We Chatted With The Conscious Collective - A Healthier Hair Care System Designed For A Multitude Of Textures
Tell us a little bit about your brand in terms of your Conscious Collective social enterprise work as well as your beauty products.
Conscious Collective® offers authentically natural personal care products that inspire beauty, empower women, and unite us all seeking trustworthy, effective, certified natural remedies for our families. Conscious Collective launched the first certified natural hair care system designed for a multitude of textures for all the ways we wear our hair, curly and straight. We are a beauty brand for ingredient savvy women in an increasingly multicultural landscape who desire effective, authentically natural hair care.
Almost all of our products are certified natural by the Natural Products Association because we deeply value transparency and going the extra mile through audit and increased accountability for our customers. Our products are 97% to 100% botanically derived and are always free from non-plant derived alcohol, parabens, petrochemicals, sulfates, animal by-products and other nonrenewable resources and are pH balanced. We use only natural fragrance. We donate up to $1, channel dependent, of every product sold to support the cause of community building through other women like us in developing circumstances. We are currently looking for a new community building partner(s) since this past year, because I think the partnership should be a good values/mission fit, and in the meantime support organizations like Heifer International, entrepreneurs through Kiva and have an accrual fund until a new partner is selected.
Why start a natural hair care brand?
I started Conscious Collective as a long-time natural hair consumer looking for more honest natural and holistic hair care solutions that also offer versatility. I’ve always needed convenience in my beauty routine as a busy professional but have also over time become more and more natural seeking in my personal care choices. At the time I founded the company in 2012, I looked around and saw a lot of companies claiming that their products are natural but a deeper look into their chemistry revealed the use of synthetic actives, even if shrouded by other organic ingredients. I still see these same and other companies doing this across the board. The reality is that we develop relationships with brands; we invite them into our homes and they get intimate with us by being on our bodies yet, we, as consumers, are not holding them to as high of a standard as we could, still. While brand owners have made progress in some categories, especially food, there is not as much progress being made in other categories, specifically hair care and other personal care areas. I developed Conscious Collective in response to satisfy this gap for myself and the many women like me as a more transparent, yet thoughtful, alternative.
How do you define beauty?
I define beauty based on intrinsic characteristics, truly the essence of a thing or a person. These days more than ever before, especially in light of our sensitivities and desires for more natural living, I think beauty is synonymous with authenticity. It is realness, connection, vulnerability and an upliftment of people in our sentient humanity, whether female or male, we’re all ultimately beautiful in our humanity. We just have to tap into it, embrace it and free ourselves from pretense and the disconnection with our integrity and humanity. Beauty is about reconnecting with each other and our Earth to move our minds, bodies, and spirits forward more holistically. This is why I call my brand a beauty brand because it is this notion of beauty that we strive to uphold, share and build and our name Conscious Collective is truly the essence of this definition.
How do you define sustainability?
Sustainability is an ecosystem that endures in my mind. It is this magical thing to strive for and is virtually a unicorn to achieve in the most complete sense. It is difficult for any consumer packaged good to achieve because the sheer production and consumer use processes result in waste and, assuming you could moderate for your manufacturing process, you cannot account for every consumer action. Even if you could deliver a product with 100% biodegradable packaging I’ve read in a few different places that most landfills are not designed to support the biodegradation of waste, even if biodegradable. Given that reality, to me, as a manufacturer all you can do is try. I always err on the side of attempt and intent, with my heart being in the right place.
I would like for us to be as increasingly environmentally responsible as possible, especially in our plastics process by reducing the amount we use and moving to more of a biodegradable model. This is definitely a goal as we realize more scale and can exercise more influence in our sourcing process. This goal is one reason for my use of bamboo as a preferred material to give the brand the luxury factor but with one of the fastest growing species of plant on Earth. Although, in a perfect world, in my mind, everything we do would have little to no disruption on ecological systems at all. A gal can dream can’t she?
What are the ingredients of your products?
Because most of our products are certified natural but designed for performance, I must always strike this delicate balance of what we do not put in, which is critical to who we are, with what we do put in to make the products effective. We definitely leverage the power super oils, like coconut, jojoba, hemp, and meadow foam seed in all of our hair care and body care formulations. In addition to oils, we rely on innovative natural conditioning systems that help us meet the standard for natural while nicely conditioning the hair in lieu of doing what our competitors do which is mask synthetic conditioners with organic ingredients. Because we’ve recently started moving into new categories for us, like body care, it has allowed us to continue to innovate and learn.
Each formulation is unique but each hair care system is designed to deliver results in a specific way, for example our Curly Concoctions system improves the elasticity of the hair to really optimize curls and coils while the Straight Transformations system focuses on shine and overall condition of the hair while offering protection. We say someone can mix and match across the lines depending ultimately on what the hair needs. For dullness, I recommend the Straight Transformations Cleanser, Rinse and Primer. For lackluster curls, I recommend the Curly Concoctions Cleanser, Rinse and Gel or Leave-In depending on preference. For a solid moisture regimen, I recommend the Straight Transformations Cleanser or Curly Concoctions Cleanser, because dry hair starts with how you cleanse, and the Curly Concoctions Hydrating Crème.
How does being a WOC influence your brand?
I for sure feel as though being a woman of color has a profound influence on my brand, how it’s been developed and comes to life and how it shapes my perspective on beauty. Some distinct influences arise in my broad view of beauty which impacts my product development process and its imaging. In general, I trend on the side of WOC inclusiveness but not to the exclusiveness of any other groups. In terms of product development, I feel like my products should work for textured hair, but not to the exclusion of less textured hair. In terms of imaging, I feel like the range of brown beauty is something to be celebrated and heralded, but it doesn’t mean that non-brown beauty is less attractive or a detraction from brown beauty. I truly believe that there is a place for everyone and that the more we ethnicity spectra (a.k.a brown and globalize) society and the lens in which we view it the more we illuminate the fact that race is a baseless, sociopolitical construct for the next generation, who we are actively influencing and/or parenting (I am a parent to two little ones) right now. I think that is definitely one of the coolest things about having my own brand (of anything) is that it is a microcosmic expression of my world view, and whether right, wrong or indifferent, it is me baring my soul, my desires and seeking the attainment of connection through a set of shared values with people I would never have otherwise had the pleasure of interacting with, so thank you MelaninASS team and readers for your interest, your acceptance and your support!