black women were able to treat their strands without hassle. Newman's invention was incredibly successful, and in November of 1898, she received a patent for her innovative idea.
Christina Jenkins, an avid experimentalist when it came to hair, landed on something truly unique when she developed a way to attach both synthetic hair and natural hair together for a transformational style. This brilliant technique allowed women, especially Black women, to manipulate their hair freely and enjoy multiple looks. The concept of interweaving different hair together for one hairstyle was the ultimate game-changing in hair history, and in May of 1951, the 'Hair-Weeve' filed for her intention to be patented.
Lisa Price began concocting body care recipes out of her Brooklyn apartment three decades ago. What began as a hobby for making fragrances morphed into body moisturizers and butters “because I always had dry skin,” says Price. Friends and family started asking for hair care and her offerings grew. Eventually, Price’s mom, Carol, convinced her she had bonafide business on her hands. “I spent the summer of 1993 selling at different craft fairs and outdoor markets. People would call me wanting to refills of products they had purchased and that began the unofficial store in my home.” For 10 years, she ran the company from her kitchen before landing on Oprah in 2002 and opening her own store in Manhattan.
Kimberly Kimble, who is most commonly known as Kim Kimble was born in Chicago, Illinois on 24th December 1971. Kim’s celebrity hairstyling career took off when she was hired by the film producer Robert Townsend as Key Hairstylist on the movie B.A.P.S starring Halle Berry. The elaborate hairpieces that she designed for the film caught the attention of other Hollywood executives and talent, which led to her working on TV sets for shows like Cinderella and Moesha starring Brandy. Later, Kim Kimble worked on The Jamie Foxx Show, Two Can Play That Game and Austin Powers: Goldmember. During the filming of Austin Powers, Kim Kimble worked with Beyonce, which made her a household name in the hair world. Since then Kimble has worked on productions like Think Like A Man, Sparkle, Dreamgirls, Obsessed, Deliver Us From Eva. Currently, she is the head of the hair department of HBO television series Euphoria, and has a wide selection of hair products available.
Felicia Leatherwood is why you loved the natural hairstyles on the HBO television phenomenon Insecure. With over 26 years of experience and hairstylist for Issa Rae, Oscar Award nominee Ava Duvernay, Grammy winner Jill Scott, as well as a host of other celebrities, entertainment executives, rising stars and beauty entrepreneurs — the revolutionary genius also conducts hair care workshops for audiences around the globe under the brand “Loving Your Hair with Natural Care.” Felicia’s solutions and work have garnered her the “Hair Whisperer” title, as she is known for miraculously restoring health, beauty and vitality to her clientele’s hair. She went so far as to conceive and manufacture her own Detangler Brush that allows easy detangling of all natural hair types in 2015.
The Stirrup Sisters — LaToya, LaTrice and LaTasha went natural and realized combing and detangling their hair was a less-than-fun experience because of the hair styling tools they were forced to use. As more people opted to use their fingers to detangle their tresses instead of combs and brushes, the three Stirrup sisters thought to create a hair tool that would mimic the human finger while also improving the traditional comb and brush to cut down on styling time. As a result of the innovation by LaToya, LaTasha and LaTrice Stirrup, the KurlsPlus Detanlgers were launched in 2019 as their first line of patent-pending hair tools under their new beauty and lifestyle company, Kazmaleje. Chosen to showcase their hair tools on QVC and HSN, they’ve sold tens-of-thousands of hair tools to date. From innovative hair tools to stylish cosmetic/travel bags and leisure wear to fashionable home accessories, KAZMALEJE will become your go-to brand to create your personal beauty sanctuary whether at home or on the go. KAZMALEJE is also the first and only hair tool company to be certified Plastic Neutral by rePurpose Global. For every product sold, they are donating a percentage towards vetted programs that will collect and recycle as much plastic waste from the environment used in their packaging and operations.
LaTosha Stirrup said, "The hairstory of Black hair has come a long way, and it's undeniable the paths that were paved for stores to be stocked with Black hair products and inventions. With intentional discoveries that help to revive, strengthen, manipulate and style Black curls and coils, the momentum hasn't stopped.”
For the industry to evolve in such a profound way, it gives brands like Kazmaleje the motivation to keep inventing and bringing the vision to life.
Get the Kazmaleje line up here.