When we say careful crafted we mean it, you know, and we really gone the distance to make sure that we are not only meeting the NPA standards but we’re exceeding them with our suppliers and supplier relationships all the way down to supply chain if you will. -Megan Johnson
One thing I love about blogging is that brands trust me to provide some insight about their products. I also try to focus on products with natural, botanical, or organic ingredients (hence the reasoning for the name on my blog ;). I am not saying that you necessarily need ALL natural products to grow healthy hair, however, I like to give my hair, body and skin optimum results and it just seems to be my personal preference. In addition, I am a huge supporter of small businesses and I feel even more empowered when a woman is behind creating the brand which is how I met the Founder/CEO of Pure Alchemy Products Megan Johnson. Coco | Conscious Collective is a natural plan based hair care line is based out of Dallas, Texas and focuses on the integrity of hair care simply due to the ingredients used in all the products (that’s my favorite part about them!). Let’s hear more from the Coco | Conscious Collective founder herself, Megan Johnson, about what inspired the concept and what sets her hair care brand a part from others. Shall we begin…
OrganixLocs: How did you come up with the idea for Coco | Conscious Collective and how is it different from other products on the market?
Megan Johnson: Well OK, so originally I have a background in the more traditional hair care category and that’s how I really started in the industry in general. And so specifically I worked with a company whose primary products were relaxers.
OL: Oh really [laughs]!
MJ: Yes yes! I was actually natural when I started and I’m a solid naturalista so I’ve probably been natural for hmmm, I want to say about 10 years prior, [it] probably started for me at the tail end of high school going into to college. You know that kind of thing. I would say I had a few kind of chemical, you know, texture softener period going into the corporate work force and trying to figure out how to get [my hair] as simple as possible yet keeping it professional and nice and neat. And as much as I am in the beauty business I am a wash-and-go kind of girl [laughs]. It has to be about convenience for me. But then, like I said, I just backed away from it all and was like heck it`s [hair] on my head; I want to embrace my natural texture. Some stylist that I was going to wasn’t even using the right products that I was requesting in their attempt to save money on their end and then [I’m] like forget it people aren’t being truthful with me in that regard. And so I walk I walk into the relaxer category with that background and [I] was a little bit on the fence, if you will, relating to whether or not I could whole heartily convey relaxers to the masses based on my personal convictions. Ultimately, I think it was a great learning experience because what you find is that women really do want choice and want versatility. There’s no right or wrong way. You don’t have to be anti-relaxer or anti-natural to be using relaxers or to not be using them. And it also was a great training ground, like I said, for my [journey] into the industry. But one thing I did notice, particularly companies of that variety, that while we were intent on serving our customers, you know the women that were purchasing our products, as best possible, there just wasn’t a lot of care in beauty to what was actually going into the products or what was being used, how women were using them, how we could evolve and innovate as a company in order to better serve her. Not just her hair care but as it pertains to the chemicals that women and our customers were using on their bodies. Even being in this evolutionary landscape we had a lot of these other brands introducing products to style natural hair you still saw a lot of companies introducing products with a lot of chemicals in them. You know it’s sort of counterintuitive, right, to style your natural hair using everything but, or I call it everything but natural products /natural ingredients in them. And then the thing is that there’s been a lot of mistruth historically in our category. I mean think about brands like Organic Root Stimulator (ORS). Organic is in their name but again the products are everything but organic. I think for women that do know there is a loss of credibility as it pertains to products that should be ours, should be owned by us essentially as a consumer within a category. So, I know people like myself, I was buying outside of the category because of that so that’s probably why it all started. Having this lens and this background of wanting to have a brand that could be credible in that sense. For us where our products are 100% natural, we’re indicating that. Specifically one of our products has a synthetic in it, a 3% synthetic, so we’re letting the consumer know that it’s 97 % natural. So for me a lot of it is about transparency and credibility; trying to bring some of that back to the category and back to the products. That is mostly what it’s about and so that`s really how we’re different. Our products are soon to be completely certified by the Natural Product Association (NPA).
MJ: Yeah we wanted to go through the vetting process with them. We did quite a bit of research to determine who’s sort of the best and the most legitimate, most thorough in the category, were as far as that vetting process, and [the NPA] definitely came out on top with that regard. So we’ve selected them essentially as our vetting partner and authority in the space to give us that field certification.
OL: Another thing I find it cool that you’ve mentioned about how certain products, just because it has the name organic in it, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all natural. It’s definitely all a part of the marketing and strategy. I know myself being a person who graduated in like the advertising industry, marketing is a part of the game. I remember one time one of the relaxer brands came out with claims of having natural this and it’s a plant-based relaxer. A relaxer is a chemical. It has lye in it, it is no way you can get around it. I just find it funny how sometimes companies try to flip it and say well you know it has natural additive and things like that but call it a chemical. A chemical is a chemical.
MJ: Yeah yeah exactly. I mean the reality is that those relaxers, a lot of those smoothing systems, or whatever they are now, a lot of them require activators and anything that needs to be activated there is a chemical reactionary process that goes into that [laughs]. I think consumers can get confused and I really think it’s incumbent upon those [brands] in the space to like I said provide transparency into that process and I don’t necessarily know if that’s occurring . I don’t know if that’s occurring.
