Inspired By The Beauty Of Mondays, Actress Kimberly Elise Shares Her Natural Hair Care Brand & Words Of Wisdom For Living More Sustainably
If you’ve ever seen the hit films Set It Off, John Q , Diary of a Mad Black Woman or Beloved, then you know that Kimberly Elise is an esteemed actress. She has a career that spans over 20 years and is a four-time NAACP Image Award recipient, but perhaps her most profound work comes outside of the realm of film.
Not only a beautiful spirited person, Kimberly is a conscious maven, holistic guru and has founded a natural hair care brand that supports her vegan lifestyle. Kimberly Elise Naturals® is a 4-step natural hair care system to SUPPORT and EMPOWER textured hair - giving authentic visibility to women with curls and coils. Additionally, her BLOG is a well curated space that shares amazing articles on health, wellness and clean living.
MelaninASS founder Dominique Drakeford met with Kimberly Elise in a beautiful Japanese Garden in Los Angeles. Kimberly shared this about when and why she started this phenomenal hair care brand:
I started researching 4 years ago - cosmetic beauty, natural beauty, cosmetic chemistry. I started making things at home for myself for my natural hair. I really loved exploring ingredients and combining things in a healthy way. I felt that there was too much dependence on chemicals to achieve the things we wanted in our beauty routines and I figured theres another way. So I just started researching it, then doing it, and playing with different oils, serums and butters -real basic stuff in the beginning. After using it, I found that it had great results on my hair as well as my friend’s and family’s hair. And then I said, let me take tis further and really start digging and really getting sophisticated in creating shampoos and conditioners.
Everybody loved what I was making and it was really making a difference with their hair; and they felt better knowing that they were doing something healthier for their bodies.
So me and my oldest daughter Ajableu decided …. well let’s shape this into something where we can reach more people - not just our friends and family.
In case you did know, Kimberly is a hard core vegan, but transitioned after being a vegetarian for many years. Listen to her journey of transformation and why veganism is the best option for her:
I started vegetarian about 10 years ago and realized in the last couple of years that I’m not eating dairy - it doesn’t agree with me. So I said, let me just make it official. So I’ve been meat-free for about 18 or 19 years now and when I made that change, I became aware of everything around me - not just what I was putting in my body but on my body.
I have a greater connection with what’s going on with my body. When you start eating cleaner, you become more sensitive to the air, the water - just everything. And I found that when I shifted, my body ran better. It was quiet, smooth and much happier. I’m definitely a less is more person because our body really knows! You don’t mess around with it too much and put too many foreign things in there - it can really figure things out. We’re amazing organisms - we just have to support ourselves in the proper way.
Additionally, Kimberly was very transparent in sharing that she found out (a few years ago) that she has celiac disease, which according to the Celiac Disease Foundation is a “serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.” Although gluten-free has been very trendy over the years, it’s important to note that there is an actual diagnosed disorder that can seriously affect your body when consuming gluten.
I made the connection that bread and different things that contain wheat hurt - I would bloat tremendously as if I were 5 months pregnant. But I didn’t even know there was such a thing called Celiac. So I went to my doctor to test to see if I have a problem with gluten. And it was trendy at the time - everyone was going gluten free. He did the blood test and it came back positive. I also had really bad cystic acne at the time. When I cut out gluten - my bloating went away, my skin cleared up, my hair got thicker and healthier - and just taking it out (including changing my makeup to gluten -free makeup) changed so much. I couldn’t figure out why I was breaking out or why my eyes were getting red and itchy. When I switched to a gluten-free mascara, I didn’t have tearing. It’s also apart of Kimberly Elise Naturals® as well - all of our products are gluten free. Additionally, that took away itching/flaking scalp, all those issues I was having with my scalp that a lot of people have.
It’s more common and unfortuntalty a lot of people go undiagnosed and suffer not knowing that it’s simply a diet change.
Kimberly’s overall health and wellness inspired this brand and it was clear that she really wanted to make sure Women of Color were included and had access to healthier alternatives. Her values of ethics and non-toxic ingredients were equally as clear as wanting to have a space of inclusivity.
I’m a kinky, coily girl and I found that when I went natural - there was some great products out there (certainly don’t want to blast another brand) - I just wasn’t finding what was in alignment with my values as well as being effective for my hair. So that’s why I started creating my own products. I recognized that there was so many of us like that - even in the beginning, in the early stages I watched a lot of Youtube. There were like NO kinky youtube bloggers and it was a completely different hair texture - which was fantastic but I couldn’t connect. I couldn’t just spritz water on my hair, slick it back and have a hairdo. That just wasn’t going to work. I felt like there was a need, a hole, where we weren’t being addressed. Our hair is very fragile, it’s extremely dry, prone to breakage and to address those needs and honor our bodies - I thought that’s what we needed.
Our products work for everybody, but there is a special emphasis on kinky/coily, type 4 … ABCDEFG hair (lol). Because I felt that we need a bit more attention and weren’t being given that.
Kimberly Elise works with a chemist who creates their formulas with her approval. Her passion for her brand and shows in sharing that she has done her research and studied.
One of the most profound aspects of our interview however, was coming to find what inspires her the most:
“I’m an Aries and so we step out of the gate ready to go. So Monday morning inspires me! I’m just juiced - even when I’m filming - Friday is the weekend and I’m like ughhh. When most people are really excited for the weekend - I’m not. I love Mondays! It’s doing what you love and being connected and knowing you get to go back in there and do it some more. I wish that more people could find that - or at least find a way to experience a bit of that. I understand that everybody has different circumstances and responsibilities, so I’m very grateful that I get to do what I love on my terms and wake up really excited Monday morning no matter what it is I’m going to do. Whether I’m going to stay home, write letter to my customers, study a script or go out to do a photoshoot - I’m really excited about it .”
It’s important to note however, that being a more conscious, sustainable and/or holistic human being is not easy. We’ve been conditioned to have a lifestyle that is fast past, toxic-prone and lacks connectivity. Here is Kimberly’s advice for taking those first steps to a more sustainable life :
I’m really about veganism and I do see what it did for my life - but it can be daunting for people. I tell people just start slow, it’s all about baby steps. Don’t pressure yourself. Don’t guilt trip yourself. You’re re-conditioning your mind, your spirit, your body for a lifestyle that is completely foreign to you. So you have to allow that transition - also do your homework. I don’t advise that after seeing a movie about veganism - and then the next day going vegan. You’re going to burn out and be confused and you’re going to be eating beans burritos, and that’s not going to be good for you. Do your research and study, there’s tons of resources out there now - including KimberlyElise.com - to teach you about how to become vegan, useful recipes, etc. A bit thing is to make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Although the source is unknown, Kimberly’s favorite quote she shared was, “Don’t compare your chapter 3 to someone else’s chapter 30” - so simply, yet so profound.It’s important to remember that your journey and yours and not to let Instagram or anything else deter you from that.