From where do you hail and how long have you been natural?
Rochelle “BlackOnyx” Graham. I am from Jamaica and currently reside in Fort Myers, FL. I have been natural for 5 years.
What prompted your decision to go natural?
My mom’s transition to natural hair was my inspiration. She was working out and her relaxed hair was not holding up with her intense workout regime. She wanted a hairstyle that reflected her new “healthier” head-to-toe outlook. Witnessing her transformation inspired me to cut my braided extensions out and relearn how to maintain my own natural hair without all the artificial frills.
Describe your big chop experience.
Lack of resources definitely played a role in the damage that came when I over processed my hair with color after my 1st big chop. The 2nd big chop was more emotional than my “freeing myself” 1st big chop because with the 2nd big chop I was cutting off natural hair that had been damaged, not relaxed hair.
Did you ever encounter any opposition from friends or family, or wrestle with any major difficulties in the beginning of your journey?
My family and friends have been very supportive from day 1. My husband has been my #1 supporter; encouraging me to rock my natural curls…from a TWA to wash & gos…he has embraced my hair’s versatility at every stage.
Describe your hair texture. Kinky and soft
What does your monthly routine look like?
I deep condition on a weekly basis with either our Avocado Creme Moisture Repairing Hair Mask or Honey & Sage Deep Conditioner. To keep my hair hydrated I apply our Lemongrass Leave-in Conditioner daily and lock in moisture weekly with Shine Crave Hair Glosser followed by either one of our fabulous moisturizers: Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer or Moisture Rich Hair Parfait. I love pairing the Lemongrass Leave In Conditioner with the Shea Yogurt Hair Moisturizer for twist outs. I massage my scalp every other evening with the Essential Growth Oil.
We know you had a baby boy fairly recently. Belated congratulations! Many women experience increased growth during pregnancy and excessive shedding after giving birth. What were your experiences regarding growth and shedding and how did you adjust?
Thanks so much. My son is my little gummy bear. i did not have increased growth before or after but due to my health conditions (PCOS and Hyperthyroidism) plus pregnancy, I experienced excessive shedding, breakage, brittleness and hair loss. I had to make sure I stuck to my Alikay Naturals Healthy Hair Regimen, deep conditioning treatments every single weekend no matter what, and my Essential 17 Growth Oil & Shea Yogurt Moisturizer became my best friends.
What are your go-to styles when you’re short on time or just feeling lazy?
Pin up or bun
What do you feel is the most crucially beneficial thing you do for your hair?
Moisture is essential for healthy hair. The LOC Method to be a great way for sealing moisture into my natural tresses.
What is something you feel is a major don’t for your hair?
NEVER compromise hair health for hairstyles.
Did you expect such success and recognition to come from the documentation of your journey on YouTube?
No. Initially, I began documenting my natural hair journey with photos and videos to use as a reference point for determining the best ways to re-create my hair styles later. I was bouncing between college classes and working, so the videos made it easier for me to remember what I did to achieve different looks. As more people started inquiring about what I did to achieve different styles on my natural hair, I started creating instructional videos to support other women as they embarked on the same path. At the time, I never imagined that those videos would spark the birth of Alikay Naturals as an influential brand in the natural hair community.
Where did the name Alikay Naturals come from?
Alikay is my middle name. Derived from the Nigerian word “Alika” meaning “most beautiful.” It is also the Hawaiian form of Alex, meaning “the protector.”
How did you go about creating and building Alikay Naturals to what it is today?
Being a natural hair vlogger enabled me to gain a lot of product knowledge, as well as feedback on what consumers were looking for before launching Alikay Naturals. My husband and I drafted a business plan and launched Alikay Naturals without taking out a loan.
We understand your grandmother is a Jamaican herbalist. How, if at all, did her profession influence the choice of ingredients in your product line?
My grandmother was very influential in my choice of ingredients because she has taught me to look for quality. She also peaked my interest in wanting to choose the natural route and use natural ingredients as remedies to address concerns and needs that I was experiencing with my natural hair.
Did you have any formal training with the herbs from your grandmother or anyone else?
I wouldn’t say “formal training” but i worked with her side-by-side over the years so I have years of experience and exposure. Being from the islands, natural resources play a major role our live and we use herbs daily.
Are there any prominent ingredients in your products that you feel our hair benefits the most from?
I can’t pinpoint to say that there’s one specific ingredient because all of the ingredients we use are all focused to keep our natural hair moisturized.
Any favorite stylists or product lines that you once used before creating your own?
Often finding myself mixing products from different lines was 1 of the reasons that I decided to create my own product line with all of my favorite ingredients in 1 bottle. I love Felicia Leatherwood’s work as a stylist.
For our entrepreneurs out there, do you have any words of advice or encouragement?
Money, industry knowledge and a vision are the main resources. Be passionate about your business and be willing to go the extra mile for your business. Having your own business is so different from working for someone else. You have to be self-disciplined, be able to set your own boundaries and have the ability to forecast what your business needs for growth. As an entrepreneur loving what you do is an important part of the dedication to your business, because you are going to work harder, to wear many hats and be required to make sacrifices.
Where can our readers get in contact with you and learn more about and purchase Alikay Naturals products?