In the run up to the launch of the Mane Divas bespoke mobile service, I thought it would be great for us to get to know them and understand the business a bit better. Earlier this week, we had an online interview had an online interview. I give you, Katrina Emmanuel and Tamara Plummer the Directors of Mane Divas, fondly known as Trina and Tam.
TTT: Briefly, can you share your hairstory? (Please include 1 photo of how you currently wear your hair)
KE: Up until 2010 I had always relaxed my hair, it was just ‘normal’ from a very young age. However when I fell pregnant both my mother and my hairdresser advised that I should stop as it was not good for the baby. Although I was wearing a weave at the time I found it amazing how versatile my unrelaxed hair was and the styles I could achieve without the chemical intervention. I transitioned from a relaxer and now own a fully natural mane of hair!
As a company we researched a kinky texture weave for just over a year so I can finally wear extensions without manipulating my natural hair to blend with the European textures; a simple twist out and I’m good to go! I now have the best of both worlds without damaging my hair and I’m happy, especially as I can share my discovery with others through Mane Divas.
TTT: What’s your hair washday routine?
KE: Due to the company and sheer time and convenience I regularly wear our kinky curly hair extensions. I wash my hair weekly whilst wearing the extensions but when I remove that’s my proper wash!
I pre poo with coconut oil, wash with our Geranium and Lavender SLS Free Shampoo then create a deep conditioner with whatever takes my fancy. I generally use the Tropic Isle Living range but we are experimenting with our own stuff. I tend to add wheat protein and avocado oil to my conditioner and I have also been using Henna recently to cover my premature greys.
I tend to do a herbal rinse also with apple cider vinegar and other herbs to clarify. I then spritz with a homemade bottle of Aloe Vera juice, tea tree oil and jojoba oil with unrefined shea butter to seal. It’s definitely an all-day task!
TTT: Briefly, can you share your hair story (Please include one photo of how you currently wear your hair) .
TP: Up until my very late teens and even early 20’s my hair was natural, with extension plaits being my choice of style. Every once in a while I would relax my hair and wear it out, but plaits were my signature and it never took long to revert back to them. I then met Trina in my early 20’s and she seduced me with the ways of weave, and once I had my first weave I was hooked. Similarly to Trina, I then fell pregnant with my daughter and was given the same advice about the chemicals being bad for the baby. I then decided to have a full weave for the remainder of my pregnancy so relaxing the leave-out section was no longer necessary. After Ava-Leigh was born I kept the weave for a while without relaxing my hair and I then went to a hair show where they were offering LIVE big chops. Being the impulsive and dramatic person that I am, I decided to sign myself up. Never having even thought of chopping my hair off, Trina automatically dismissed me as being crazy and didn’t believe that I would do it.
Unfortunately, the schedule of the day over ran so the live big chops were no longer going to be happening, but by that point, the seed had been sewn and the idea had taken root. I then went to the Afro Hair and Beauty Show the following day and booked to have the big chop by one of the hairdressers that I’d met at the previous event.
Accompanied by Trina and 2 of my other friends, I sat in the chair and instructed Stephen, my stylist to take it all off. I tried so hard not to look in the mirror until it was all done, but the looks and gasps of my friends and on lookers’ faces, made it so hard to contain my excitement. Once the chair was spun around and I looked in the mirror for the first time, I absolutely loved it!!! After that first chop, I just couldn’t get enough, and proceeded to go lower and lower, until I eventually stopped at 0.5 (yes, lower than a number 1). I then kept it this low for the best part of a year, adding different colours to keep it fresh. I have now started to grow it out, and have adapted my regime to include JBCO and Avocado Oil to promote healthy and increased growth. The good thing about it being a bit longer now, is that our 3 step moisture range works wonderfully on my curls, and make my twists outs so defined.
TTT: What’s your hair wash day routine
TP: My hair routine now has greatly improved since the days of old. Being a part of Mane Divas, has highlighted to me exactly how important it is to take care of your hair, and more important exactly how to do it. Having such a short style, means that my hair and scalp are very accessible; it also means that it’s a bit more exposed to the elements. I do not live in inner city London, but there is still a fair bit of smog, which results in my needing to wash and clarify my hair quite often.
On a daily/ 2 daily cycle, I will ensure that I completely wet my hair and then use JBCO hair food to grease my scalp and Mane Divas Milk moist to restore my style. I will wash and condition my hair at least once a week using Mane Divas Geranium and Lavender SLS Free Shampoo, and Tropic Isle Living Conditioner mixed with Avocado Oil. I am about to add a clay mask to my routine which I plan on doing once every 2 -3 weeks to ensure all toxins are drawn out from my hair.
TTT: What was ‘last straw’ that led you to start your own business? What was the catalyst?
MD: There were a few contributing factors such as the lack of products available in Essex and the misconception that you cannot grow and maintain your hair under a protective style such as weave. However our main gripe was the lack of information behind the products. Ok this miracle oil may grow my hair hut how when why! As consumers black women spend 500 billion pounds on products, should this not include a specialist service? Do the black women of today not deserve more than a chain of high street stores ran by men who know very little and care even less about the health of our hair?
TTT: What areas of the country will your mobile bespoke workshops cover?
MD: At the moment we are covering Essex & London. We then hope to go countrywide once we have built a team and good client base. We are currently offering home workshops but have also been approached by a few salons re open evenings for their clients.
TTT: What should clients have at home in preparation for the experience of your mobile bespoke workshop service?
MD: We aim to offer a workshop of their choice in the intimacy of their own front room. Unlike exhibitor shows they can have our undivided attention and ask the questions they may not feel comfortable sharing in an open forum. We as black women do not share and we feel that by offering a relaxed party atmosphere we have the opportunity to help each other. We especially want to target the parents of mixed heritage children whom upon our research have voiced the un-welcomeness of our community when it comes to hair care.
There are 4 classes offered, with the consultation workshop being mandatory, in which you will receive a personalised oil mixture. The remaining 3; Divas Kitchen, Hair Loss and Mini Divas can be added as bolt-ons. If clients want a Porosity Check they must attend with shed hair from a recent wash pre conditioner. The team will arrive equipped with everything required to host the class including disposable aprons for our Divas Kitchen.
TTT: Over the last twelve months, what have you learnt about your market?
MD: We have learnt that black women are very critical of each other. Offering a dual service for both naturals and other has caused us to sit on the fence many a times when it comes to the weave vs natural debate. However from 2012 our ethos was always #teamhealthyhair and we are proud that we have stuck to it. We believe that sisterhood is not texture specific.
TTT: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
MD: Have a clear vision and research your market thoroughly. Don’t get swayed by the latest trend, if you know why you started this journey keep true to your vision. You may have to make little tweaks along the way but staying focused helps. More importantly is networking. Despite our hard work and customer recognition we could not have pulled together our upcoming event without our close knit network of other small businesses. We have appeared on BBC radio and been given priceless opportunities all through networking. Our motto from day 1 has always been: We can get there faster alone but further together.
Mane Divas launch event, Divas on the grow will be held at the prestigious The Waterlily Banqueting Suite, East London, on 6th July. Tickets can be purchased from the Eventbrite website, THIS LINK will take you there.