Julissa Prado is the trailblazing CEO behind Rizos Curls, the trail blazing natural curl brand providing clean hair care for any curl type. The high quality ingredients, community, and authentic connection Prado has desired to create with her customers has been a staple of the brand and it’s journey from Ecommerce to the shelves. Prado aimed to create an inclusive like of products that would not only aid the common curly user but help them to embrace the beauty of natural hair. The brand recently celebrated its 4th birthday and we were ecstatic to chat with Julissa about all things beauty.
How would you describe your natural hair journey?
Growing up, my curls were a pain point for sure, because culturally having curly hair was “ugly,” so it did make me want to have straight hair. In school, I was called “puff ball,” “frizz puff,” and other things so it further drove the illusion that straight hair is pretty hair. I remember when I was around 5 years old I went to the hair salon with my mom for my first haircut, back when they had hair styles you’d pick from a salon book. The stylist asked me to “go through this book and tell me what haircut you want” mostly to keep me distracted. I remember finding a picture of a girl with super long straight blonde hair and I excitedly ran to the hair stylist and told her “I want my hair just like her!” Everyone looked at me with my huge gravity defying curly hair at the time and started laughing. That moment has always played such a critical moment because all I wanted was straight hair after that.
It wasn’t until I was in High School, where I started embracing my natural hair. I went to a progressive high school where we learned race theory, and how many of the standards of beauty we have internalized are a result of systems of inequality against people of color. I realized that I needed to love my hair and dismantle my previous beliefs around my hair being ugly or less than.
What was one of the biggest challenges you had transitioning from customer to CEO?
One of the biggest challenges was to finally create and bring to life what I always wanted for my own hair because as a customer what I wanted out in the market was not there. I was very relentless in the fact that there were products that I wanted for myself and I needed to create them. What was eye opening was that once I started that process of trying to create these products, I then understood why these products I was after (clean, natural, high-quality ingredients, etc.) weren't available because the access to these ingredients, learning the price difference of natural ingredients versus synthetics, etc. Creating these products with these ingredients was such an uphill battle. So now I have such an admiration for brands that are doing things in a clean transparent way from an ingredients aspect. Because as a customer you think it's so easy to just create products in a certain way versus actually doing it.
How would you describe Rizos Curls in three words?
Curls, Community, and Culture
“Clean hair care” is becoming a very popular segment of the market, so why should naturalistas invest in brands with clean ingredients?
I can’t speak for the whole industry, but having clean ingredients in our products is a priority for Rizos Curls. My goal is not just to make your hair look beautiful at that moment but I want to nourish your hair and scalp to be healthy from a long term aspect with continued use.
You recently expanded into styling tools, what are the benefits of diffusing vs. air drying?
What I love about curly natural hair is that we can create a variety of styles and looks once we know how to use all the tools available to us along with understanding hair texture, pattern and porosity. The more options you have out there for your scalp and hair the better. A diffuser gives people the ability to bring out additional volume and definition. People with wavier hair patterns really benefit from a diffuser as it really enhances that pattern. Plus, women with various textures who struggle with even patterns may be due to damage, the diffuser helps even out and enhance the pattern.
Your new line features three different types of combs, what are the benefits of using a comb instead of detangling with your fingers?
This comes down to preference and texture. Some people like wide tooth comb, some like a natural hair brush and some love using their fingers, so we come out with products based on customer feedback of what they want next across all hair styles.
For example, I personally love the Rizos Curls Pink Detangling Flexi Brush because it glides through my curls to easily detangle, it’s super comfortable on my scalp thanks to the curved shape and helps to evenly distribute product.
What are your tips for maintaining moisture in the colder months?
Deep conditioning is key for colder months. I have my signature deep conditioning low bun for those deep conditioning days. I start off with putting oil in my scalp (I’ve been testing an oil for more than a year that I plan to launch soon and can be used as a pre-poo), then I put our Rizos Curls Deep Conditioner from the mid shaft to the ends of my hair. Once the conditioner is evenly distributed, I put my hair in a low bun, go about my day so that the conditioner is saturating my hair for hours and then wash it out when it’s wash time.
If you could give younger naturalistas advice about embracing their curls, what would it be?
I would tell them that the perception that curly hair is more difficult than straight is not true. Curly hair just requires a different method and education. Once you learn the method to your curl type and pattern, you will love it and see the freedom in all the ways you can rock your hair.
How does the community play a role in building the Rizos brand?
So much of our decisions, innovation and so much of our everyday activities are based on our community and what our community is asking us for. They said “we want a pump for your bottles!" So, we sourced a pump that can be added to any of our bottles. “We want a refreshing spray, a small business summit, etc.” Our community calls the shots and we execute.
Rizos recently launched in major retailers like Ulta and Sally Beauty, what’s next for the brand in 2022?
We are excited to be launching new products very soon which will complement anyone’s wash day regimen.