Mariel Mejia is the founder and CEO of Pink Root Products, a cruelty free and organic Latinx brand carving its way in the natural hair market. As the champions of #GetRooted, Mariel has worked to create a dynamic and inclusive brand that seeks to aid one of the most common curly faux paus in the curly world, damaged hair. Naturalistas flock to her products for their rich ingredients that are hydrating, moisturizing, and promote healthy hair growth after heat and color damage. The products are an extension of Mariel’s hair journey which she sought to conquer after years of failed attempts to revive her own curls. We’re very excited to share more about Mariel’s journey to loving her hair, celebrating her Latinx heritage, and the fall essentials we should keep handy for our curls this season.
Who were your hair inspirations growing up?
Growing up, my hair inspirations changed a lot as I went through different phases of what I thought was beautiful but I would say that Tracee Ellis Ross was always on my mood board. When I first started watching American shows and media outlets, because Latinx ones rarely ever portrayed people who looked like me, it was Joan, Tracee’s character from the show ‘Girlfriends’, who stood out to me the most. Her hair was absolutely fabulous and I remember thinking “I wish I could rock my natural hair like that.”
How did growing up in Washington Heights influence how you viewed natural hair?
I was born and raised in the Bronx but I did a lot of growing up in Washington Heights as well since it was right across the river. In my early years, growing up in this community, I viewed my natural hair very negatively and it was here that I formed a toxic relationship with my hair. I started relaxing my hair at a very young age because I was taught that I had “pelo malo” which translates to “bad hair” in English. So although the Dominican community is very big on hair care in general and weekly salon visits were non-negotiable in my household, natural hair was looked down upon so I had to search elsewhere for information when I first went on my natural hair journey.
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How do you find support from your community as a Latinx business owner?
At the beginning of my journey as a business owner, I actually struggled a bit with incorporating my heritage into the brand because I wanted to make sure that everyone felt included and comfortable when picking up our products, But as I continued my entrepreneurship journey, I realized that I was really doing myself a disservice by shying away from this because so many people could truly relate to my story of having a broken relationship with my hair. When I started to lean toward being more vocal about who I am and my upbringing, I was able to connect on a deeper level with our community and that connection has brought much prosperity to the business through different opportunities of being able to tell our story.
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What does Latinx Heritage month represent to you?
To me, Latinx heritage month represents a celebration of who I am. Although the community still has a long way to go as far as representation for Afro and Indigenous Latinos, this month still brings me a lot of joy. I love where I am from – the food, the music, the culture – it’s all made me who I am today and for that I am grateful.
Which hair product will be a must-have item for the fall season and why?
The must-have hair product for the fall season is our leave-in conditioner! It’s so important to keep your hair hydrated and this starts the minute you step out of the shower. If you want to avoid breakage due to dryness caused by harsh cold air, then definitely be sure to apply some leave-in conditioner before beginning the styling process to fortify your hair strands. Formulated with sweet almond oil and keratin protein, our leave-in conditioner really helps to withstand and protect against any damage caused by low temperatures and high winds.
What are 3 tips for using your Curl Styling Paste?
The tips for our curl styling paste that I would suggest are:
1. Apply it in sections for optimal results.
2. A little goes a long way so be sure to not use too much as you don’t need to!
3. Use a brush for application for maximum definition. My favorite way to apply our curl styling paste is with a Denman brush to really define my curls and elongate them. It works like a charm each time.
How have Latinx communities adapted to changing beauty standards?
I think the Latinx community has been setting trends within the beauty space for a very long time and now it’s more about reclaiming our contributions. We were often viewed as “ghetto” or “hood” when it came to fashion and beauty but a lot of trends that we grew up on are now being repackaged to a different audience as “trendy.” We see this play out a lot on social media and so I think more than ever our community should be empowered to be vocal about our ability to be at the forefront of trends and not necessarily always following them. We don’t really need to adapt to the trends that we helped build.
What business advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
My piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to be authentic in your approach. Consumers have changed and they’re a lot more conscious when it comes to purchasing decisions so if you’re in it to just make a quick buck or to capitalize on a trending industry, customers will notice that so make sure that what you’re creating truly speaks to you because people will notice.
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