Michelle Breyer is the president and co-founder of TextureMedia, Inc., which is the parent company of NaturallyCurly.com and CurlyNikki.com. With over 17 years in the curly hair industry, she is a true Curl Boss. Find out what really inspired her to leap into this previously untapped market despite the constant naysayers and doubt from her journalist peers. She is a happy wife to Jody Seaborn and mother to curly girl Emma.
Embracing my own curls didn't happen overnight.It took me a long time to embrace my curls. My mother cut my hair into a pixie until I was in 8th grade and I finally rebelled. Then I tried every method possible to straighten it – hot rollers, blow dryers, sleeping in plastic rollers, plastering my hair with hairspray. I even tried getting chemical relaxers, and made the mistake once of getting a lye relaxer over a thio-based relaxer, which gave me a chemical haircut. It was not until I moved to Texas in my late 20s that I started wearing my hair curly. I didn’t fully embrace it until my early 30s, when a stylist finally gave me a cut that worked with my texture.
To be honest, everyday I still get up and struggle with my curls.I never straighten it because I do not think I look good with straight hair--but that does not mean I don't face the struggles of humidity, shrinkage, bad haircuts and all of things that make having curly hair a daily adventure. I know that what we are doing is so important because we help show the world that texture is here to stay and it needs to be taken seriously.
Travelling with curly hair is... interesting.
Always be prepared. Bring tools for plan A but also some Plan B items in case the day does not go as planned. For me, that means carrying my favorite Ouidad pomade, Bumble and bumble Dry Hairdressers Oil, and hairspray--either Bumble and bumble Spray de Mode, Devacurl Flexible Hold or Ouidad Curl Last Flexible-Hold--along with some ponytails and bobby pins to put my hair in a bun. I bring these in case of extreme humidity, travel delays, hat head, or other factors turn my curls into an unmanageable mess. I also bring along a powder compact, my favorite lipsticks--I feel naked without lipsticks--a pack of gum, my phone charger, and a good book.
I believe big is the new long--the bigger my hair, the better.
I also bring along those products that I know work in most weather conditioners--my blow dryer, diffuser, and my curling wand to reform those curls that don't want to play well. I like my hair big, so right before walking into a meeting, I rub a little pomade between my hands, bend over, rub my hair at the roots, spray in a little hair spray and flip my hair back. I believe big is the new long, and the bigger my hair, the better.
My Holy Grails
- Paul Mitchell Fast Form: it’s a cream-gel that works in most weather conditions
- Amika Tourmaline Clip-Free Curler Wand: It creates curls that look natural. I only need to do a few strands to give my 3b curls a more finished look
- Curlisto Active Oxygen Hair Dryer: It’s light and dries incredibly fast. It also comes with a perfect bowl diffuser for my curls.
- Ouidad Clear Control Pomade: This stuff is amazing. It helps my curls keep their definition and gets rid of that halo of curls throughout the day.
- Phillips Flexible Hook Earphones: You can listen to TV or movies on the plane without disrupting your curls.
- Marc Jacobs Perfection Powder: The perfect powder that gets rid of shine and makes me look more finished
- Dolce & Gabbana Daring lipstick: I stopped a clerk at Sephora to ask her what lipstick she was wearing. This bright pink looks good on everyone and makes you look and feel glamorous
Throughout my career, there have been a lot of pivotal moments rather than a single turning point.
I remember one of the first was at one of the company's first "Curl Gatherings" with a room filled with women of all ages, all hair textures, all ethnicities. Women came up to me telling me how our site had changed their lives. One woman in her 50s showed me her old company badge with her hair pulled back tightly in a ponytail. She said she had hated her hair her whole life and had never worn it down until she discovered NaturallyCurly. The woman standing in front of me with beautiful curls framing her face and full of confidence looked nothing like the photo on her badge.
The woman standing in front of me with beautiful curls framing her face and full of confidence looked nothing like the photo on her badge.
A second moment was when we decided to boycott the “Princess Diaries” in 2001 because the main character needed a major makeover of curly hair to be viewed as a princess--a theme we believed sent a horrible message to teenage girls about embracing their natural beauty. Our boycott was publicized around the world, and at that moment, I realized that we were a voice for so many people.
I am a Curl Boss because I have no fear.
I am not afraid to walk up to people on the street and tell them how beautiful hair is and take their picture. I am also not afraid to tell a CEO at a major hair company that they need to come up with better offerings for curly hair or the head of a cosmetology school that they need to start training their students on how to work with texture. Someone once told me "Don’t try to be someone you're not. Embrace what it is that makes you unique. Confidence is everything."
The curly hair industry has come so far.
How hasn’t it changed? There were only a handful of hair products in 1997 when we first came up with the idea for NaturallyCurly. Very few hairdressers knew what to do with curls. And you rarely saw curly actresses, except if they were trying to look wild and messy.
Today, curls have become a part of the beauty landscape. There are huge sections in stores dedicated to them, hair salons that specialize in them and hundreds of blogs and YouTube channels catering to curlies. The naysayers realize that curls and coils should not be viewed only as a passing trend--here for a season and gone the next.
2015 has been an exciting year!
There are so many amazing things happening. In July, I will be receiving the Lifetime curlCHIEVEMENT Award from curlBOX and will be featured on CurlBox TV. Later in the month, I will be doing a live segment on Karen Tappin’s Karen Says Talk Show. I am also working on some fun campaigns for some exciting curl product launches in late 2015 and 2016.
Still, there’s a lot of work to do.
Cosmetology schools still don’t teach their students how to work with texture, and this needs to change. In five years, I envision the term “ethnic hair care” continuing to disappear. The focus on hair textures will grow. We are already seeing that at stores like Target, and most brands in the category now offer products for a wide range of textures.
I'd like every curly girl to know this: their curls are a vital part of who they are. That doesn’t mean they have to wear it curly every day. But those curls can be such a huge asset if they wear them with confidence.