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Black women are making waves in hair care

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Mrs. Donaldson, a Harvard-trained attorney, developed her brand after writing her first book, “Thank God I’m Natural.” Nearly 20 years ago, after she stopped relaxing her hair and learned to embrace her kinks and curls, she had an “aha” moment.

“It was like, ‘Thank God, I’m natural,'” she said. “Thank God I can go swimming, not sitting in the salon, walking in the rain. I can do all these things.”

Ms. Donaldson never intended to be an entrepreneur, she said, but she saw tech startups led by young, white men create innovative products and thought she could do it too.

Like Ms. Rodriguez, Ms. Donaldson started the company while working full time at her day job. For her family, starting a hair care line lacked the prestige of a corporate lawyer, but she persevered, frustrated by the lack of industry support at the time.

“You’re scared because you’re growing this business and you don’t have a blueprint for it,” she said. “There was Carol’s Daughter, there was Miss Jessie’s, but you always feel like, ‘How did I get so big?'”

Today, wearing naturally black hair is an expression of pride, a rejection of an imposed beauty standard, and a determined declaration of black identity. Further encouraged by the passage of the Crown Act in 2019, which banned discrimination based on hairstyle and texture and has now been passed by 14 states, black women now have the cultural and legal right to wear their hair in a way they choose.

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