For most of her life, straight-haired Ilona Reece never thought twice about curly hair. Her goal was to become a police officer.

But when her daughter Tanisha was born 15 years ago, all of that changed.

Reece, who now has two curly daughters, has become a curl expert. The professional stylist has gained a reputation throughout Canada for her expertise in working with all curl textures, with some clients traveling from as far away as Kentucky.

Earlier this year, she launched her Taria Curlz instructional video for curly kids. She just introduced a line of five products specifically for kids with curly, kinky hair.

Like many hairdressers, Reece came by her knowledge on her own. The beauty school didn’t address the needs of textured hair.

‘I was always asking why we weren’t learning about curly hair and they would say ‘We don’t have a market for it,” Reece says. ‘As hairdressers, we should all be learning about it.’

She recalls working at a salon after graduating from beauty school and watching in horror as a black woman was turned away because the receptionist said the salon didn’t work on hair like hers.

‘My heart dropped,’ Reece recalls. ‘I thought ‘How would my daughter feel if somebody said that to her?’ On the spot, I decided I would learn how to work with curly hair myself.’

Michelle Breyer

Michelle Breyer

As co-founder of, a website for curly hair she began with her business partner and friend, Gretchen Heber, Michelle Breyer helped create the leading community and resource for people with curly hair. Frustrated by the lack of information on curly hair and the limited products available in the marketplace, the duo launched the site in 1998 with the help of a 14-year-old web designer. When Procter & Gamble called three years later to advertise to the® audience, Breyer knew they had indeed created a force in the industry, providing helpful information and unparalleled expertise for what was then considered a niche market.

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