She is self-affirmed, walking to nobody’s tune but her own. She rejects conformity and seeks only her own truth. She is ungovernable, and just the kind of woman we love. In the latest in our series profiling women whose paths and minds we admire, we speak to Ms. Taryn Gill, Founder of the Perfect Hair Company, the beauty & grooming brand giving love to women of colour’s natural curls and coils.
From humble beginnings, fighting against a tide of harmful products designed to tame – rather than nurture and celebrate – black women’s hair, the former magazine publisher’s natural hair products have built up a cult following around the country, with wholesale scale. On the eve of the launch of her men’s beard and shaving range, we spoke to her about her singular journey in business and womanhood.
When did you realise you were a girl, and what that meant in this world?
I was never told by my parents that I could not do something because of my gender. And that is how I choose to raise my daughter.
What, to you, is an Ungovernable woman?
The many shades, shapes, sizes and splendor of women the world over who feel the fear, the prejudice, and the glass ceilings – yet push through anyway to do what they love.
When did you fall in love with yourself and why?
I began to feel my own power during my university years, it was 1993 and everything was shifting, anything was possible. My mind blown wide open and I found my voice.
When was the last time you felt vulnerable and why?
I feel vulnerable all the time! As a mother letting her children go out into the world, as a business woman subjected to tough economic times and a rough retail landscape. And as a woman. It (the solution) is in choosing not to be governed by that vulnerability.
“I feel vulnerable all the time! As a mother letting her children go out into the world, as a business woman subjected to tough economic times and a rough retail landscape. And as a woman. It (the solution) is in choosing not to be governed by that vulnerability.”
If there was only one gift The Perfect Hair has given you, what would it be?
Self-belief. The business tests me every day, it’s exhilarating and exhausting at once, but the fact that I push myself to get up after each hurdle, gives me a sense of belief in my own resilience. When you are an entrepreneur self-motivation is KEY.
Beyond the obvious, what to you is the meaning of making?
There is a beauty and fulfillment in craft, in the making of something that is functional, beautiful, purposeful.
How important is the crafting or making process to your various products?
I made sure that everything we crafted went through rigorous laboratory testing for efficacy to ensure that our products do what we say they will do. But we never let go of the personalised crafting of each product designed with different natural ingredients to cater to different textures. My signature lies on each product, testimony to the personal care that went into each cream.
How has your business model or strategy shifted over the years, and is there a lesson in that?
The model and the 7-point plan shift all the time, it is the beauty of being small yet nimble. The Perfect Hair is constantly moving closer to the consumer, from online to mainstream retail, from glass to shower-friendly kid-friendly tubes, from women to men’s grooming, from a local to an international growth strategy.
You are about to launch a men’s shaving and beard range, beyond the nagging from people like me, what was your motivation for entering the men’s market?
Led by demand (and you) we knew that our Ambassadors’ partners where using some of our products, and after returning from the USA where male grooming is exploding right now, we decided to jump in and see what we could do to show some love to the men in our lives. Close shaving, beard styling, grooming overall is in line with the global trend of black women transitioning to natural hair, showing that self-love for their hair and skin in all its ebony glory.
In what way – if any – is selling to men a different proposition to what you have done all along?
If there is a difference, I am about to find out.
What do you wish men understood more or better, about woman entrepreneurs?
That the hustle is real when most of us are juggling the many roles of caregiver, wife, mother, organizer, Uber driver, shoulder-to-cry-on while trying to build a business. That’s the masterclass in multi-tasking. You’re welcome.
The Perfect Hair Company will be providing complimentary men’s grooming treatments and launching its men’s beard and shaving range at the noted.man lounge area of Maison Bisquit cocktail bar, at Sanlam HmC this weekend, October 12 – 14. Tickets at webtickets.