The versatility of Black Women and their hair has always been a conversation piece whether she wears a relaxer or chooses to take the “natural” route.
Realistically women have been natural for years or transitioning to their natural hair. However, with the help of blogs, and Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair,” the idea has become a conversation in our culture. From meet-up groups, to online styling tutorials, natural hair is the way of the future (I’m going natural). However, with all of the positive incentives that natural hair has to offer, from keeping and restoring natural texture, being able to have a male pow wow and not worry about your weave or wig, to general freedom, natural hair also comes with a negative stigma. Even to this day, many assume if you’re into natural hair, you drink green tea, recite Erykah Badu lyrics, burn candles in your house, and idolize Bob Marley.
“Just because I wear my hair like this, doesn’t mean I have Bob Marley posters up,” says entrepreneur and curlBox founder, Myleik Teele. “I actually hate incense, you know? But, what about the girl who’s just a fly girl who loves a bad shoe, a fly whip but just chooses to wear her hair this way because she wants more options?”
Helping to change the natural hair stigma around a little is Teele, and her innovative idea, curlBox. The Atlanta dweller by way of Inglewood, California who started her career in the background doing music PR for artists like Travis Barker and Christina Aguilera, even Kim of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.
In August of 2011, after the encouragement from Huetiful owner Ken Burkeen, Teele stared on a new career venture, curlBox. Using her experience in Public Relations, being “natural” herself, as well as past makeup and marketing experience from an Essence Magazine internership, Teele created an innovative concept which will be at the center of Black Hair in no time.
We got a chance to catch up with the innovator about curlBox, where she plans to see it in the next five years, as well as some hair advice, plus her favorite products – she’s a product junky after all.
I got the idea when I had a PR Firm. One of my clients was Huetiful the hair steamer. The guy who owns the line, Ken Burkeen is a personal friend. He was like I thought you would be good, you have natural hair and teaming my ability to connect with people and I thought okay sure and went with it. I started doing it and I started going to these meet ups and to these hair shows and I kept thinking to myself, there’s so many women that would benefit from these products but if you don’t live in Atlanta you wouldn’t know all the stuff. I was like how could I come up with something like bottled or box this experience. Last summer, I came up with this idea, and honestly, I quit it. I bought Curlbox.com last summer and I was like I’m going to try this. It felt so overwhelming and I was like I don’t want to do this. My secretary was like when are you going to do this and I was like I’m not, but I couldn’t sleep at night. It was literally nagging my spirit every night, like period. It was like, you know what, I’m going to do this no matter what, if it succeeds or not. I was like you know what, whether it succeeds or fails, I was ready. I didn’t really care if it succeeded, but I just wanted to do it so I could go back to sleep.
What about the box concept in the mail, why not an online store?
I mean it’s the same thing. An online store is in the mail. Most people in the natural hair community are getting their information online on YouTube. So many of us are going to YouTube and to message boards on hair. I can’t say the last time I saw a print magazine or hair magazine where they had legitimate information on what to do with your hair. So, online is really the only place to learn to do stuff with your hair.
That makes sense. Subscribers of curlBox only pay $20. As a subscriber, what do you get and when do subscriptions open up?
We open up subscriptions every single month, usually one Saturday afternoon we open up subscriptions. They sell out fast and we grow our membership base every single month. Once a month, you get a box of products usually five or seven, sometimes more—I’m a spoiler. They are different products that I really like or that I heard were really good or that is new or that have been around or that I just want to try with my members. A lot of the time, I may way until I get a box with members and try them with my members.
So far, do you have any favorite products? I see on your Instagram you have a lot of products that you like of everything.
Yes ma’am. That’s what’s so good about this business is that there are a lot of great products. I always say it comes down to your style preference. A lot of women like to have the wet look so that’s more of a gel look and something that’s really going to keep your hair slick and defined. Some people like the kinky-curly kind of products. Then there are girls like me. I don’t really like my hair like that. I like Mango Butter. My hair really likes Mango Butter. Then you start to get into what your hair type is. My hair is really fine so certain products can literally weigh it down. People really have to go through the process and that is what makes curlBox so great. You get to go through the process without breaking the bank. I tell people one of my favorite products that I genuinely use; that I think works on everybody is the elastic mango butter. I think that’s a great place to start if you’re new to the process. Shea Moisture makes incredible products. I always recommend women getting a Huetiful Hair Steamer because you can use that a couple of different ways – to crinkle. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the word. A lot of times you want to moisturize your hair before you wash it to make the detangling process better. You put conditioning in your hair, then you steam it, you’re going to have a better hair process. You can also use it for a deep condition.
