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Racheal Williams

Racheal Williams from JSDK Hair discussed authentic haircare and styling for Black women

Racheal Williams is a highly experienced Black businesswoman who has applied her talents in project management and strategic planning to continuing her family’s legacy in supplying high-quality and ethically-sourced hair products specifically for Black women through the family-run business JSDK Hair.

Below, Racheal answered some questions on the story of JSDK Hair and the unique challenges it has overcome in establishing itself as a business specifically tailored for Black women.

Racheal, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started JSDK Hair?

My professional background is in the project management field. My experience is in leading international business improvement projects through technology-led automation, often within highly regulated environments. I have my BA in Business Management combined with a project management accreditation. My role as Director/Co-Founder is to drive the JSDK Hair brand vision, through strategic planning and streamlined project management. I contribute towards JSDK Hair’s growth and expansion.

JSDK Hair is a mother, daughter and sister trio committed to providing our customers with the purest, chemical-free raw hair extensions on the market. Our philosophy at JSDK Hair is that “Black women” are the customer. Black women are the ones who are utilizing these products the most; we’re making it a trend online, so much so that other races are wearing wigs at an exponentially higher rate than in previous years. However, in the supply chain, we simply don’t have any representation. This lack of representation is one of the reasons we created JSDK Hair. At JSDK Hair, we specifically cater to Black women and their hair.

The global hair wigs and extension market is estimated to reach revenues of more than $10 billion by 2023. African American consumers spent $1.75 billion on hair-care products in 2019. The top 3 vendors in the global market are:

  • Godrej – India
  • Great Lengths – Italy
  • Evergreen Products Group Limited – Hong Kong

These and other companies are mostly white and Asian owned but Black-presenting. That is problematic and needs to be addressed. When we created JSDK Hair, we had ourselves in mind, we share the same pain points as the Black women who benefit from our products.

Racheal Williams JSDK Hair

Why did you decide to call your hair shop “JSDK Hair”? What is the story?

As I mentioned JSDK Hair is a family run business. Family legacy is important to us, so much so we named the business after the four children in our family.

Our love of hair started long ago with our Nana, who ran a hair salon out of her kitchen. A child of the Caribbean, she crafted her hair products from ingredients found in the kitchen and garden and provided service and products to Black women at a time when those things weren’t available. Our Nana was committed to providing her customers with the finest service and products, and we continue that tradition today with our chemical-free, high-quality raw hair extensions.

At JSDK Hair, our approach to hair and hair care is a holistic one. We fully understand that it’s not just about what you put ON your hair. Factors such as; diet & nutrition, stress, hair product ingredients, and hair care routine all contribute to you either having a healthy head of hair or not.

There are a lot of women out there who don’t know how to care for their hair, and they are looking for quality products that won’t damage their hair. At JSDK Hair, we not only sell hair products that are chemical-free and natural. We go beyond that to educate our customers on how to care for their own hair. We regularly share on our blog and social media accounts, the benefits of natural, organic, vegan hair care treatments and products. Anyone subscribed to our newsletter receives insightful articles on a variety of topics related to hair and wellness best practices.

What were some early challenges in getting the shop established?

An early challenge for us was definitely marketing. None of us had any real marketing experience, so we initially hired a marketing agency to help assist us with social media marketing and Facebook Ads.

Working with an agency certainly had its pros and cons. The pros being it allowed us the space and time to learn more about how to best utilize social media as a brand, grow our audience organically, create content, etc.

The cons, however, was the marketing agency lack of understanding from a cultural perspective of our aims with the content/messaging. We had to constantly reiterate that our audience was Black women. We were advised several times by the agency that if we wanted to be “popular” on social media, we would need to “broaden” our audience. We decided to handle all of our own social media/marketing.

Soon, we plan to hire a black-owned marketing agency to assist us in getting to the next level.

What is the current trend in hair extensions?

The current trend in hair extensions is a shift towards hair extension textures that are kinkier and have more coily afro curls. As more Black women are transitioning towards the natural hair movement. We do not currently offer those textures, but we have been doing research on the best black-owned hair companies to possibly partner with to expand our range of hair extension textures.

What types of hair extensions do you sell?

At JSDK Hair we sell raw hair extensions. Raw hair is human hair that has not been altered by steam or chemical processing. Raw hair cuticles are intact and aligned in one direction, which prevents hair from tangling and matting. Raw hair bundles come from one single donor (single drawn), so cuticles and textures aren’t mixed. Raw hair is the most natural, pure, and 100% authentic human hair on the market.

India is one of the primary global sources of human hair, per their ancient cultural traditions, where Indian men and women sacrifice their hair to the Hindu deities. The Indian hair temples then auction that hair off to vendors/manufacturers, like the one we work within India.

