How To Be… A Natural Hair Researcher: Blair Cadet

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Blair Cadet is the founder of Natural Hair Capital a soon-to-be-launched professional social network that aims to connect natural hair entrepreneurs and ultimately be a catalyst in the Black Hair industry by investing in small businesses.

Stats

Name: A. Blair Cadet

Age: 26

Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Profession: Entrepreneur & Natural Hair Researcher

Work

Tell us about Natural Hair Capital (NHC).

Natural Hair Capital is a “mother brand” under which we have a professional network, like a LinkedIn, called Natural Hair Capital Network [which will be launched later this year], and a media and publishing company to report and publish news and research. People have no idea how big the Natural Hair Global Community is and most importantly, how many talented people are out there–from academics, artists, bloggers, businesswomen, to community organizers!

The point of the network is to connect these women and have them contribute to the platform by sharing their talents, skills and network. Once the network is built, it will include an e-commerce platform. This will be the most exciting part because there is not one platform for Naturals around the world to buy or distribute Natural Hair products. Ultimately, everyone wants products and small Natural Hair businesses want to expand their customer base, so given the NHC Network and our research, we can help connect small businesses to Naturals around the world, and enable Naturals to shop for local and international Natural Hair products.

The Natural Hair fund will be money used from our profits to invest in small Natural Hair businesses. I learned as an entrepreneur that finding investors in your industry is important, but given how niche and new the Natural Hair Global Market is, many people don’t understand it. So, once we are in a position to, we’ll invest money in other aspiring Natural Hair entrepreneurs. We want to be there to guide, mentor, and advise them to succeed. We understand their struggle and given how important hair is to Black women, they don’t have to give us a history lesson to explain why their venture is important or how it will succeed. We already know!

How did you get started?  

I started this project after being part of a summer research team back in summer 2010. During that summer I learned how to collect and analyse data, so as a Natural of two years at that time, and overwhelmed with finding information online, I started to build my own databases and docs of everything Natural Hair online. What started as a simple database, grew into a passionate side hobby, were I started selling products to Naturals on my campus, and advising people what websites and social media pages to visit for their specific hair needs. Nearly four years later, I knew my research and data obsession could be created into a small business, I just did not know how. My family was concern with this direction that I was going in, but I knew I was the only person to fulfill this vision I had for the Natural Hair Global Community. So I packed my bags and moved to the second best entrepreneur community in the world–Israel. In Israel, I learned how to structure my business, expand my skills, and fundraise. My time there was absolutely life-changing, given the amount of support and networking opportunities that I made there. So, I decided with my data why not create a professional network so women in this global community can connect, and further down the line, sell and buy products to each other! Natural Hair Capital is a project that will take time to build and so far all the Naturals and Natural Hair businesses I have reached out to, believe in what I am building. And, I know I am the right person to do it!

What’s different about this Natural Hair Movement is the economics. More Black women have become entrepreneurs, have created jobs, and there is a shift in the flow of money remaining more in Black communities.

What are some interesting bits of information you’ve uncovered about Black hair throughout your research?

What I discovered is that the Natural Hair Movement is not exactly new. The Civil Rights movement, black power, Black is beautiful–all these movements were political or sociological. What is new and different about the Natural Hair Movement is the economics. More Black women have become entrepreneurs, have created jobs, and there is a shift with the flow of money remaining more in Black communities. I’ve talked to academics who have written about the Natural Hair movement, and many agree, this is not just political, it’s economical, which is very empowering when you think about our communities being so dependent on other people to employ us.

Another insight: the Natural Hair movement is global. There are Natural Hair communities in every continent (with the exception of Antarctica) and in over 100 cities and villages around the world. So when I reach out or discover new Naturals, I am excited and ask for as much data as possible. NHC ultimately wants to preserve and record this global movement, so 50 or 100 years from now we can have detailed and accurate information when we look back at this (her)storic movement.

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Lastly, I say (her)storic, because it’s mostly women, about 97% women that are returning to their Natural Hair. I see this as our “Enlightenment” and unfortunately, people don’t like how this community has become somewhat of a global lobbyist group. What I mean is when politically charged [hair incidents happen], like Naturals being expelled from school or discriminated against at work, we now have this community to “make noise” and hold people accountable. The best example is when the army enforced the discriminatory regulations about the hairstyles of Black female soldiers. It was the Natural Hair Community that started the conversation and ultimately got the army to revoke/reform this new rule. That is powerful!

We now have this community to “make noise” and hold people accountable,

Ups and downs you sometimes face on the job:

Sometimes I have no idea what I am doing or question if what I want to achieve for the network is possible. I am not a programmer, but that is why it’s important for me to have a community of support and build my skills. I am currently taking online classes to learn how to be a Data Scientist, in other words collect, analyse, and share my information better.

What is one thing an aspiring researcher can do today to get started?

Learn programming languages that Data Scientist use to collect data. Many Naturals I see have attempted to create directories, but there is too much information out there to use an excel sheet. There are sophisticated tools and programs for collecting information.

Hair

What are your top 5 go-to hair tips?

Well, I have locs, so my routine and products are different. But in general:

  1. Drink a lot of water, and spray your hair with water
  2. Be patient
  3. Find a supportive group, community, website, blog, or vlog
  4. Don’t compare your hair to anyone else’s. Your hair is unique. Instagram, Pinterest, and top bloggers should be an inspiration, but appreciate and love you hair.
  5. Be nice to your hair: give your hair a break with protective styles, don’t pull, tug, or twist it too much!

Fun Fact:  In Israel I met Nikki Walton and her husband, of Curly Nikki. I learned they were in Israel and I tweeted her thinking she would not respond, but she did! I was excited and we met up in Tel Aviv with other Ethiopian Jews I was mentoring to build a Facebook group. It was kind of unreal because I am so used to seeing people behind my computer screen.

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