Kim Etheredge - Owner of Mixed Chick
Kim Etheredge - Owner of Mixed ChicksInterviewed and written by Tocarra Eldridge
For women who truly care about the quality and care that goes into the products that are used for our hair on a daily basis, meet Kim Etheredge, creator and owner of Mixed Chicks, a highly successful line of multicultural hair care products. Being biracial, Kim faced a myriad of challenges in identifying proper hair care products for her combination hair. After years of using concoctions consisting of so many different products, Kim subsequently used her genuine sensibility to personally develop products for her distinctive hair type. At present, Kim has devoted the very same love, care and innovation into a vastly flourishing product line.
Kim has managed to bring her unique products to the forefront of the industry, perfectly blending nature’s finest ingredients. Over the past ten years, Mixed Chicks has grown enormously, selling nation wide, while always putting quality over quantity. I was recently granted the opportunity to speak with Kim as she shares information in relation to how Mixed Chicks began, educates and gives some astute advice regarding natural hair, women empowerment and business challenges, and also gives insight about her ground breaking hair care product line. Furthermore, Kim recognizes the negative stigma that society has put in place regarding natural hair; she encourages and gives great advice for individuals who may be struggling to fight this stigma.
Kim was a pleasure to speak with. Here is what the astonishing innovator had to say.
Tocarra Eldridge: What made you come up with this unique line of products? How did Mixed Chicks develop?
Kim Etheredge: It developed out of a personal need. For me, being biracial, I have what I always like to use the term, combination hair. Combination hair is basically a blend of different textures, and with that blend of different textures I have had to use products from what I would say both aisles, the normal and ethnic aisles. So, you’re mixing and matching, and that’s what I’ve done my whole life. I then realize that I have just used ten items…so couldn’t there just be one product line. I always had to use so many products, so I said let me make something for me. I had a concoction all of the time, and so did my business partner. It was normal for us to have so many products. So I said, there has to be one product, and since there’s not…let’s just make a product.
TE: For some individuals, embracing the hair that they are born with and transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair is a pure struggle due to the negative stigma that society has put in place - many times referring to our tightly coiled hair as nappy or unattractive. How do we get these individuals to embrace their natural curls, no matter if they are loose or tightly coiled?
KE: I would just simply say, first of all, there are a lot of women who do not know how to do their hair. They’re accustomed to getting their hair done. Sometimes being natural is not easy, because it takes work. If you’re interested, it’s just like learning a new language or learning a new skill, it’s going to take time. So, I would just say be patient if this is something that they want to venture in. I would also say it takes time to go through this process, so you’re not going to get your results over night. I’m very happy to see this natural movement going on because I see more women in so many positions of power and higher positions at work with their confidence level risen so high, that now they don’t have to confirm to what society wants them to be. That’s what I love. I see that it’s starting at the top and just trickling on down on other women.
TE: Personally, I’ve tried many products from your line and I love them all! How do you create the perfect balance in your shampoo…where it cleans the hair extremely well, but at the same time doesn’t strip the hair of all the natural oils?
KE: I’d have to say that I’m really fortunate, because I hear from people who say I don’t want to use one of your shampoos because it has a sulfate. First of all, sulfates are detergents; they clean the hair. That’s number one. I don’t want to walk around with dirty hair. (laugh) I want my hair to be clean. The reality is, all sulfates don’t strip the hair. It all depends on the texture of the hair. My sister has very very oily hair, so she has to wash more frequent than others. People need to learn about their hair type in regards to shampooing. For our shampoo, I think we just took a nice blend of adding nice oils like jojoba and safflower oils. And obviously we did keep the sulfate in there which does cleanse the hair. I think we just got the right blend of ingredients that balanced out the hair. Some people may say their hair is dry from shampooing. Well some people have dry hair and they don’t need to shampoo every day. I just think the blends of the oils, the light, natural oils that we have and any of the cleaning agents that we have were a really good blend, and we were able to find that medium ground for the hair to be able to be cleaned well and not have a film or be heavy.
TE: Your product line is multicultural. Was there one moment in particular that made you realize that a multicultural line of products was necessary?
KE: Oh, absolutely! Throughout my whole life, there was not a product designed for me. As I say, shopping in the normal aisle and the ethnic aisle, a lot of the products in the ethnic aisle had too much oil and the normal aisle had a lot of alcohol and drying factors. When I walked in the store people just pointed me in the direction of the ethnic aisle because of my skin color, not because of my hair texture. So, I really realized that they weren’t paying attention to texture. It was all of a sudden off of ethnicity. People say products are not made for ethnicity…yes they are and they always have been. That’s just the way they market the products. So, I wanted the blend from all worlds. The industry is very segregated, and we wanted to not segregate, but make an umbrella for all people to be under, and that dealt with texture and combination hair. Our niche was coming in that middle of the blends of the world’s together, because there were no products for our hair texture.
TE: What separates Mixed Chicks from other product lines geared toward curly hair?
KE: Mixed Chicks, I feel is the only product designated for combination hair. Combination is truly multicultural women…women of different ethnicities blended together. A lot of curly lines are really just for African American women or Caucasian women. And that’s what separates us. We designed it completely for the blend of the cultures together.
TE: Just like any other endeavor, being an entrepreneur has many challenges. As a business woman, what challenges do you often encounter?
KE: It was very challenging in the beginning. A lot of people don’t know, but you think that when you’re going to make a product and you’re going to order components, you would think that bottles possibly come with caps, but they don’t. You’re here searching…like I have a great bottle, oh I don’t have caps. (laugh) So in the beginning being a small business is challenging when you don’t really have the revenue to do a startup order when a lot of people tell you your minimum order has to be 20,000 units, 30,000, 40,000 or 50,000…when all you may need is 1,500. So, that was a challenge and I would say an obstacle, but something I overcame. I would say clearly by researching, getting on the phone, begging and learning how to make nice of people, so that people would consider you if they were running something specifically and there were left over pieces. It really is about communication and a lot of research and knocking down doors and not taking no for an answer.
TE: Deciding to take the natural hair path is definitely a journey. Do you have any advice for women who are natural or transitioning?
KE: Transitioning or being natural may be a liberating feeling for them. It may all of a sudden make them feel like they have a skill that they didn’t have before, so I would tell them to take their time and go into it educating themselves and finding out what works best for them. Don’t believe the hype of every single ingredient. Test different products, because everything is not for everybody, but there is something for them.
TE: Before we close the interview is there anything else that you would like to add?
KE: I’d just have to say that I am really happy that Mixed Chicks started this product 10 years ago. We really made a product for us, but we realized we had a product for many. And I’m happy that we did that and at this stage I’ve seen a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon. I say bandwagon, because obviously, I can say we did it from our heart, because we are the product. You see a lot of people just making the product to get in. I am happy that people are paying attention to this market and want to create products for not just one hair texture.
Visit website at http://www.mixedchicks.net