Although Rachel Blistein has a head of tight 3c ringlets, she doesn't want her new line of natural hair products to be limited to those with curls, kinks and coils.
"It would have been easier to create a line for curly hair, but I believe strongly it is important to address every hair type," Blistein says. "It grew into Original Moxie."
3-D Diagnostic System
Original Moxie is a line of paraben- and sulfate-free hair products which can be customized to your hair based on the 3-D Diagnostic System displayed on each product's label. The system classifies hair according to three characteristics: density (thickness and strand diameter), dryness and degree of curl.
"Most hair-care companies target their products to broad categories like curly or straight, or simply ignore hair type altogether," Blistein says. "We understand that purchasing hair products can be confusing and want to make sure that our customers are fully engaged partners in the process, and that they have all the tools they need to choose a product that will work for them."
Learning to Love Her Curls
Like many of NaturallyCurly's visitors, Blistein had an adversarial relationship with her hair growing up. She was surrounded by friends with straight, feathered 'dos and was "always searching for a look that was unattainable." She chemically relaxed her hair, damaging her scalp and turning her hair into straw.
It wasn't until grad school at Morgan State University, a historically black school, that she truly accepted her tight curls.
"It was an eye-opening experience to see all these beautiful women with hair of all different curl problems," Blistein says. "Suddenly, my hair wasn't something to be remarked upon. It was just normal."
So began her quest to truly embrace her curls—a journey that included Lorraine Massey's "Curly Girl: The Handbook" and experimentation with every kind of hair product available.
Original Moxie products
Dissatisfied with what was available, she started concocting her own products four years ago, researching ingredients and customizing existing recipes using a variety of ingredients.
"I started figuring out what worked and what didn't," Blistein says. "Basic chemistry is something most people can understand. But I think you have to have a good intuitive sense of the properties of ingredients."
She started off making products for herself and her curly friends, including a deep conditioner, a leave-in conditioner and a no-foam shampoo. Eventually, she came up with products for her straight-haired husbands.
"Those ends of the spectrum grew closer and filled the gaps," Blistein says.
A Moxie Girl is Born
Blistein originally launched Original Moxie in 2009, getting her products onto the shelves of a local natural-food retailer.
"That was the moment I thought, 'This is serious and I need to put time into it'," Blistein says.
She launched her web site in December, and now sells her Original Moxie products at stores and salons around Michigan.
Her product offerings, which all contain natural herbs and botanical oils, have evolved over time with the help of customer requests. One woman, for example, had extensions and asked for a mix between an oil and lotion that would be easier to apply. The result was Scalp Therapy.
"That's typical for most of the products," she says. "It's a personal development process."
Original Moxie has grown to 18 products. Roughly 80 percent work well on curly hair, Hair Bling High Shine Pomade, Intense Quench Deep Conditioner and Twist Mist Lightweight Shine. The company's slogan is "be youtiful," which sums up the company's philosophy of celebrating differences. Its logo—a curvaceous peacock with tail unfurled, is meant to convey a sense of pride in your own unique style—whether your hair is straight, super coily, or somewhere in-between.
"Curly hair will always be my first love," she says. "When you're curly, and you find something that works, it really can change your whole life. But I believe my products for straight hair are just as strong as my curly products. I get misty eyed knowing I'm crossing racial and textural divisions at my company."