I’m always listening and like I said trying to learn and hoping that I am evolving right there with our customers. -Megan Johnson
OL: As far as the brand being certified, how is that process, going through it, to have Coco | Conscious Collective evaluated and in the process of being certified as a natural brand?
MJ: You know it’s quite a lengthy process. It’s probably intense because it really started with us and our due diligence on the front end with our suppliers, with our formulations and that sort of thing. I have a bit of, [well] not much of a chemical background, but I know enough [laughs]. It really was one of those things when coming up with formulations and knowing the direction I wanted to go in by knowing what was possible and being able to provide my direct formulator without guidance. And it really became a part of us as a team through due diligence with our suppliers to make sure that how they process the chemicals was accessible to the NPA so there are only certain processes of the ingredients. Really there are all kinds of chemicals, and things if you will, but the sources of them has to be botanically derived so we won’t have any petro-derived chemicals. A lot of derivatives are either natural or petro or petroleum derived [and] a lot of times companies will go with the petroleum derived direction for cost savings. You know obviously the natural course ingredients have to be put through a different process. They’re less abundant and supply because they’re not synthetic, and so they do, they cost a little bit more. Finding suppliers that do those processes that are acceptable to the NPA can be a little bit challenging as well. When we say careful crafted we mean it, you know, and we really gone the distance to make sure that we are not only meeting the NPA standards but we’re exceeding them with our suppliers and supplier relationships all the way down to supply chain if you will. It’s been quite a process but the NPA they’re great to work with; they’re real great to work with and they’ll definitely help you get there so they’ve been a great partner.
OL: I also noticed that all of the coco conscious products are numbered like a hair care system. So if you don’t use all of the steps together is it possible to still use them individually?
MJ: Yes. Yes. It’s very possible to do so. We ended up positioning them as a system because they do work tandem. When you’re using other sorts of shampoos kind of mixing and matching, that sort of thing, you don’t necessarily get the benefit of like I said the system working together or all of the ingredients in the valued composition o what’s in the system working together. So if we talk about our smoothing platform across the line, particularly in how we rely or more of an amino acid base system across both of the lines, the curly line as well, so you get the benefit of that in the system but you can definitely use them individually. I can’t say that there will be any serious repercussions or anything if you don’t but I think you do optimize the benefits of the product using them all together. But obviously everyone has their own perspective on what works for them and we are definitely here with something that hopefully works for everybody.
OL: That is good to know you can use them individually.
MJ: Yes. It’s very personalized is what I find and it’s really, it’s very perceptual too. You can take two women with the exact same hair type with completely different experiences with the exact same product; you know it’s incredible! It is quite a challenge I continue to enjoy it as well.
OL: What are some of your favorite natural hair ingredients and can we find some of those ingredients in the Coco | Conscious Collective brand?
MJ: Let’s see my favorite natural ingredients, for me from both of our lines, would be our amino acid complex. Those work wonders. Some things in there are designed to work as a system so I really focused also on, I always want to call umm, I guess its the shine platform but like a brightening platform. For me I used to always color my hair particularly black for the most part, depending seasonally but for the most part black, because it always gets kind of me. So going into the development of this one I was like we really need color enhancers but from a natural perspective obviously so that’s one thing that we also built in. We have a shine complex and a brightening complex as well for hair. That’s kind of baked in there and then some of the basics as well like coconut oil, you know you can never go wrong with coconut oil, never ever. I’m trying to just think of some other critical ones. Ok we have another baked in kind of system not just one of the ingredients but the combination of the two of them. There designed for curl definition or plumping as well. Those things I really like about it and I’m probably more of a 4b 4a [hair] mix and so even across textures it really aids in plumping. I mean obviously some of that is style method as well but I think it really provides definition particularly within the curly line. Like when you look at our foaming gel as well as the moisture cleanser. Throughout the system, furthering through the gel and the leave-in, you’ll get the same properties that really focus curl definition you know pre and post styling.
OL: So you have all the good stuff there!
MJ: Yes trying to anyway and, any feedback, we are always welcomed [to have] from you [and] your readers. You know drop us a line; let us know if you need something that’s not out there we can get it for you [laughs]. We’re always trying to learn, evolve and innovate.
OL: Following the launch of your brand what can new and excited customers see in 2015 from you and the Coco | Conscious Collective team?
MJ: In 2015 we’ll really be focused on our channel of distribution so particularly trying to make sure the consumer can find us in more places. Obviously our our e-commerce site will be up and running so that we’re always available but trying to make sure you can find us in more places. We may look into the broader retail landscape and/or broader e-tailer commerce landscape as well. We’re also going to focus a lot more on providing content around the product usage and building out our styling platform using the products as well. You can look to us for a little bit more content and how-to’s and probably even being able to rely on some of our famous faces in beauty as well. But ultimately we contribute to try and grow and we’re always open to feedback, testimonials, that sort of thing you know. They aren’t many people between the consumer and me [laughs] so our phones are always there. I’m always listening and like I said trying to learn and hoping that I am evolving right there with our customers.
The Coco | Conscious Collective products will become available for purchase in February. I’ve tried two products from the StraighTransformations smoothing line and will post the review next week for everyone so in the mean time check out Cococonscious.com!