Curlies, we’ve found the golden ticket! For all of our paychecks and time spent with natural hair products, there is finally a way for us to make sure that our time and money is well-spent.
Zolani Organics, a three month old business venture, has set out to provide you with homemade natural haircare and skincare products, all the while using your purchases to raise funds to give back to Africa. From buidling schools to providing books, founder Laurice M. has been dreaming of this day ever since she was little.
For us, the opportunity to buy the natural products we want while still being able to help others is monumental. Toms did it with shoes, and now Zolani Organics is bringing it to you natural style.
We sat down with Laurice to hear about her natural hair story and how she came up with the idea to create such a business.
When and why did you start this venture?
Well, I started this last year in November and my concept was to bring natural products to the market, but also to offer them for a great cause. So my primary cause was to help people in Africa. I’ve been there many times and seen the depression that is there, and I’ve always wanted to help, ever since I was a lot younger. I decided to bring these two together to create something big and help people.
It’s a great idea! What about you: are you natural?
Oh yes! My hair has been natural since I was 17 years old.
Wow! Tell me a little about that. What is your hair story?
Before then, my hair was relaxed. I was addicted to the creamy crack! It was about every few months and then, you know, you get the burns on your scalp, and I was thinking, “Why am I hurting mysef? Why not go with what God gave me?” After that, I said no more!
How did your family and friends react to that decision?
My friends were amazing! Once they saw the transformation in my hair, they immediatey switched over. None of my friends have gone back to the relaxers at all. It was pretty cool. We were all working together and transitioning and helping each other out, doing each other’s hair. It was a fun journey together.
What products were you and your friends using during your transition?
I just wanted to keep it extra simple, so I used a lot of shea butter. I would do a lot of the twists and everything like that and my hair would come out silky, silky smooth. I would use a little bit of gel here and there, but really I just kept it simple and it grew like wildfire!
Sounds like you had a great experience, and now you're bringing all of that love over to Africa. Tell me a little bit about these products. Do you make them yourself?
Yes, we do make them ourselves. We also package them. Once you place and order, we assemble it. Everything is done by us by hand. I even developed the site myself. I’ve been web designing since I was very young.
The site was started in November. What is your overall mission and goal?
Well, I’m really just trying to help out Africa. I went there a lot during college and learned about the various tribes and living there, so I’ve seen it first hand. That’s what really got me to really try to make a change through one of my other passions.
I love natural beauty, natural hair care – that has been one of my other passions for such a long time. I’m always putting something together, and I’ve come up with some great, great, great recipes that really work!
What prompted you to head over to Africa to begin with?
Well, its part of our heritage. I don’t know how to explain it or put it into words, but it always intrigued me and I’ve always had a connection with it ever since I was younger. My mother instilled in us and taught us what our heritage was, and to just have another connection to, you know, feel a completeness with it.
Exactly! Which is why what you are doing is so great! Not everyone has a chance to get over to Africa, but you are providing a way for us to help anyway!
What advice you have for someone who is just now putting the creamy crack down and beginning on that natural journey?
I would say be persistent and have faith, because when you see your hair growing, it just reminds you of your ancestry. It’ll be great when you see the end result. Take your time. Enjoy the journey. It will be an amazing spiritual anamoly.
Great advice! As far as Zolani Organics, how much have you raised so far? What’s been going on since you started?
Well, we have been raising funds here and there. So far, we only have $103 out of our $1000 goal. That’s pretty good, but we’re trying to build publicity and really trying to put the name out there to really seek the funds.
This weekend, I went to the library to gather books for Africa, and I noticed that they were throwing away books. But, if you go on Saturday, you can pick up those books. So I’ll be able to send those over as well. We are just really trying to raise inititive and funds to just help others.
What kind of products are you creating?
Right now, we are starting off with the shea butter and coconut oil, but we have a lot of ideas on the table. We also want to bring in natural skincare and natural fragrance oils. They’re from Saudi Arabia. Then there is the flaxseed oil and also black castor oil.
We really want to bring in a very large array of products to help your hair, your skin, even your scalp and your feet and your hands. All of that will be coming in the definite future.
As far as the money you are raising, what exactly is it going to? What organizations are you handing this off to?
Well, we are doing the initiaive ourselves. We have direct contact with each village that we go to. For instance, we were just in Bafoulabe which is in Mali, and we have contact with the chief up there. We’re also working to bring books and school supplies there, hopefully by December of this year (2012).
We’re also working with Aid Africa. We just established ties with them so that we can have joint initiatives. They are building schools in Uganda right now, so we have teamed up to help them raise the funds to build the schools there in the future. So far they have built over 2,000 schools.
That’s great! We’re more than willing to help out in anyway possible. Is there anything else you would like to add for the community?
I’m just so excited to be able to help! It’s my lifelong dream and I thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to get the message out there.