By Natalie Prioleau
Afro-centric and natural hairstyles, natural hair care and skin care have become mainstream and Charleston is definitely a part of the movement. With a niche market of natural product carriers and distributors such as Cora’s Healing Rose, Natural Image Salon and Day Spa and Salon Indigo, the Lowcountry is becoming a popular place to maintain a natural hair and skin care regimen. With so many options, including mainstream products that are often less expensive, it can be overwhelming for women to commit to going and staying natural. It can also be a financial hassle to purchase these exotic products that claim to do wonders. Many women question whether or not natural hair and skin care products are really better for them and how they can afford these products. Andrea Davis, wife, mother and entrepreneur also asked these questions before she went natural. Her questions led her to start her own natural skin care and hair care line, Motherland Essentials, all inspired by the continent of Africa.
Davis, a 27-year-old native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, moved to Charleston just two years ago. She attributes the move as one of the key motivators for starting her business. Davis explains, “Moving to Charleston was really instrumental in my growth and discovering my potential. There is so much culture and history here. Growing up in Bowling Green, I was not exposed too much culture, but I always had an interest in reading. I read many books about science, different cultures and art. I was different from many of the people who grew up with me.” Although she was different, Davis used her individuality to her advantage. She recognized and acted on opportunities to provide services and make money even before she graduated from high school. She would offer to tutor students in reading for a fee; and in high school, she would sell candy in between classes. She shares, “I always wanted to be my own boss in a sense.”
Davis’ opportunity to be her own boss did not present itself as she would have expected. She had attended college and majored in Journalism but instead of pursuing a career as a publicist as she had intended, she began working at a bank to help support her growing family. During her third year at the bank, she began to experience hardships. Her husband was transitioning jobs and soon after giving birth to their son, the baby died. Devastated, Davis had to return to work with little time to grieve and constant reminders of her family’s loss. Davis remembers, “When I came back [to the bank] the staff had gotten me balloons, which was thoughtful, but customers would notice them. They would ask, “Is it your birthday?” I would explain what happened repeatedly. I would listen to couples talk about their new babies repeatedly. I couldn’t do it anymore.” Davis left her job. Her family, due to her husband’s position in the Marine Corps, was stationed in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Beaufort is where Davis made the decision to “go natural.” She explains, “I did my big chop because I was convinced by a really great friend I met in the military that a relaxer or straight hair was not the benchmark of my beauty. I am much deeper than that and so are many other black women. In connecting with my natural hair, I am outwardly expressing that my ancestors, who came from Africa, are a beautiful and proud people.” She not only began to grow passionate about her natural hair but she was also passionate about the products she was using as well. She wanted to use natural products for herself and for her family but they were very expensive. She thought, as a wife and mother, she should not have to spend tons of money to provide the healthiest body care options for her family. After years of research and developing her own products, Davis had birthed, “Motherland Essentials.”
Motherland Essentials boasts handcrafted, multicolored soaps, whipped hair and body butter, body masks, bath bombs and facial scrubs that are teeming with ingredients such as mint, lavender, shea butter, castor oil, cocoa butter and coconut oil. Each soap bar, its color scheme and the benefits of its ingredients are explained in great depth at www.motherlandessentials.com. These ingredients, however, are found in many hair care and skin care products in stores, so what makes Motherland Essentials a unique brand?
Motherland Essentials is a brand that is inspired by the Mother Land of Africa and created by a mother. She painstakingly researches her ingredients, buys them in bulk to save her customers money and then handcrafts each product from her home. “I take hours to handcraft, and I use my products on myself. I wouldn’t sell any product to anyone that I wouldn’t use on myself,” she emphasizes. Davis is not only passionate about her products but her customers as well. She is determined to educate them about what they are putting on their skin; and she is determined to make her products accessible and affordable by selling them online at reasonable prices.
Demonstrating her commitment to educating her public, Davis actively blogs to answer questions for people who want to know more about the natural journey and holds workshops all over South Carolina. Davis recently taught a soap making class for the summer camp in Beaufort titled E=MC2.
She will also be hosting workshops in Charleston on July 13, August 12 and August 17. Locations and times are listed on Davis’s website and Facebook page. Davis has a solid online presence, but she does not plan to stop there. Within the next year, she will expand her products to be sold and stores; and she intends to educate people about health and nutrition as well. Davis explains, “I want people to know that natural is beautiful and attainable and they need to be comfortable with wherever they are in life.’’