I always like to add whatever your hair likes to your favorite conditioner. When I like to go deep, my hair really likes Coconut Oil. Some people like Olive some people love Grapeseed. Then you have some products that are a little more expensive but really, really work like Ouidad in Sephora. They have an incredible line of products and I have to use anything in that line that I do not love. Carol’s Daughter has incredible investment products. One of my favorite products of all time, I know a lot of black girls especially when we’re transitioning; you’re not use to having curly edges. Carol’s Daughter makes a Macadamia Hair Controller – girl, it will lay those edges down and you can keep using it. You can use it everyday and it doesn’t build up.
Well, I had a question, since I’m transitioning right now, are you NOT supposed to wash your hair or are you supposed to use a detangler?
Clean hair is healthy hair. You SHOULD be washing your hair. You just want to make sure that you don’t strip your hair of moisture. You want to use a Sulfate Free shampoo. I work out a lot, so I like to use a clarifying shampoo. If you want to use a moisturizing Shampoo, Ouidad makes an incredible shampoo I think it’s called Moisture Lock. Huetiful actually makes a great moisturizing shampoo. Curls have a conditioner, the Coconut and Lime conditioner that will blow your mind. It’s one of those conditioners that if you’re in a rush—I know when you’re transitioning and starting the process, you’re spending a lot of time on your hair. CURLS is one of those conditioners that works immediately.
Yes you are. But, you have to make sure that you are signed up on the list and then we alert members within 48-72 hours of the fact that the list is going to open. When it opens, you need to subscribe at exactly that time. If you try to run to the store, it will sell out. They crash the site so it doesn’t sell out in one minute, but it would sell out in one minute.
That’s awesome. How does it feel to see people really gravitating towards your vision like that?
It feels very surreal to me. There’s moments where I go out—I was going out to get a new couch the other day and the girl asked me for my e-mail address. I gave them my curlBox e-mail and she looked at me and was like, “No Way.” And I looked at her like “Way,” what is going on? Or, I could be out and I was talking to this girl and she was like you look so familiar and I looked at her hair and I could tell she just did the big chop, and I was like do you get curlBox and she was like Oh, My God.
It’s very surreal. Some people are like its just hair stuff and you know, on some levels it is but I used to always say I used to feel very alone in my work life journey. I always felt different, but my mom always supported me like if you see pictures of me when I graduated from high school, I had no hair. I shaved off my hair – I had my haircut off like four times in my life.
I find of feel like as African American, we are an abused consumer. We’ve been given all these products that don’t work for all these years we haven’t gone to the gym, we haven’t gotten in the pool it’s like we really adding some freedom and some positivity beauty and all that stuff to women’s lives because I feel like, people are like why is curlBox such a big deal. I think it is because I’ve tried really hard to make it about more than just hair. It’s still very surreal, I’ve been out and this girl last week and she was like can I get a hug? I was like okay. It’s cool. It’s different. You know me; I did PR so I’ve always been in the background so to be able to take my skills and promote myself as my company is incredible.
No it’s been cool seeing it because I met you when you were doing PR for the One Music Festival so just seeing what you’re doing now it’s pretty inspiring.
People are like you’re so inspiring and I’m like it’s one of those things that’s hard for me to digest. I always say, when I broke up with my ex, I didn’t want to do it out of fear. If I could tell people one thing, I’d tell them, if you listen to that voice in your head it’s real, it’s not fake. As long as you honor those voices, you will be successful. It’s going to put you on the right path as long as you honor those.
If you had to say, I know it may be hard to say, but where do you want to see curlBox and yourself in five years?
In five years, I would want curlBox to be at the center of black beauty conversation. I just try to listen to my members and go out and travel and talk to people and see what they need and what they want. You never know with me. If you would’ve asked me five years ago, I would’ve never said this. I would’ve never guessed that I would be doing something that I absolutely love. I have been a product junky my whole life. In fact, my first boyfriend used to tell people that I know everything about nothing. If you asked me about hair, I could tell you product after product after product after method you could’ve tried.