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Cornell McBride Jr. of Design Essentials Talks Retail Launch of Natural Line, the Future of Black Hair Care

By// Mariah Craddick

There is no question that natural hair is more than a mere fashion trend. Simply take a look around and notice how many women are now proudly rocking their kinks and curls and swear to never go back to the “creamy crack.” With that, Design Essentials Salon System has decided to tap into the natural market with the launch of its Design Essentials Natural line now available in retail stores for the first time in the brand’s history.

President of McBride Research Laboratories and General Manager of Design Essentials, Cornell McBride Jr., spoke with JETmag.com about this exciting development and what his predictions are for the future of Black hair care.

What influenced the decision to launch a Design Essentials line for retail?

We’re only launching the natural part [as] retail. We felt that market is more of a “do-it-yourself” type market and they seek to find products that are convenient. They need to find products they can use at home themselves. By making it more available to the consumer in retail space, that would help bring them in to experience the brand. It gives us the opportunity to engage them at a different level.

Has the recent boom and interest in natural hair created a higher demand for products? What kind of shifts have you seen?

courtesy of Design Essentials

courtesy of Design Essentials

With the natural hair movement, one thing that happened is the higher consumption of products because you need more conditioners, more moisturizers. You consume more styling products. That’s one of the things we’re noticing and it’s really driving demand in the market place.

As a Black-owned hair care company, why do you believe there are so few out there?

Right now actually, we’re going through another revolution per se. There are a lot of African-American owned companies in the space. Some of them are fairly new versus the ones we traditionally know. When we look at the natural segment, you see newer African-American manufacturers leading the space.

What’s in the cards for the future of Black hair care?

I see the terminology changing from “Black hair care” to “textured.” There’s a greater opportunity to speak to a wider audience by shifting to textured consumers.

As a manufacturer, what kind of challenges have you faced with the addition of natural products?

Natural is very hard to define, to be honest with you, because everyone seems to have a different definition. Some of the information out there is misinformation. I think that is the biggest challenge: having the right information about the ingredients.

How does Design Essentials define “natural”?

We define natural as a person of textured, curly hair – wavy to kinky hair. Someone who does not have any kind of chemically-altered hair.

Any products in the natural line that you’re particularly excited about? 

courtesy of Design Essentials

courtesy of Design Essentials

One product is the Twist and Set. It does a great job allowing a person to do two-strand twists. From a time and convenience standpoint, it gives the consumer the opportunity to create a style on the weekend, twist it, wear it like that for a few days, then take it down to get more use out of that style. So you end up with the style lasting over a couple of weeks. And our Daily Moisturizing Lotion is for daily moisturizing of the hair – exactly what it says. It’s great for all textures.

Where do you hope to take the company going forward?

As we move forward, we’re trying to expand the customer set and redefine who we’re speaking to. We’re speaking to a broader audience because we believe there are consumers who have a loose curly or curly pattern, and they can benefit from usage of our products. We’re also working hard to really expand internationally. We’re in the Caribbean and Europe, and we’re trying to really move into Africa.

You can purchase Design Essentials Natural at Sally’s Beauty Supply and other select retail stores nationwide. To find out which retailers carry the line and more about the products click here.