Baton Rouge mother creates hair clay for her daughter, demand grew into a full product lineJune 12, 2017
Melissa Baker can write a book on life struggles. She can tell you about losing everything… money, marriage, focus, and even losing yourself. But she says she’d rather tell you a story about how life surprises you when you least expect it.
Baker, like so many single parent Black women, try to save every penny by shopping affordably but hair care products for a house with more than one girl in the family can be very expensive. Baker has a 19 year old son and a 5 year old daughter. She wasn’t pleased with the hair products she had been using so she decided to research what was in the products. In her research, she discoverd many of the products which are sold are not very healthy for the scalp and they don’t protect hair.
“I have never worked in a beauty shop. I actually worked in prisons for 8 years. As a mother, I just got to the point where I wanted something better for my daughter’s hair but also for myself,” she said. She researched and tested her formula for months until she reached consistent flawless results. “I intended to use my formula for my daughter but I’ve tested it on my son too. He has a totally different texture of hair. It perfected his hair and scalp as well,” she confidently explained.
Her brand, Marie’s #1 Choice, is actually named after daughter. After sharing her product with a few friends, the word spread amongst locals and the calls began coming in. “It can be overwhelming at times because even though people are asking for the product we are not in a huge factory. The base is handcrafted and formulated by Melissa and her kids.
Black Boot News Co-Owner, Sandria Wright, heard about the product through a friend and decided to test it out on her hair. Wright has been natural for 8 years and she, like Baker, have had bad experiences with many hair products. Wright said she was surprised at how much she liked this product. “I could feel a tingling on my scalp and after I washed it out, my scalp looked clean, smelled clean, but most importantly it felt good. I could still feel the tingle on my head the next day. I would definitely use it again,” she said.
Wright is launching a Hair section of Black Boot in late June that will review new products and it will feature live videos of she and others using products. She plans to do a review of Marie’s #1 Choice when it launches. “It doesn’t matter if it’s sold at the supply stores or not. Millions of Black Women trust each other. We have never relied on commercials to tell us what’s best for our hair. Hair Blogs and word of mouth is what Black Women pay more attention to. Her product is definitely worth recommending to other ladies,” said Wright.
Baker’s line includes Marie’s #1 Choice Cleansing Clay, Hair Growth Oil Spritzer, Conditioning Gel, and a Wash-Out Conditioner is due to release soon. She even has a T-Shirt Line that women have started ordering which reads, “I Kinky Swear No Lyes.”
She admits when she began her products she focused on formulas for “natural” hair. Marie’s #1 Choice Natural Cleansing Clay is for natural hair only. However, her other products have been effective for Natural and Straight Hair. “We haven’t had one customer, natural or straight, to tell us they were dissatisfied,” she said. She believes the world focuses too much on divisions. “Companies are always trying to divide and separate us. Music brings people together. I believe Hair can as well,” she explained. “Here is a product that doesn’t depend on race or gender. It works for all hair. I just want to see people happy about their hair and confident that their scalp and hair is clean.”
She’s been using her own product for a while but it became a booming business in January 2017. The demands were so great that she couldn’t ignore the possibilities which literally fell in her lap. “This is sooo not what I saw my life becoming,” she laughed. “But things happen and you have to have the Faith to walk through doors when they are opening for you.” She never imagined she would go from admiring beautiful hair pictures on Pinterest to making products that actually help hair look and feel beautiful.
Baker is not opposed to entertaining the idea of a distribution deal but if that never happens she is content with growing it on her own. “Having the product available all over the country would be wonderful but at the end of the day it’s about believing in what you have. Mainstream stores really should engage more with smaller Hair Companies but if they don’t we will just keep spreading the word about great hair products with each other like we have been doing for years,” she says.
She was born in Baton Rouge and raised in Baker, a small town in North Baton Rouge. Customers in Baton Rouge have told her… “that fantastic scalp tingling sensation is still there the next day”…. “my hair seems much easier to manage”…. “My hair still has that locked in moisture feel two weeks later”…. “my curl pattern is more defined than ever before”… “I recognized a tremendous hair growth spurt within a week.”
Baker says the reports she has received from customers blesses her and motivates her to continue building the brand. “We are growing rapidly and even though the income and the calls are great, what’s even greater is the fact that our customers are honestly and truly satisfied with the product. That in itself keeps my spirit lifted.”
To order Marie’s #1 Choice, call 662-589-2078 or visit her website: mariesnumber1choice.com.
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