scr

When Kim Etheredge walked into a beauty store, she never knew in which direction to head.

The stores were segregated, with ethnic products in one place and other products for curly hair in another. There was no in between.

'I never knew what would work for my curls,' says Etheredge, the daughter of an Irish mother and an African-American father. 'I had to search from one end of the store to the other to concoct a combination for my unruly, kinky, wild hair.'

Wendi Levy, the daughter of an African-American mother and a Jewish father, had long shared her frustration.

'When Kim and I met, we were laughing about our common problem,' says Levy. So Etheredge and Levy decided to create their own hair product line -- products that would appeal to women of all ethnicities. Two years later, they launched Mixed Chicks. Their tag line is 'Are you tired of defining our race rather than our curls?' 'We don't want to exclude anybody from using it,' Levy says.

The first product in their line is a leave-in conditioner. The alcohol-free conditioner, which they launched in April, contains ingredients such as primrose oil, jojoba oil and a little bit of emulsifying wax. It has a pH of between 4 and 5, which Levy says is ideal for curly, kinky hair.

They plan to add other products to the line and currently are working on a shampoo.

Both women have traveled a long path to their current venture. Levy, 36, grew up in Atlantic City.

'It was very segregated there,' she says. 'You either lived in one neighborhood or another.'

She has been doing hair since she was 7, learning about ethnic products from her mother.

'I did my mother's highlights and relaxers,' she recalls.

Levy began combining products, mixing hairdressing grease with mousse, leave-in conditioner, 'with a touch of Dippity Do.' She was changing the mixture all the time. Etheredge, 34, was born in New York and raised in Culver City, Calif.. She recalls growing up in a condominium complex with many multiracial neighbors.

'All my friends had curly, crazy, kinky hair,' Etheredge says. 'Nobody knew which products to put in their hair.'

She spent years straightening her hair with a blowdryer. She keep her hair under control using a combination of Aqua Net and Dippity Do.

'My hair was hard, crunchy and nasty,' she says. 'I used to slick it back on the top and wear the back curly.'

Now a public relations consultant for NFL player Terrell Owens and R&B artist Keith Sweat, she spent many years as a television production coordinator, working on numerous sitcoms, talk shows and pilots.

After moving to California four years ago to pursue a career in the music industry, she met Etheredge.

'Wendi always had the best curls,' recalls Etheredge. 'We always compared curls.' The two women began experimenting with products.

'We thought that if we put together products we liked, there probably a ton of people out there looking for something like it,' Levy says.

So they did some research, found a good chemist and brought some of their favorite products. It took five trips back to the lab before they found the perfect concoction -- 'a little of this, a little of that.' Their curly friends served as guinea pigs. But even their straight-haired friends have become fans.

'The feedback has been phenomenal,' Etheredge says.

0 Comments

Social