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HomeNewsCommunityYoung entrepreneur champions natural hair movement for Black women

Young entrepreneur champions natural hair movement for Black women

When Arna Boothe-bernard signed up for the international business management program at Durham College, she expected to enhance her business acumen and then apply this knowledge to expand her hair care product business in Jamaica.

Now, she is gearing up to take her online venture, ArnaGonics, into the Canadian market. The brand is known for its natural hair care offerings, including products such as shampoos, conditioners and moisturizers, tailored for natural hair.

Boothe-bernard, who struggled with her own hair for years, found it difficult to find suitable products. To address this challenge she started a hair business in 2014 as a hobby. She shared her products with friends and family, and eventually established her business.

Despite being a licensed attorney in Jamaica, Boothe-bernard decided to blend her legal expertise with her entrepreneurial spirit by enrolling at DC.

Now residing in Canada with her brother, Boothe-bernard says she’s driven by the desire to share knowledge and empower other Black women to embrace and care for their natural hair

Boothe-bernard said, “There’s this misconception that Black hair can’t go long, or it can’t be healthy, or it can’t be beautiful.” She added, “And that’s sort of inspired my drive just to prove that yes, you can.”

According to Boothe-benard, a “natural hair movement” among Black women has become commonplace for years, with many women moving away from chemically focused hair products and into natural alternatives.

She credits the rise of YouTube in the late 2000s as a crucial platform for learning about natural hair care, which significantly influenced the development of her business.

“Us in the Black community, we had to turn to our natural solutions,” she said. “We started to look more to our natural oils or essential oils like peppermint tea, tree oil, lavender oil, and jojoba oil,” she said.

She also noted a surge in consumer interest towards natural and sustainable products, fuelled by access to information.

“People are more health-conscious these days, and that has to do with information too. The more knowledgeable you are, the better choices you make,” she said.

Boothe-bernard says she has a “great” relationship with her customers. Orders are placed through her website, but customers often contact her directly through social media channels like Instagram and e-mail.

Arna Boothe-bernard types an email into her laptop while connecting with a client for her hair care business in the Fast Start building at Durham College on February 13, 2024.
Arna Boothe-bernard spends hours working with FastStart to find ways to establish her business in Canada. Photo credit: Gage Patte

She credits her customers for driving her business. “I have customers who act as ambassadors for my business because they’ve been using it so much. They’ve seen so much results from using the products.”

Anthia Carnegie, a fellow classmate from Knox College High in Jamaica, reconnected with Boothe-bernard through social media. As a “natural hair enthusiast” Carnegie was among the initial users of Boothe-bernard’s products and witnessed remarkable improvements.

Carnegie who has eczema that affects her scalp, appreciated the gentleness of the natural products on her skin. “The results speak for themselves, there’s no doubt,” said Carnegie, who says her hair has grown from shoulder to waist length in eight months since she started using the products.

Boothe-bernard is currently focused on refining her business, including tailoring personalized hair care routines for a broader audience and enhancing her social media engagement.