In this edition of Baby Heir Speaks, we're chatting with Niani B. - Detroit Hair Stylist and Founder of both Beaute Anthologie and A Safe Space for Black Girls that Never Learned How to Braid™️. Niani gives us all the details on baby hair health, including ingredients and best practices for growing edges. She also reveals her entrepreneurial journey and shows us how she uses the Edge Styler® in Powder Blue to lay her 4C edges.
Please tell us more about, “A Safe Space for Black Girls that Never Learned How to Braid! We'd love to know what inspired you to create such an amazing community!
A Safe Space... is a class I started during "lockdown" as a way to continue doing what I love - hair - and also [a way to] help black women at home who felt lost since salons were forced to close. Pre-pandemic, I planned on teaching a mommy/daughter braiding class for moms to learn the basics in natural hair care. As a hair stylist that does not service children, I have always believed braiding and natural hair care is a skill all parents should have access to learning.
Tell us a little more about your entrepreneurial journey starting Beaute Anthologie! What barriers did you have to overcome and how did you do so?
Its been a long and rough journey but haircare is something I have always been passionate about. It was/is very hard getting the word out about my products, services and offerings, especially competing with larger corporations. Stepping outside my comfort zone and reaching out to brands and building relationships has been key in growing in this industry.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs just starting out in the hair space or anything they should look out for when just starting?
Finding a friend in hair care has truly been helpful. I was blessed to find a mentor that truly wanted to see me soar. She helped me and also inspired me to make connections with others in the haircare industry while also growing my business.
When curating products for your shop, what are the things you look for in a brand you'd want to partner with?
I always start with products I use and love as a stylist in the industry. I also look at how clean the key clean ingredients are, their relationship with their community, and finally brand aesthetics.
How were you able to use social media to build your brand and promote your course?
Facebook is where we started, that platform hosts our private facebook group where I originally taught classes. I posted a social media flyer about my class, a client took it to her twitter account and it was shared by thousands. Eventually, it was being picked up by every major digital media outlet. Facebook still serves as our private community where we host Q&As and students share their progress.
What's the most popular question about natural hair, braiding, styling, etc, that you receive from your audience?
How can they keep [their] hair hydrated.
Do you have a mentor and/or a support system that has helped you build your business from the ground up?
Yes, I am very fortunate to have a mentor and also clients that have been very successful in the beauty industry. They would always lend an ear, a helping hand, and advice when it came to my business.
Are there any products or ingredients you recommend to people who are looking to grow back their edges?
Our Real Jamaican Black Castor Oil is great for restoring and maintaining edges and almost all oils in the market of restoring edges include that key ingredient.
If a client of yours has thinning edges, would they still be able to get a protective style?
Yes, depending on the particular situation. A protective style without added hair may be recommended and we will always strategically leave out edges in protective styles, especially if they are damaged and styling might compromise their health.
What are some products that may be bad for your edges (i.e. gel, wearing lacefronts, etc)
- Hair glue
- Drying alcohols.
- You also want to make sure you are listening to your hair and giving it a break between protective styles.
How do you like to style your own edges? Is that different than the styles your clients' ask for on their hairlines?
I switch it up when it comes to styling my edges. As a type 4 girl, it's an entire process when it comes to "laying" my edges, so it's not something I do every day. I also like to give my edges a break. Real Jamaican Castor Oil is a part of my daily routine. I always apply a few drops and give a light massage, this same routine is included in my clients steam treatments.There are a few edge controls all which are available on our website that I use when I am up for styling my edges with my Baby Tress brush, and I always use a satin scarf to tie my edges down and let it stay until they are set and dry. This allows me to wear my styled edges, and have them actually last throughout the day. I let my clients decide how they want their edges styled and, like me, some days they want baby hair art and some days they keep it simple.
What are your favorite types of products to use when styling a clients' edges (pomade, gel, cream, etc). Do these products differ depending on the hair type?
I typically choose based on hair type for my clients and I always choose from my selection of edge controls. For some hair types, especially 2 & 4-type clients, depending on their request we may use a styling foam.
How can someone tell if their edges are healthy or thinning? Is there anything specific they should look out for?
Be aware of your natural hairline, if they notice any changes in their edges they should be alert and take action. If there is any tenderness and hair loss without agitation it always a good idea to get advice from a dermatologist that specializes in hair loss.
Are there any protective styles you recommend to clients who have difficulty growing their hair?
Not necessarily. Any low manipulation style is good for helping to retain length. Most of the time if the client doesn't have bald spots the hair is growing it's more about giving the ends extra attention. Our ends are the oldest parts of our hair and more fragile. If we put our focus there and on keeping them healthy and happy, we will start to see positive changes in our length
What are some methods you recommend to retain moisture and keep hair hydrated?
- Deep Conditioning often. This should always be a part of your wash day routine.
- Use a water based leave in conditioner between wash days and sealing with an oil.
- Never exclusively use oil or any oil based product that does not have water in the ingredients to moisturize the hair. While the hair will feel good eventually this can lead to breakage as our hair needs water, and oil blocks water leaving our hair technically dehydrated.
What are the best questions to ask a hairstylist someone is concerned about their edges and nervous about getting a protective style?
Always ask what the styling process will be from the start of the service. What is their approach when it comes to maintaining healthy edges? For instance, at my studio all services start at the shampoo bowl as hair care starts with the cleansing process. We have a conditioning steam treatment available and we never sacrifice the health of the hair for a temporary style.
As a client, what are some things one should look out for when going to a hair salon? (i.e. Some hairstylists relax 4C edges, is that a necessity?)
Reviews! Definitely look up your stylist before setting an appointment. Social Media gives us access to reviews 24-7 and if it feels right, book a consultation. A consultation is a great way to communicate your hair needs with your stylist and get a feel for if the stylist is a good fit for you. Ask to see pictures of their work, have them explain the process of meeting your hair goals, then decide from there if you want to move forward with booking your styling appointment.
Follow Niani for more tips & tricks at @niani_b & @BeauteAnthologie