Since we launched Un-ruly, we’ve been tracking the huge change that’s been happening in the Black hair industry, which has primarily been triggered by the natural hair movement and fueled by new forms of communication i.e. social media. Consumers now have the power to really tell brands what they need and think, and brands have to be able to respond or get left behind. We’ve partnered with Smooth ‘N Shine to launch our latest and greatest project, #Hairties, a message from this generation to the next, that’s setting out to shape beauty standards for the next generation. In collaborating with Smooth ‘N Shine, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Sina Hilbert, its brand manager, and I found it important to share her story for a couple of reasons: (1) her hair journey is one that many people might relate to; and (2) she’s approaching the evolution of Smooth ‘N Shine in a very genuine way, knowing the nuances of the brand’s target market, which is likely because she is part of that target. Here she shares a little bit about her journey and what’s in store for Smooth ‘N Shine.
Tell us about your hair journey.
As a pretty active child, I wore my hair primarily in twists or braids. As I grew into my teen years, I transitioned over to a relaxer where a wrap set was my ‘go-to’ style for several years. It wasn’t until I graduated from business school that I decided to big chop and go completely natural. I haven’t looked back ever since!
Describe your hair in 5 words or less.
Buoyant, Independent, Righteous, Resolute, Distinctive
How did you wear your hair when you were younger?
As most other African-American girls, I wore my hair in twists or braids when I was younger. Every Sunday afternoon I would sit in between my mother’s lap with a tin container of barrettes and bows and she would give me various designs of braids or twists, finishing it off with barrettes that matched the color of my upcoming school outfits. As I grew into my teenage years, I convinced my mother that I needed a relaxer and she reluctantly obliged. For several years I continued to perm my hair, wearing a wrap style, until I chopped it all off during a Skype conversation with my best friend the week after I graduated from graduate school.
How did you become a brand manager for Smooth ‘N Shine? Or what drew you to the brand?
Actually, one of my good friends who worked at the company was telling me about the role and thought it would be a perfect fit for me. Against my knowledge, he gave my resume to the Director and I guess you can say the rest is history. There was definitely a personal connection to the brand prior to me joining the Marketing team. Smooth ‘N Shine was a brand I was familiar with from my childhood and one that I saw a lot of potential in for growth. Smooth ‘N Shine has always been a brand that has understood its target consumer well, but needed help streamlining that message to today’s multicultural woman. Given my past Marketing experience in product innovation and developing brand communication strategies, it was the perfect marriage.
What’s great about Smooth ‘N Shine?
Smooth ‘N Shine is a brand that offers a range of products at an affordable price for multicultural women across the hair texture spectrum. We develop each of our products with our consumer in mind. We understand her hair challenges and work every day to find innovative product solutions for all of her hair needs.
Smooth ‘N Shine is 25 years old and has evolved quite a bit since it first launched in 1992. Can you talk a bit about some of the brand’s major evolutions and what prompted them?
One reason Smooth ‘N Shine has such a long standing in the market is because we’re committed to understanding our consumers and evolving with their needs. Throughout our 25 year history, we’ve expanded our portfolio to solve the hair challenges of our consumers. This is our heritage and quite frankly our promise to our consumers; to always be a brand that represents their specific hair needs.
What are your thoughts on the natural hair movement and its impact across the category?
I absolutely love it! From a cultural perspective, the underpinnings of this natural hair movement began as many African-American women began to understand the damage associated with applying chemical relaxers while also coming to an epiphany about ‘traditional’ beauty standards. As African-American women let their natural hair grow out, their confidence in themselves also grew –this sentiment continues to fuel the movement today. From a business perspective, it challenges brands, including Smooth ‘N Shine to evolve or perish. I’ve challenged my team to shift the way we think about traditional standards of beauty and how we communicate them to our audience.As African-American women let their natural hair grow out, their confidence in themselves also grew Click To Tweet
It seems like now more than ever brands have to and have the ability to take their cues from their customers. But are there other things you guys look at or do to meet or exceed your consumers’ needs?
Yes, at the core of every great brand there is an underlining insight from our consumers. Successful brands always put the needs and desires of their consumers at the center of all of their products. Here on the Smooth ‘N Shine brand, we take the next step and challenge ourselves to think outside the paradigm and identify problems before they arise in the market and begin to develop innovative solutions for said problems.
What does the future look like for Smooth ‘N Shine?
Smooth ‘N Shine is changing in a big way in 2018. We are committed to meeting the ever-changing needs of our consumers and are on the cusp of a major brand relaunch. We will expand our product offerings and introduce a line of products for women who want to style their natural hair texture, we will improve the formulas for all of our existing products –adding in two moisturizing oils to every item and we will update our packaging to a more modern and refined look.
What would you say the future looks like for the hair industry?
The future is bright for the hair industry, particularly in the multicultural hair category. As more multicultural women embrace their natural hair textures and put a stake in the ground in defining their own beauty standard, it will drive hair brands to meet these women where they are. It will push brands to understand those needs and curate products specifically for their hair. The hair industry is in the middle of a major shift that is centered on consumers driving what they want to see in their future hair care and styling products. Smooth ‘N Shine is ready to take this journey with our consumers.