Trish is a natural woman
Trish Croke was overwhelmed when she first let her hair go natural.The pharmacy was packed with natural hair care products, but none of them worked for her.
“I was becoming a product junkie,” said the 50-year-old. “My bathroom closet was quickly filling with products I couldn’t use.”
So after some online research, she began experimenting with making her own hair care products.
“At first I was giving away what I was making,” she said. “Then my cousin suggested I sell it. I was hesitant at first, but then I thought I’d give it a try.”
She launched her own natural hair care line, Island Potions, last year.
Her line consisted of flaxseed gel, flaxseed custard, tropical ice gel, aloe vera gel treatment and many others, all ranging in price from $5 to $20.
They help with everything from eczema and itchiness to dry hair and hair freshness. She even has something for men with itchy beards. She also sells home-made soaps and candles.
At first, she imagined her market would be small, but there was an outpouring of interest.
“I entered the natural hair movement midstream,” she said.
Knowing that everyone’s hair is different, she decided to give consultations before selling her products.
“I am not a hair stylist or certified in any way,” she said. “I tell my clients not to take what I say as the gospel.
“I am just telling them what I know from experience and what I have found through research. That is what I work from.”
She has found that a lot of her clients are experiencing the same confusion she first felt.
“They are embracing their natural hair for the first time, but don’t know how to care for it,” she said.
Some of her clients have thinning hair after years of using chemicals to straighten it.
“Stress and medication can also affect your hair,” she said. “If you have a weave or dreads, that pulls on the hair and can lead to thinning hair.”
Unfortunately, she said, it is difficult to turn back thinning hair once it has started.
Her own hair journey has not been an easy one. She had her first perm when she was 12 years old.
“As I was growing up my hair had gotten a lot thicker and longer making it unmanageable for my mom,” said Ms Croke. “My mom being black Bermudian and father being Portuguese made my hair a different texture from my mom.
“With the struggle my mom had with my unique hair type she took me to the hairdresser and I got a perm.”
Ms Croke continued to get it permed until she was 45.
The final straw came when her long hair got caught in a car door in 2014.
“I knew it was time to do something different with my hair, but I didn’t know what,” she said.
Years of perms had left her hair dry and damaged. A hairdresser suggested she go natural.
At first Ms Croke balked at the idea. “I said I have to go to work, I can’t have my hair looking like that,” said Ms Croke.
But her hairdresser urged her to try it. “I tried it for three months, then panicked and said I can’t do this, I have to go back to a perm,” said Ms Croke.
But her hairdresser urged her to stick with it. What was left of her old perm was holding back her curls from coming in.
“She said, ‘Just keep doing it and your beautiful curls will come in’,” said Ms Croke. “So I transitioned for a year, and then decided to do what we call the Big Chop.
“It was scary to get my hair all cut off, but I knew it was time.”
She had to go quite short. Her friends and family were shocked but supportive. “Everyone was very positive,” she said.
Three years later, her hair falls to below her waist when it is straightened. When she started Island Potions she was working at Colonial as a full-time legal executive assistant.
“They made me redundant at the end of May,” she said. “That hit me hard because I wasn’t expecting it. Thank God that Island Potions was kicking off. I didn’t think it would be as successful as it is.”
And she loves the work. “At the end of the day I like being natural and I want to help other naturals,” she said. “I get satisfaction from it.”
But she is also hoping to find another full-time job as a personal assistant. “I just love helping people,” she said.
Her soy candles and soaps are available at Nubian Nook on Court Street. Her hair care products are sold from her home in Spanish Point.
For more information see Island Potions on Facebook or e-mail her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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