I hesitated to write this article, but I want to set the record straight about several things within the natural hair community.
Please note that several of the things that I discuss here are not popular things to say in public – meaning they are not politically correct. Honestly, many of the things discussed in this article, I won’t discuss in complete detail because it’s not about creating controversy.
All I ask is that you don’t share this information with anyone. Wink! Wink!
Also, it’s important to note that you may disagree with some of the things discussed in this article and that is perfectly fine. Remember, these are my confessions. You’re more than welcome to disagree and have your own opinion. These are my opinions.
Actually, I like to use different phraseology. These are my confessions and afterwards I promise progression. This article will serve as my journal (or diary) of events. Once this article has been published, I will move on to other things.
The Path to Becoming a Natural Hair “Guru”
First, let’s talk a little bit about who I am for those who don’t know me. I’m Kenneth Byrd, one of the founders of naturalhaircommunity.com. I’ve been writing offline and online, in a freelance capacity for many years, but only recently started blogging consistently.
My previous writing experience was mostly obtained while working for a local newspaper, where I wrote product reviews. I also have some experience writing online for various websites using my real name at times, but mostly pen names. Believe it or not, my most often used pen names are Shirley and Sally, but I’m not providing other details just in case folks start searching on Google.
I’m married to a woman named Jael (which is a pen name), who has been an advocate of natural hair long before I got involved in blogging about natural hair. I remember, several years ago, Jael would stay up really late at night researching various natural hair topics.
This was many years ago, and I’m not good with dates, so less just stick with many years ago. I didn’t know at the time that she was building the base for a future business that would help support our family.
I knew very little about natural hair at the time. Actually, I still wouldn’t consider myself a natural hair guru (even though most gurus are phonies). Just to make sure I’m clear, I consume quite a bit of natural hair information each week because there is so much to research and learn. It takes consistent effort and it’s important to continuously learn about my niche. Within the last few years, I’ve been diving into the science behind black hair care and the amount of information to consume can be mind-boggling – but I really enjoy it.
Before I dive into some of my thoughts about the natural hair community, remember that this article and the content herein remain our little secret.
Confessions of a Male Natural Hair Blogger
There is a big difference in running a business and managing a blog. Unfortunately, many people don’t know the difference. I studied business for several years in college. I was a double major undergrad, majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems.
I then went out in the “real world” and got a job, worked for a few years, then went back to college and successfully obtained a Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree from a well known University in Alabama.
I’m not telling you this because I think it’s some grand accomplishment, but because I want to make a legitimate point. I have studied multiple business models and analyzed what makes businesses successful and what makes them fail.
That said, it surprises me that there is very little unity in the natural hair community and I’m not talking about having meetups. Okay, maybe just a little, but among the bloggers and “real” businesses it’s so competitive. It’s disappointing that more natural hair businesses don’t work together.
Why do things have to be so adversarial?
Surely you’ve heard the saying “together we stand, divided we fall”. While it may sound like an overly used cliche, look at the Fortune 500 and tell me how many of those companies haven’t used some sort of acquisition and merger strategy as a part of their growth plan. For those who don’t know, the Fortune 500 contains the 500 U.S. corporations ranked by gross revenue. Said differently, this is an annual list of the 500 most profitable US corporations.
It’s weird that so many people say they’re in business to make money, but simply avoid many of the most profitable money making tactics readily available to them. Building relationships with other businesses and working together as a community would really be beneficial for the growth of many small natural hair related businesses (or any African American businesses). Economies of scale are almost a given, but there are many other benefits also.
I don’t intend to turn this into a macroeconomics article, so I’ll just say I’m baffled by the lack of true partnerships within natural hair community. Now, before anyone gets their feelings hurt, this really isn’t meant to be a shot at anyone in particular. It’s just that I see so many opportunities to improve the relative value of the services offered by natural hair related businesses and would like to extend my hand openly. Jael and I are always interested in business partners, with mutual benefit, that collectively add value back to the natural hair community. So, if you have an idea or want to chat about an opportunity – don’t hesitate to contact me directly.
Two Bloggers Beefing Means – One’s Popular, One Isn’t
Have you ever noticed that usually when two bloggers are “beefing” that one of them is relatively popular and the other isn’t popular at all? Obviously, this isn’t always the case, but I have noticed this on several occasions.
Natural Hair Community isn’t about creating controversy, so I won’t provide case studies with names, but if you do a little research you can find some examples. It’s interesting, because this is actually a “marketing technique” that many people in various niche markets have used for years to make a name for themselves. I will explain how it works.
Just think about it – if you call out the biggest name on the street and get a response, then all of a sudden everyone knows who you are too.
Are the women starting these beefs implementing well-crafted marketing plans or simply being messy? Who really knows?
Bottom-line is if you hear somebody dropping names, they likely have a small unsuccessful blog (or product) or they’re starting one relatively soon. Or, they might be one of the bloggers that specialize in controversy. That’s right – there are several bloggers who focus primarily on controversial topics because it drives more traffic and views to their website or product offerings.
We were targeted by a controversial blogger at one point regarding an article that we posted. There were other bloggers writing about our website and offering their opinion on the article. Many naturals were offering comments without reading the article at all. How ridiculous does that sound?
I had one popular blogger, which I completely lost respect for, blast me for supposedly “writing the article”. She made a YouTube video (soliloquy) about the article and wrote a fairly long piece about the article for her blog readers. The funny thing is that I didn’t even write the article.
I made it clear to her that I didn’t write the article and that the article was written by a guest blogger. Honestly, I don’t think she really cared. Her goal was simply to get a few more visitors to her blog, which specializes in controversy.
Call it naivety, if you must, but I didn’t expect that type of rude welcoming into the world of the natural hair blogging. I felt bad, not because of the immature blogger who started the controversy, but because I felt like I played a role in generating this controversy – and that’s really not my style. Plus, Jael was sitting on the side of the bed pissed about how the situation turned out. She literally woke me up at 2am in the morning after seeing the aforementioned YouTube video.
I found the article that the guest blogger wrote very interesting and was being attacked for posting it on my website.
To be clear, I don’t expect people to agree with everything that we post on the website. I do expect people to be tactful and respectful when they disagree, because that’s what I expect from adults. Respectfully disagree, but control your feelings. So, this blogger was likely the first time that I encountered a Natural Hair Nazi.
So, these are some of my confessions. There might have been some things that surprised you. At any rate, that’s the truth (or, my opinion) from deep inside the natural hair community. I hope you enjoyed the article.