In the entertainment industry, I wore my hair relaxed or put it in weaves and wigs because that was what was expected of me. To wear my hair in a way that was deemed beautiful and not to wear it the way that it naturally is, the way I was born and the way that God made me.
As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Founder/CEO of OrganiGrow, Kay Cola, a Jill of all trades. In addition to running 3 companies, Kay is a mother of 3, author, Grammy nominated songwriter and recording artist and self-proclaimed health nut. After a terrible haircut and years of tough hair care that left her hair in bad condition, Kay decided she wanted her natural, curly hair back. Many years of research and experimentation with all-natural ingredient, Kay developed a formula that gave her curls that exceeded all expectations! The positive reaction and overwhelming inquiries for her secret inspired her to turn her development into a business. 4 years later, the vegan and organic collection has expanded from haircare to include skincare, vitamins and supplements.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit of your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I grew up with a black father who knew nothing about hair care, and a mixed but predominantly white mother who wore her hair straight and wasn’t educated on my hair type. Because of this, I started wearing my hair straight at the age of 8 years old because it was easier and also what I knew. Looking back, I deeply regret relaxing my hair and wish I had had more figures in my life to encourage me to wear it natural. Also, at the time black hair care was very limited when it came to what you could buy in stores and little did I know at the time, it was also very toxic. My mom bought products like Aveda and Paul Mitchell, which were unfortunately not for my hair, dried my hair out and did more harm than good.
Can you tell us a story about what inspired you to become a natural hair advocate?
It was in 2016, while I was on tour, when I first started thinking about haircare. As many women in entertainment do, I was putting my hair through harsh treatments, heat styling and using products heavy in sulfates that left my hair dry, brittle, flat and with uneven textures. On one notable return from the tour, my daughter (then 5) asked if she could straighten her hair so she could look like the other girls at school. I was heartbroken that she felt that way and realized that in constantly manipulating my own hair and look, I was sending my daughter the wrong message about beauty. At that moment OrganiGrowHairCo was born. Without any financial backing, I invested every penny into the company, producing a line of all natural, organic hair care products for everyone from 1a straight hair to 4c coily curls. I was determined to be a good role model for my daughter and give her and girls like her the products, education and encouragement that I never had.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
The most interesting thing that has happened to me is that my entire life has changed when I started OrganiGrowHairCo. Starting the company allowed me to not only financially provide for my entire family, and friends but I have been able to give back and offer opportunities to others who would have not otherwise had them. Even crazier, is that now when I am out and about, I will have random people coming up to me at Whole Foods telling me how their girlfriends or wives love my products. It always astonishes me how many OrganiGrowers there are in the world and how many people lives I have really been able to change and help!
As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
My advice to others is to not do it for the money. Let God, the universe, whatever you believe in guide you and keep your intentions pure and you will be blessed. Resilience, authenticity and 1000% dedication are key.
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
Positive affirmations in the mirror are key. The mind believes what you tell it.
Working out makes me feel beautiful. There is something about the endorphins and the workouts that are a confidence booster.
Stop caring about what others say. There is someone for everyone and there is always someone who is going to judge you or think you are ugly. Who cares. Security and confidence are most attractive.
Can you share with our readers some of your techniques to style natural hair?
For that, I would love to refer to our youtube channel OrganiGrowHairCo where we offer so many tutorials, information and more on natural hair.
Can you share some of your techniques about how to best maintain natural hair?
The best way to maintain natural hair is to treat it like a plant. Hydrate it, give it some sun, treat it with tenderness and love and keep your products organic, NO GMO.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can help articulate to our readers your “Five Things You Need To Understand About Hair Discrimination”. If you can please share a story or example, for each.
Hair discrimination shows up everywhere and bleeds into every facet of your life. Some examples below.
- It is a simple as this: After someone straightens their hair or relaxes their hair saying, “Your hair looks better like that” or “I like your hair better straight”. Basically, affirming that you like someone’s hair better when it is not natural to the way they were born.
- Not hiring someone because of how their hair grows naturally out of their head. We see this all the time, women especially getting not hired if their 4C hair is natural or even getting asked by HR to wear their hair “tamer”.
- Calling someone “ghetto” because they wear braids or have a natural curl fro.
- Wearing your hair natural has only recently been seen as a strong and powerful choice, up until now wearing your hair natural was seen as a sign that you were poor and, in the Black community, relaxing your hair was a sign of status
- In the entertainment industry, I wore my hair relaxed or put it in weaves and wigs because that was what was expected of me. To wear my hair in a way that was deemed beautiful and not to wear it the way that it naturally is, the way I was born and the way that God made me.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is one that I created and one that I use daily for myself and others and it is “I love you I hope you heal” It is relevant because we all need healing and love and need to be more gentle with ourselves and one another.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
I would love to sit with Elon Musk. I love that he is such a visionary and thinks outside the normal box. I am also a Tesla stockholder 😉
How can our readers follow you online?
Our readers can find us at @organigrowhairco on instagram and me @kaycola
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.