Handmade: Millennial grows business with hair products
Genevieve Anyiah is among the many millennials opting to be fully self-employed, rather than work “9 to 5” for a large corporation.
Anyiah is making her claim to fame with an impressive line of products she began creating back in 2013 that include three types of protective hair coverings, as well as a growing line of hair care products — cleansers, protein treatments, glazes, etc.
In 2012, the Southfield resident “big chopped” all her hair off because it was heat damaged. The following year, she designed satin bonnets and knit beanies after not being able to find products that met her satisfaction at local beauty supply stores. She said they were “flimsy and cheap.”
Anyiah, who taught herself to sew at age 14, said, “I just sat down and made something that was black on one side and print on the other.” That was the beginning of a line of hair bonnets she’s created, but because it wasn’t something she wanted to be seen wearing around town, she went back to her sewing machine and designed a beanie.
“As my hair grew out, I wanted something like a hat to cover it. I would leave a flat twist out or something cute in the front, but I wanted something that would cover my hair (in public) while it was in a protective style — a bun, an updo, or something like that.” And although her hair has grown out, she continues to wear a beanie “almost every day,” even in warmer months. A lighter-weight fabric is used to make them for spring and summer.
Later named “Super Sexy Slouchy Beanies,” the hats are made with a drapey knit fabric, and add a funky sense of style to what might otherwise be an ordinary outfit.
In 2014, Anyiah launched her business — Embrace the Natural You, “a multi-purpose haircare line that caters to women with multiple textures of hair.” A year later, she quit her full-time job in global finance “to focus on Embrace full time and obtain (a ) cosmetology license.” She now works as a licensed cosmetologist and “natural hair cultivist,” making every hair product she uses in her Southfield salon (Embrace Hair Art Salon, 21751 W. Eleven Mile, Suite 114) “with the exception of (hair) color.”
Then, her sister, Pearl Renee Goss, who once did sewing for an upholstery shop after learning to sew in high school, came on board and began designing and making satin-lined shower caps, large enough to fit over practically any hairdo, to be added to the company’s collection of protective hair covering products. She works out of her home in Warren, where she has four heavy-duty sewing machines.
Anyiah said, “The (slouchy) beanie hats have an inner layer that is constructed from a stretchy satin charmeuse and an outer layer consisting of various knits, for example, hatchi or jersey.” The weight of the fabric varies by season.
The shower cap is made with a waterproof laminate and lined with a stretchy satin charmeuse. And the bonnet — the only reversible one of the three — is made entirely of satin charmeuse.
The soft, smooth linings protect the hair from friction, which can cause breakage. “A rough fabric rubs against the cuticle layer of the hair, and it can cause it to split,” explained Anyiah, who buys her fabric locally and from a company in California.
All three are all sold online at embracethenaturalyou.com, Embrace Hair Art Salon, pop-up shops, and trade shows. The satin bonnets and beanies are $28 each, and the shower caps are $30. While one size fits most, custom orders are welcome.
Customers tend to be women ranging from 18-55 who live in big cities across the country, including Houston, Atlanta, Brooklyn, and right here in Metro Detroit. However, Anyiah said, “We do more wholesale business, rather than people buying them at shows, online or at the salon.” One of their wholesale accounts is in France.
Embrace the Natural You has been featured on “Live in the D” on WDIV Detroit, in the Michigan Chronicle, and at Essence.com and EverythingGirlsLove.com.
Plans for the company’s future include having the entire operation under one roof. “We really just want to have a larger retail space, have the salon in the back, and a production space further back.”
Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.
Contact Embrace the Natural You at (313) 231-7354, embracethenaturalyou.com, or on Facebook.