Meet Rochelle "Alikay" Graham: daughter, wife, mother, and Founder of Alikay Naturals. When she's not busy in the kitchen, whipping up a formula,this on the go mom is teaching other women how to love and take care of their hair and bodies. Rochelle's natural and organic hair and skin line will leave you feeling great and smell good too! Come join us and see what she has to say to YOU!
"The best quality natural ingredients are a must to create the best products for our customers...At the end of the day, we do this for them."
Q: How did your mother and husband inspire you to go natural?
A: My mom’s transition to natural hair was my inspiration. She was working out and her relaxed hair was not holding up with her intense workout regime. She wanted a hairstyle that reflected her new “healthier” head-to-toe outlook. Witnessing her transformation inspired me to cut my braided extensions out and relearn how to maintain my own natural hair without all the artificial frills. My husband has been my #1 supporter from day one; encouraging me to rock my natural curls…from a TWA to wash & gos…he has embraced my hair’s versatility at every stage.
Q: During the time you first went natural there weren't a lot of natural hair care companies out yet, so what did you use? What was your regiment?
A: The lack of quality products in the marketplace that fit my natural hair needs inspired me to create a hair care collection for nurturing my own natural hair after my 2nd big chop. Moisture is essential for healthy hair. In relearning how to care for my natural hair, I found the Loc Method to be a great way for sealing moisture into my natural tresses.
Q: How did this lack of demand affect how you treated and cared your hair?
A: Lack of resources definitely played a role in the damage that came when I over processed my hair with color after my 1st big chop. The 2nd big chop was more emotional than my “freeing myself” 1st big chop because with the 2nd big chop I was cutting off natural hair that had been damaged, not relaxed hair.
Q: What inspired your jewelry line, Nyamani Chic, and how would you describe it's style?
A: I was inspired to start NyaMani Chic when I first decided to go natural. The line is definitely a reflection of a divaliciously brighter spin on afrocentric style. I wanted to mix afrocentric style with divaliciously bold accents.
Q: Has your Jamaican culture and upbringing influenced your business and ideas in any way?
A: You can definitely see cultural influences in the Alikay Naturals ingredients and the packaging. My grandmother was an herbalist in Jamaica, so I always felt a connection with nature from my early childhood on the island. Crops weren’t grown with pesticides and there was a different relationship with natural resources. Building on that foundation that my grandmother provided for me years ago, I wanted to use the richest natural & organic ingredients to create healthy hair care products to achieve long term healthy hair goals with all hair textures.
Q: How does it feel to have the man of your dreams help make your dreams a living reality by standing side by side with you to help push you forward?
A: My son and I are so blessed to have such a wonderful husband and father in our lives. My partner in life and business my husband is priceless as the co-founder of Alikay Naturals. I am truly grateful that we are on this journey together .
Q: You've grown from handmade jewelry, to supplying a demand of natural hair products, to inventing your own world of natural hair, skin, bath and body products, including exotic chic jewelry, apparel, and gifting the knowledge and wisdom of hair to others in one; known as the Black Onyx World. When people experience YOUR world of love, what are they to expect and receive?
A: Genuine unconditional support that is not only about quality products, but encouragement as well. As a part of Black Onyx World LLC, Alikay Naturals is a lifestyle brand that embraces everyone...from our Skype consultations to our YouTube videos. We want to be there for the consumer needs through all aspects of their lives, not just their natural hair journey.
Q: What was the motivation behind the name Black Onyx World?
A: Black Onyx is not only a strong afrocentric name, but is one of my favorite stones.
Q: Why Alikay Naturals? What does it mean?
A: Alikay is my middle name.
Q: Recently, I did an interview with Nicole Jennings of Purgasm Shop, an entrepreneur like yourself, and she informed me that you gave her wonderful advise on some business endeavors. How important is it to you to have a great supporting relationship/friendship with others who are, technically, your competition?
A: "Paying it forward" is a philosophy that I apply in many aspects of my live, not just business. I don't necessarily look at someone, such as Nicole with Purgasm Shop, as my competition. I look at her as a person first; see her as someone who may need some words of wisdom and encouragement in fulfilling and pursuing her dream. I just really wanted to lend a helping hand that I wished was offered to me when I was first starting. I do believe that in order for not just the natural hair community, but all black businesses and young entrepreneurs to grow, we have to support each other. That's the reason why I supported her and the reason why I continue to support others.
Q: Obviously, you are secure in yourself and your company that loving on someone who in your same line of work is not an issue. Where does this kind of love come from?
A: My family always encouraged individuality and inspired me to reach high, but not at the demise of others. I remember my mother not only telling me that “you are not confined by your circumstances,” but leading by example. She gave me a great foundation for being a source of inspiration and empowerment. Negative energy clouds your vision and does not enable you to make your dreams a reality any faster.
Q: Your products are being sold all over the US and even different parts of the world. 90% of California's black/mixed women are natural; some are sporting what God gave them, other's rock weaves, straight hair, and wigs. With such a big market of possible clientele, are you thinking of expanding your brand to various shops here?
A: And if so, where can we get it? Alikay Naturals is a part of a couple of amazing California events this month with Fierce Naturals and LA Naturals (tune into our Facebook page for more details). We are working on expanding our brand into California retail outlets very very soon. Definitely stay tuned into our social media pages for an announcement of locations where you'll be able to find Alikay Naturals in the near future.
Q: What in this life brings you the most joy?
A: Time with my family. Those stolen moments are priceless.
Q: Like me, you strive to inspire women to love and embrace their natural hair. When you see all of the responses from your clients, do you feel that this goal is being met and lives are being touched/changed?
A: Going beyond conventional perceptions of beauty, I want to be an influential force in sharing the appreciation of ALL beauty as well as the individuality that builds confidence. When I look at the positive feedback received through the Alikay Naturals social media, testimonials and emails I see the impact that Alikay Naturals has made as a platform in the natural hair community to inspire other women through brand awareness, public appearance, fundraisers, speaker panels and sponsorships.