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Beyond the Box: House of Cheatham

We hooked up with Dwan White, Director of Global Marketing & Product Development for House of Cheatham, to discuss brand aesthetics, ever-changing hair and mainstream competition. You probably know the beauty house from their Africa’s Best and Aunt Jackie’s lines. Publicists, innovators, beauty gurus and stylists, take notes.

How has the curly hair industry surprised you?

Dwan: What caught many in this industry off guard was that the curly/natural trend, which usually cycles in and out every decade, quickly morphed from trend to movement.  Within a couple of years, women of every ethnicity joined the “texture” conversation. That conversation led to a texture movement that has changed how we approach product development.

What thoughts go into the creation of your brand’s aesthetics? Aunt Jackie’s has a nostalgic look and many of your models are chocolate-toned and gorgeous. Is this on purpose? 

Dwan: The aesthetic bites off of the quirky vintage motif that you see in a lot of today’s fashion and interior design.  It’s kind of shabby-chic for hair.  Our Aunt Jackie’s models represent different skin tones and hair textures. I deliberately wanted women to see the models and be able to easily relate to at least one of them.

Are Black beauty brands providing enough competition for mainstream brands that offer products for African-American men and women? 

Dwan: Black beauty brands offer stiff competition.  Products developed with Black women in mind offer far more variety and have formulations that are better for African-oriented hair textures than those in the mainstream. Additionally, they are generally more affordable.  Although Black beauty brands don’t have as much mass market retail distribution as their mainstream counterparts, the OTC (independent beauty supply stores) channel gives our brands shelf space, and are in neighborhoods where they can be easily found.

What’s the ONE most important factor when creating digital campaigns for a beauty brand?

Dwan: Consistently providing a brand experience. By visiting our website, reading our Facebook & Twitter posts, reading emails, or just seeing digital ads, people should feel like they really know Aunt Jackie’s through the way we communicate the brand’s essence.  The last thing we want is for Aunt Jackie’s to be confusing because people don’t understand the brand.

With the spotlight on product ingredients, how does your company choose what goes into each product? 

Dwan: We did extensive research to find out more about what women with natural curls, waves and coils want and don’t want in their hair products.  With that in mind, Aunt Jackie’s was formulated to best address those issues, while doing our best to be eco-friendly and comply with FDA standards.

What inspires you most? 

Dwan: Professionally, I’m inspired by creative thinkers.  I’m motivated by the challenge to develop fresh, innovative ideas or the challenge to put a bright, new spin on an old one.

Does your job influence your personal hair choices? 

Dwan: My lifestyle and life-stage have always influenced my personal hair choices. I love versatility and get very bored with the same style for too long. For many years, I’ve switched back and forth between natural, relaxed and texturized.  Right now, I’m in the 3rd stage of hair development where it is changing texture and not growing as fast. So, it is cut short in pixie-ish layers with bangs. My current look is quick and easy to style, very versatile and hides some of my hair flaws.

What’s HOC’s mantra? 

Dwan: We don’t have a mantra, per se, but with every product we develop, we hold ourselves to the standard: High Quality – Affordable Price.

What are your three favorite HOC products?

Dwan: Hard to narrow my favorites to just three, because they change depending on what I’m doing to my hair.  When it is:

Natural:  Aunt Jackie’s In Control Conditioner (it softens and prevents shrinkage)

Relaxed:  Organics Thermal Radiance HeatGuard Thermal Styling Protectant (feather-light weight heat protection that leaves my hair feeling silky & moveable and damage-free)

Texturized:  Texture My Way Texturizing System (my hair is not naturally curly, but this loosens my natural texture just enough to make it look like I have a head of natural silky curls).

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