We had the good fortune of connecting with Nnenna Umelloh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nnenna, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I went natural when I was 16 years old but that doesn’t mean I had any idea what I was doing! The transition to being natural was a trainwreck. I had no clue what my real texture was like or how to take care of it. In fact, it took me a couple of years to grow out the perm in my hair in the first place. Learning what my hair needed to be healthy was a confusing mess. I kept on comparing myself and my hair journey to other women. I’d question my own beauty because my hair didn’t bounce like theirs or my curls weren’t as defined as theirs. I thought if I used the right combination of products or I washed my hair enough, it would finally get better. It didn’t. It took me years to figure out my hair texture and what I specifically needed to make my hair grow. Now I love my texture and I love my hair but it took time and patience. I know there are millions of women, men, and non-binary individuals who going through the same challenges as we speak. That’s why I created Black Hair Management. It started as a solution for myself that now I get to bring to the masses.
What should our readers know about your business?
At Black Hair Management, we provide high quality, toxic-free hair care products based on hair texture and hair goals. The products we offer are eco-friendly, evolve with your lifestyle, and come with customized hair routines and tips. B.H.M is a hair care subscription service designed to help women grow healthy, happy hair based on lifestyle, hair texture, and hair goals. At B.H.M we understand that haircare is one element of self-care and wellness. That’s why we take a holistic approach to help people grow their hair. Lifestyle is critically important to your health (including hair). Eating habits, smoking habits, sleeping habits, how you manage your stress, exercise, and other lifestyle factors impact your overall health and are just as important as having access to high-quality haircare products. That’s why we have a Self-Awareness Coach on our team to help our subscribers work through some mental health aspects of being natural and taking care of your hair.
To date, I’m super proud of all the partnerships I’ve acquired. We have 11 brands that are excited to work with us and bring B.H.M to life. Getting to where I am today business-wise is a long story. Basically, I decided to take a leap of faith and invest in myself. I believed that I had what it takes to bring a viable solution to the hair care dilemma and no. It was not easy at all. It’s definitely worth it and I love what I do, but running a startup is not easy. I know this sounds too easy to actually work, but asking for help has seen me through some of the worst hurdles thus far. I know it sounds too good to be true but whenever I run into issues I tap into my network of mentors, family, and friends and I ask for help. I am fortunate enough to have people who are rooting for me all the way.
One mantra I have that’s been reaffirmed during this journey is not to be limited by other people’s success. It’s easy to be pigeonholed as a black founder. Especially a black female founder. Fortunately, I make it a point to follow the beat of my own drum. I can appreciate the success of others without holding myself hostage by their success.
One thing I want people to know about B.H.M is that we’re an evolving brand. Yes, hair care is our home but the house is getting bigger. We want to help our subscribers understand the bigger picture. Haircare is one element of self-care and wellness and we want to be a partner through that entire journey. This experience is not limited to women. We are striving to be gender inclusive so that everyone, regardless of identity, can feel comfortable and confident taking part.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I make it a point to visit as many black-owned establishments as possible whenever I go out with family or friends.
I love books, good food, and light shopping so in Dallas I’d take you to the Pan African Bookstore first. It’s the only black-owned bookshop in Dallas and it has an excellent assortment of books and fun programming events for book lovers. Then I’d take you to the Bishop Arts District to visit another bookshop called Wild Detectives. I love the vintage vibe in that place. Plus it’s also a cafe and there’s plenty of lounge space without feeling crowded.
Afterward, I’d take you to Indigo 1745, the only black-owned boutique in the Bishop Arts District before visiting yet another bookshop. This time it would be the new poetry bookshop called the Poets Oak Cliff Bookshop. When we get hungry, we have plenty of options. There’s a black-owned Jamaican restaurant called the Island Spot that is way too yummy for its own good. Since I like BBQ, we’d also go to Off the Bone (a black-owned BBQ) another day.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to send a shoutout as well as my love and adoration to my Self-Awareness Coach and confidant, Lakitia Woodard. Lakitia has been with me since Day 1 and continues to be one of my loudest, most passionate cheerleaders. I love you so much Lakitia! Thank you for believing in me (even when I’m questioning if it’s possible).