Trove Artist Management is excited to launch our fourth season of Ladies To The Front, a blog series celebrating exceptional women in our lady-boss network.
We are so honored to be connecting with Michelle Breyer, co-founder of NaturallyCurly.com (now TextureMedia, LLC.) Michelle is an inspiring entrepreneur, author, mom, and proud owner of some seriously fierce curls.
Michelle Breyer, Co-Founder of NaturallyCurly.com | Photography: Tania Quintanilla
Tell us a little bit about starting your brand and how it has evolved.
I was a curly girl growing up in a straight-haired world. I spent most of my life straightening my curls and hoping that nobody would realize I actually had curly hair. When I moved to Texas from California, all bets were off. I had to figure out how to work with my texture rather than fighting it. I had two curly friends at the newspaper I was working at, and we would regularly bitch about our hair. Somebody overheard one of our bitch sessions at a friend's brunch and thought it was so amazing that a group of women could complain about their hair for 45 minutes straight.
He suggested we create a magazine or website. We were a little tipsy on mimosas and got on the computer at the party and came up with a name and purchased the domain that same day. From our own experience, we knew that there was such a lack of information, products, etc. for curly hair.
Over the next few months, we came up with ideas for the site - things that we needed for ourselves (a forum, a place to review stylists, product reviews, etc.) My neighbor's 14-year-old son was our web designer. In September 1998, NaturallyCurly launched. From the beginning, we talked in terms of texture rather than ethnicity, and the site reflects the diversity of our community.
In the beginning, NaturallyCurly was pretty bare bones. We worked on it in our spare time. But people found us. Hundreds of daily visits grew to thousands.
Over the years, the site has evolved dramatically. We now have active followings across multiple social platforms, and we are known for events like Texture on the Runway - a full-blown runway show during NY Fashion Week where the hair is front and center. We reach more than 16 million monthly followers across our social channels. We also have a market research division and work with companies to help them develop and market products to the curly market.
It's a much more competitive world than it was when we started. There are thousands of influencers in the curly space, and we have learned the power of partnerships.
Congratulations on the success of your book, The Curl Revolution! How was the experience of writing the book?
It was an incredible experience, and really reinvigorated me and reminded me of why we started NaturallyCurly in the first place. Over the course of a few months, I interviewed more than 100 women - some well-known curlies, and some community members - about their curl stories. It was incredibly inspiring, but also reinforced the need for a community like NaturallyCurly. Curlies are a unique group, and we are always looking for newer, better ways to work with our hair.
Tell us about some of the women that inspire you.
This is so hard. There are so many women I've come across in this industry who are so inspirational - other entrepreneurs who were sick of waiting for things to be done so they created them on their own.
But ultimately, I'd have to say, my mother. At 81, she's still knocking on doors for political candidates, marching in protest rallies, volunteering for important causes. She's been doing this her whole life. We were boycotting grapes when I was a kid because she wanted to support the Farm Workers. We marched in "No Nuke" rallies, we marched in peace marches. She has always ingrained in us the importance of standing up for what you believe in. I see the impact she has on people around her.
What is some of the best advice you have been given or lessons learned?
Sometimes, you just have to listen to your gut and disregard all the naysayers. When we first started out, everybody laughed when we told them about our business. We had a lot of people who flat out told us it was a bad idea. "Why don't you focus on hair in general rather than just curly hair?" Had we listened to them, I doubt we would have been successful.
What do you love about living/working in Austin, Texas?
There is such an incredible sense of community in Austin. Everybody seems to know someone who knows someone. I love going to the grocery store and running into a bunch of random friends.
I also love how supportive this city has been to small businesses. There is so much support for entrepreneurs. Everybody is so willing to help you out and donate their time and connect you with people.
Shout out to another lady boss that you love or are inspired by:
I love Elaine Welteroth. She was the editor of Teen Vogue. She was the youngest editor-in-chief ever at Conde Nast. As a former journalist, I have so much respect for how she was able to transform the magazine. Rather than focusing on superficial topics - how to get a date for prom - it dedicated its coverage to politics, social justice and feminism alongside fashion, beauty and pop culture. Having a teenage daughter, I was so thankful for someone who believed that young women should be exposed to important issues.
Tell us about any great books you are reading.
I'm reading a fantastic book by Jodi Picoult called Small Great Things. I love the way her books tell a story through the point of view of multiple characters.
NaturallyCurly will host Texture on the Runway '18 in New York on September 6th. It kicks off NY Fashion Week, and will show the world that curls and coils are beautiful and fashionable. It will be their fourth year hosting the event in New York (They just hosted their first Texture on the Runway in Atlanta last month.)
"I'm so proud that Texture on The Runway has become a must-see event for a lot of beauty editors and influencers." Here is a video from last year's event.
Photo by Tania Quintanilla. Hairstyling by curl expert Bianca Castillo, Makeup by Shannon Van Horn.
Photographed at SHDW Studios in Austin, Texas.
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