What inspired your interest in natural hair care?
Because my mom would not allow me to have a relaxer in my hair, I had to learn how to care for and style my hair—and that was my introduction to natural hair care.
How was it starting your first business at the age of 14?
It wasn’t something I originally set out to do. I found myself styling and braiding hair and was motivated when people wanted me to style and braid their hair. I was even more motivated when people offered to pay me to do their hair.
Briefly tell us how you turned your passion into a profit.
When people requested that I do their hair and paid me for my services, I was inspired to be more creative with the hairstyles that I offered them. People really noticed my creativity and appreciated my work.
What kept you going in the early 90’s when natural hair care wasn’t so popular?
In the early 90s, when I was in New York, natural hair was popular there—popular enough for me to earn a good living. Once I moved to Atlanta, those New York customers who followed me, or paid for me to fly back to New York to do their hair, helped sustain my business as I built my Atlanta-based natural hair clientele.
What was the first product that you produced?
Black Earth Products was my very first line of products. The first product of that line was the Protective Mist Bodifier, which was a leave-in conditioner that could be sprayed daily on natural hair, braids and locs. It was a top seller.
In addition to the Pure & Natural collection, you have developed several other product lines that can be found on your website, which is your favorite collection?
While I don’t have a favorite collection, I do have favorites from each collection. My favorite of all my products is the Nutrient Rich Shine Butter from the Curls Waves & Naturals collection. I love it because I use it on my skin every day—when I get out of the shower, after I wash my hands, when I get a pedicure. I use Nutrient Rich Shine Butter instead of using lotion.
I also love the Shea Coco Monoi Oil from the Pure & Natural Collection, the Stimulating Herbal Cleanser from the Black Earth Natural Products collection, and the Easy Herbal Comb Out from the Kinky Wavy Natural collection.
What advice would you give to women who want to turn their passion into a profit?
Always be sure to put yourself in the company of people who can help you find inspiration, secure networking opportunities and educate yourself on how to build a successful business. The most important thing is to not give up.
How does it feel to celebrate 20 years of hair, health and lifestyle?
It feels great to have celebrated 20 years of healthy hair! In Atlanta during the early 90s, hardly anyone was natural. Natural was almost considered a curse word for people. To go from that to seeing perhaps four out of five women wearing their hair natural is amazing. One may wear straightened hair, while others may wear braids or another protective style, yet none of them are chemically treating their hair and that’s a great thing. I’m so happy to know that I was a part of helping to educate people about it. It feels really good, at 20 years later, to still be talking about it and seeing more people embracing natural, healthy hair.
With all that you have going on, how do you find your balance?
I’m still trying to find a balance in having time in which I can relax and do nothing. However, even when I do get that kind of time, I’ll still find a computer and start working in some capacity. I’m a workaholic and I like to work, so I’m still trying to make time to relax. I can’t complain, however, about my work because I love what I do and enjoy the freedom it gives me. I’m just trying to build a bit of down time into each day.
What are you most grateful for?
I’m most grateful for the freedom I enjoy, being healthy and able to get up each day and keep going. I’m very grateful for my family and for every opportunity that has been placed in my path. All in all, I am a grateful person; I’m simply grateful for everything.
What items are a part of your Ultimate Beauty Arsenal – those must-have items that you can’t live without?
I have to have my Hairline Help!, my Nutrient Rich Shine Butter, eyeliner and mascara. I can’t live without any of these items.
What’s Next for Taliah Waajid?
My Protective Styles line is what’s next! We’ll be presenting this new line of products specifically designed to nourish and maintain natural hair underneath protective styles such as weaves, extensions, updos, braids, twists and faux locs at the upcoming 20th Annual World Natural Hair, Health & Beauty Show April 22-23, 2017.
To keep up with Talia Waajjd you can follow them on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.