At JSDK Hair we source our hair directly from India, where it is cleaned and woven into bundles. All of our hair is single drawn, machine weft human hair, and comes in 3 natural textures (straight, wavy, curly).

As the hair supply industry is not a regulated one, it is almost impossible to not encounter “bad hair extensions”. And when we use the term “bad hair extensions” we are referring to the nefarious way they are processed and then fraudulently marketed to unsuspecting buyers.

The unfortunate truth is that within the hair supply industry, there is a whole other industry around untangling, sorting and treating comb waste. Comb waste hair has to undergo rigorous chemical processing, for instance, they use silicone to coat the hair to give it a shiny, smooth appearance. Along with acid baths, and other harmful chemicals. Why is this an issue? The compounds used are carcinogenic.

Of course, these companies don’t label this anywhere on the products; instead, this bad hair is passed off as human hair. Essentially, “bad hair extensions” are not only bad for your wallet but can also be bad for your health. We have heard so many horror stories from customers who have experienced rashes, breakouts, to balding due to reactions from the chemicals in the hair extensions used by some of these other companies.

We have a free mini-course on our website that goes more in-depth on this topic, as well as several posts on our social media accounts.

JSDK Hair

Do hair extensions damage your real hair?

Hair extensions are a temporary, protective hairstyle, when used in this manner hair extensions will not damage your hair. At JSDK Hair, we repeatedly inform our customers that they need to care for their own hair first. We regularly share on our blog and social media accounts, the benefits of natural, organic, vegan hair care treatments and products.

As with all hair products, styles, and hair care routines, when done on healthy hair, in moderation and in the correct manner. Hair extensions can be a great way to experiment with different hair colors, textures, lengths without the permanent commitment.

The damage that typically occurs with hair extensions is in the application process. There are 3 methods for applying hair extensions to your natural hair, these include:

  1. Clip-ins: They are attached to the hair using small pressure sensitive clips.

PROS: Application takes minutes and can be done easily by yourself, allowing more versatility.

CONS: Cannot be worn overnight or for long periods; Not ideal for thin & delicate hair types, clips could be too heavy and cause hair breakage.

  1. Glue-ins: Glue is applied to the base of the extensions and attached to your hair.

PROS: The least expensive form of hair extensions. They are short-term; extensions will only stay in the hair for a few days.

CONS: Glue can cause damage to the hair if applied or removed incorrectly. If the glue is applied to the scalp during application, hair follicles can clog and cause bacterial scalp infections.

  1. Sew-ins: Hair is braided into cornrows to create a base for the extensions, and then the extensions are sewn onto the cornrows using a needle and thread.

PROS: Ideal for curly & thick hair types. No heat or glue is needed for an application.

CONS: Tight braids can cause hair loss/traction alopecia; Limited styling options.

How should people choose hair extensions?

JSDK Hair Extensions DOs & DON’Ts:

DO: Care for your own hair first, weaves and wigs are great protective styles, but you HAVE to condition and moisturize your own hair first before doing a protective style.

DON’T: Skimp, yes high-quality human hair costs more. When you buy cheap hair, you ultimately end up buying hair more often, therefore, spending more. JSDK Hair lasts 3-4 years with proper care.

DO: Think about how much time you want to spend on styling. Curly/wavy textures is a wash-and-go texture so takes less styling time, whereas a straight texture needs more maintenance.

DON’T: Use glue! Wig glue, in our opinion, does more damage than good. It’s made up of some pretty toxic chemicals but also can eat out your edges. There are great alternatives, we have customized wigs using the bra strap elastic band method which gives you that beautiful laid-flat look. I also use a grip band you can order online, and they’re great for keeping your wig in place. Or you can go old school and sew in your weave.

DO: Think about weight, longer hair weighs more, and this can cause added tension on your own hair and make it more prone to breakage.

DON’T: Max out on products! Too much product over time dries out the extensions and makes them appear stringy and dull. When you order JSDK Hair, it comes with a complete hair care guide.

DO: Buy JSDK Hair!

We have a free mini-course on our website that goes more in-depth on this topic, as well as several posts on our social media accounts.

Can you give us an example of an obstacle you had to overcome?

With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and seeing its effect on Black communities, we asked ourselves, how can we be the change we want to see in this world? In order to help make a positive impact, we are donating 10% of purchase proceeds from our merchandise line, towards charitable relief efforts that focus on assisting Black communities that are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

Donations go to a charity called The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), founded in 2014. Their Covid-19 Initiative aims to dismantle the systems that fail Black people regularly. “The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. From mutual aid efforts to disaster relief, Black communities know what’s best for Black people.”

These are some of the ways we serve our customers and our community at JSDK Hair.

Thank you Racheal for your time!
You can follow up with Racheal Williams at https://jsdkhair.com

Racheal Williams from JSDK Hair

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