In honor of Small Business and Mental Health Awareness Month, I’d like to introduce you to an emerging natural haircare brand, One Little Parrot, that is on a mission to educate the community on mental health and the importance of treating those affected with love and respect. Learn how the founder, DeQuanda Smith, overcame postpartum depression, uses her story to empower others on the importance of self-love and is connecting naturals from all over the country to conquer the stigmas of mental health.
Quick back story: I met DeQuanda Smith (aka Coach Dee) when I was 17-years old. She used to train my volleyball team in the Summers and became a mentor I admired for her resilient hustle and spirit. After I graduated high school, I went off to college and we lost contact. Fast forward to today: I started working at NaturallyCurly and we partnered with the Natural Partners in Crime to bring the Quintessentials Naturals Tour to Austin during SXSW and she was one of the vendors, crazy right?! I’m a huge believer that nothing is a coincidence and the universe is always working in your favor. I’m beyond proud of Coach Dee and can’t wait for you to learn about her journey.
What inspired you to create One Little Parrot? Share your motivation for wanting to create this line, why it’s bigger than hair and what’s the meaning of the name.
With a big heart to support the indigent mental health community, I made and distributed care packages to those in need. This consisted of basic hygiene products such as soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. I donated clean, bottled water to families in Flint, Michigan with children now suffering from mental illness do to lead poisoning. To fund these endeavors, I decided to make hair care products to sell to coworkers. After a few applications of my homemade tresses butter, several of my coworkers experienced exponential hair growth and moisture retention. They urged me to brand the formula and make it available to the world. A few batches later, I took their advice!
One Little Parrot” is a reference to bible verse, Matthew 6:25-27, describing how if God can take care of just one bird in the sky, then he certainly has love for the person affected by mental illness. One Little Parrot is a constant reminder that there is always hope.
I absolutely love how one of your missions is to educate others on mental health awareness. Can you share why you chose to support this initiative? How does this initiative relate to your personal journey?
As a psych nurse who has managed to overcome postpartum depression with the help of my peers, naturally I wanted to pay it forward. The packaging for each One Little Parrot product contains the words “Be Mindful. Don’t Judge” and a short paragraph compelling the reader to treat everyone with love and respect, because mental illness does not have a face. Many people who need help don’t seek it, in fear of judgment, so if we can minimize that fear by bringing it into the light, more people will get the help that they need.
What do you feel helped you get where you’re at today?
A dream and perseverance was all I needed. I took my background in chemistry, my experience with psychiatric patients and my love for the natural hair movement and decided to combine them in the most effective way I could, to birth a business that would intertwine them all.
The most important lesson I learned is that I needed to depend on myself, and only myself, to realize my dreams.
Tell me about your handcraft creations, One Little Parrot, and how this hair product stands out from others?
My hope is to be able to debunk the ideation of there being one single hair product or vitamin that will make your hair grow. Instead, by promoting the importance of caring for oneself through healthy eating, exercise and emotional peace. Those factors play a tremendous part in the growth of hair and nails.Ultimately, what we put in our hair is absorbed by the body. With this in mind I created “One Little Parrot” products with organic and natural ingredients for safe and effective results. Staying away from harsh chemicals. “One Little Parrot” engages our customers regularly to determine how we can create products that best suit their needs. We’ve recently honored several requests for a protein free styling product that provides nutrients and hydration. Our difference is to continue to maintain a connection with our customers, even as we grow, to produce new innovative products.
What are some projects you're working on and what can we expect from you in the future?
I am currently working with local schools in the Houston area in effort to promote positive self-image, raise self esteem, and educate them on the seriousness of bullying and suicide. One Little Parrot is not only committed to delivering effective, natural haircare products, but also to bringing community awareness of psychological health concerns. I hope to reach out to as many women as possible. To educate them about mental illness and promote love and respect within the community. The natural hair movement has brought women from all walks of life together, and I want to take advantage of that to spread knowledge of mental illness and fight mental health stigma.