In the season of New Year and New You aspirations, Malkia Essentials is spreading awareness by educating consumers about the importance of choosing hair care products that contain natural ingredients.
While selling all natural hair and skin care products, founder and licensed cosmetologist Theresa Withers views her business as more of an education for both men and women of color. “We can’t use certain products on our hair and skin — we have to use all natural ingredients when it comes to both,” she advises.
The Road to Hair Recovery
Born out of a desire to better her hair, Theresa built Malkia Essentials out of her own home. Back in 2015, she decided to go natural and chose hair products that didn’t contain harmful chemicals — but it didn’t exactly turn out the way she expected.
“I kept getting recommendations from my friends, but when I would use the products, they just made my hair really bad. My scalp was itching, my hair was breaking — I needed something that worked for my hair,” she says.
As a licensed cosmetologist, Theresa knew just the right ingredients to put together that could help. After a few months of trial and error, she created her first hair care product and used it for about six months.
“It completely changed my hair,” she shares. “It went from dry and breaking to being super soft, moisturized and it was even growing.”
A Hair Care Sanctuary
Theresa’s clients even noticed a difference in her hair — and wanted the same stuff she was using. After selling a few bottles here and there, customers were coming back asking for more. This is when she knew she could make a business out of it. And thus, Malkia Essentials was born in 2020.
Today, Malkia Essentials has expanded to 17 products, offering a variety of hair care solutions. It even has a beard line for men. As a black-owned woman-run business, the brand is home to natural solutions for textured hair and dreadlocks to keep it healthy and growing.
Each product is handmade and consists of organic ingredients to encourage healthy hair growth and maintenance. The brand’s focus is to provide consumers with products that are safe, sustainable, eco-friendly and cruelty free, as stated on its website.
Theresa says that she plans to expand her product line even further to include a children’s line, lotions, deodorant and soaps.
A Few Bumps in the Road
With no business background, Theresa has faced plenty of struggles along the path of creating Malkia Essentials. “I didn’t realize so many pieces went into having a business,” she notes. “One of the main things I struggle with is my marketing. I’m trying to figure it out so I can build brand awareness, but it’s been a challenge.”
While social media is a great way to get your brand name out there, it can be difficult to master. Especially in a sea of thousands of other businesses trying to do the exact same thing.
“I do everything by myself so if I run into a roadblock, I don’t have someone to help lead me in the right direction,” she says. “It’s been a slow, long journey. I had to learn along the way that it’s OK to ask for help and seek advice from someone else that’s been down the same road.”
For other small businesses that are just starting their own journey, Theresa advises to do your research and understand that there are helpful, free resources around you.
“Social media is a big help in today’s age — you can learn a lot from there instead of just scrolling. Learn all of the key components you need to start a business, follow the right people and utilize tools that are readily available to you at the moment. If you need additional help and have the budget, invest in yourself and your business because in the long run, it will only help you grow,” Theresa suggests.
The Small Business Administration has a plethora of resources and guides for small businesses just getting started or who need general guidance. They even have loans to help with your funding needs.
Targeting Customers with Hair Care Needs
The marketing that has worked well for Malkia Essentials, according to Theresa, is PR. Her team helps her get in touch with magazines and other media outlets to help spread the word. Utilizing a PR company helps target the right audience — which, for Theresa, are men and women of color.
“A lot of people who like my products are between the ages of 21 and 44, those that are seeking products for their natural hair, something that will help their texture and hair type and those looking to use products that don’t contain chemicals,” she states.
While a certain demographic can certainly benefit the most from Malkia Essentials merchandise, Theresa says she doesn’t have just one target audience. And it all comes back to educating her customers.
“I just want to educate everyone that we need to stick with what works best for our hair. We can’t use just anything for our hair and skin — we have to use natural ingredients because they work the best,” she says.