These childhood experiences have served as the inspiration for her two lines of natural hair and skin products -- Ebene Naturals and Akiva Naturals.

Nicaisse-Hethorn has been intrigued by hair textures since she was a young child. While working as a model, she often whipped up her own concoctions to help her overprocessed, chemically straightened, heat-damaged locks with ingredients such as shea butter and natural oils. At the request of friends, she began selling her mixtures for friends, making them one bottle at a time. At the time, she never thought it would turn into a full-time vocation.

Back in Haiti, my mother would have gone into the yard and picked some herbs to cure it.' So that's what she did. She did some research and created a mixture of shea butter, almond, jojoba, avocado and olive oils and Vitamin E and applied it to her daughter several times a day. Soon the excema was gone. And her Shea Butter Baby Balm was born. She continued to develop products, naming her line Ebene, which is French for ebony. Her motto was 'harmony between nature and humanity.'

The Whole Foods store couldn't keep it in stock, and soon other Whole Foods locations were ordering it. In early 2000, she launched the Ebene Naturals Web site. The Ebene line now has close to 75 hand-made hair and body products, ranging from Essential Hair Butter to Shea Butter Regenerating Hair Treatment Oil. She also has Ebene Kids, which sells such products as Gabby's Ding Dang Doo Hair Cream and Little Princess Hair Styling Lotion. All the products are 100 percent natural, cruelty free and do not contain synthetic oils, mineral oils, petrochemicals, articial bi-products, alcohol or artificial colors.

Over the past 18 months, Nicaisse-Hethorn made the decision to expand into products with other ingredients, including fragranced oils and beeswax. But she felt her Ebene customers, who tend to be 'ultra naturalists,' might not respond well to these types of products. In February, she officially launched Akiva Naturals, a sister company. She describes the Akiva customer as someone who wants 'natural with a flair.' The Akiva line includes raw materials such as shea, cocoa and mango butters, olive oil, vitamins and herbal infusions. All the products, such as Healthy Hair Honey, Healthy Hair Jam, Shea Hair Smoothie and Secret Potion, are free of synthetic preservatives, mineral oil, petro-chemicals, sulfates and artificial colors.