Welcome to Byrdie's new series, The Hustle. We're profiling BIPOC women and woman-aligned folks in the beauty and wellness industries who are usually behind-the-scenes. From the cosmetic chemists formulating your holy-grail serum to CFOs driving the biggest beauty companies forward, these women are the definition of career goals, and they're getting real about the journeys that led them to where they are—the highs, the lows, and everything in between.
Over the years, Jamila Powell has worn many hats, from mother to attorney to entrepreneur, and all this experience ultimately led her to the world of natural hair products. As more Black women choose to go natural, demand continues to grow for new haircare options. Powell's answer to this is Naturally Drenched, a vegan, eco-conscious brand that focuses on curly and coily textures.
When she worked at the acclaimed texture salon Maggie Rose, Powell would formulate different ingredients that worked best on varying hair types. When she founded Naturally Drenched, she wanted to bring the nuance of Black culture into the beauty space and expand it with products focused on hair health, not fleeting trends. The brand's philosophy is visible it's ornate packaging, tools, accessories, and branding.
Naturally Drenched's vegan hair products include aloe vera, coconut, sweet almond, apple, papaya, and sunflower. Powell also offers curl kits with must-have items like microfiber towels, scalp massagers, and a travel bottle for carrying your products anywhere.
Naturally Drenched is a welcomed addition to the world of natural haircare, offering a conscious, forward-thinking option to all those embracing their curls. Ahead, get to know more about Powell's background, brand journey, and "curlclusive" mission to create products for customers of any texture.
Tell us about your background.
I was born in Columbus, Ohio, and moved with my parents to Ellicott City, Maryland, when I was four-years-old. I am the youngest of three girls, completed my undergraduate studies at The Pennsylvania State University, and got my Juris Doctorate at George Washington University.
What inspired the decision to go from salon owner to create your own line of products?
I noticed most Black-owned salons and stylists are not highlighted in the salon industry, even though many hairstyles are created and inspired by us. There are few options regarding Black-owned salon-quality brands, and most brands are not interested in supporting us. As a salon owner, I noticed a huge void in the hair market for a line of products formulated in a salon setting that truly works. I also wanted to create products that address all hair types, especially textured hair.
How did your previous experience as a lawyer help with building your brand?
Being a lawyer has helped greatly, especially with my commitment to seeing Naturally Drenched through. I have a love for research, which helps me figure out a lot of aspects of the business. Not to mention, it allows me to step out of my box and challenge myself in unfamiliar areas. I have been able to do my trademarks and read my contracts, but I still like to check with other lawyers who practice contract law.
What do your day-to-day responsibilities look like as the CEO and creator of a haircare brand?
Hectic! I’m up early because some of my retailers and team are not in the United States. That means the day has begun before I wake up, and I’m playing catch up, reading and responding to emails. Then, I’m in mommy mode, which entails getting my daughter out the door and dropping her off at school. I still work as a full-time lawyer, so during the day, I have my lawyer hat on. After work, and before I pick up my daughter, I’m touching base with my salon manager and trying to complete as many tasks as possible. Once I pick up my daughter, I’m back on mommy duty, and once I put her to bed, I’m back on my Naturally Drenched grind.
Why was creating vegan and eco-conscious products important for you?
I couldn’t imagine adding another bottle of plastic to my bathroom collection, and I knew I was responsible for researching and finding the best possible packaging. I decided to go with aluminum because it’s recyclable and can be sterilized and refilled. Vegan and cruelty-free products were the only options for me. I did a lot of research on ingredients, which included working with a cosmetic chemist who understands quality non-toxic ingredients are a priority to me.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging aspect is to take care of myself and be the best mom possible while making time to do everything and complete as many tasks as possible. This year, I added critical people to my team, which has given me some wiggle room when I allow myself to have it.
What is a product you are most proud of and why?
This is a hard one because I love all my products, but I'm most proud of Rebalance ($38). It's a dynamic product that is awesome for all hair types, and it focuses on the hair's health and should be part of every wash day.
What inspired the ingredients you use in your products?
Tons of research. It takes hours to research available ingredients and read clinical studies.
How has your experience been creating a brand in a widely saturated market?
I've enjoyed it, and timing and patience are everything. I've learned a lot of hard lessons, but I'm still here. I also have had many people support me and my vision, which I am very grateful for. I'm unsure if there is an actual formula for success, so I try my best, work hard, and hope everyone loves Naturally Drenched as much as I do.
Did you have mentors or peers who helped you along your entrepreneurial journey?
I could not make it without my support system. My daughter has been on this entrepreneurial journey with me since she was one, and she always reminds me of my wins when I’m hard on myself. My mom and boyfriend listen to me talk about Naturally Drenched all day and provide sound advice. I have a crew of friends who are entrepreneurs, and they keep me sane and inspired. I’m also thankful to be supported by the salon team, who test and try out my products.
What motivates you when you are feeling stressed?
Knowing that I can figure the situation out, it’s one moment in time, and it will pass.
What is a memorable moment from your career that you are proud of?
The most memorable moment is visiting New York with my mom and daughter and seeing my product on store shelves.