Philly has been home to a plethora of budding local businesses. Let’s see… There are restaurateurs carving out culinary niches of fusion cuisines that pay homage to their nostalgic cultural ties to home. The coffee houses and cafes were once far and very few in between but now they’ve eagerly set up shop to roast their aromatic beans here as well. Even when it comes to beer, you never realize all the micro breweries hidden throughout the city until you’re walking down some random alleyway or you deviate from your normal beaten path. The heavy community of fashion designers, musicians, and artists might even surprise you (well, maybe if you’re not a Philly native it just might)!
If you happen to find yourself hanging around 4th & South Streets (all walking distance from the ‘original’ Ishkabibble’s location, The TLA, and MilkBoy Philly on South Street), now you will find the brick-and-mortar beauty retail boutique, Marsh+Mane, who has also laid its roots in Philly. A black owned establishment For Us By Us (thank you F.U.B.U for that life changing acronym) will always be celebrated because it’s necessary for our community. It’s a great feeling to support another #BossBabe of color but the Marsh+Mane experience alone will have you calling all of your girlfriends just to have a self-care spa day shopping soiree; the space is just that beautiful and welcoming. Like a place of refuge for the kinky, curly, locked hair, and transitioning between textures folks who are trying to keep their sanity for healthy and glorious hair. This is where quality hair + skincare products can be found, in addition to, funky accessories and tools like Eternally Amber combs and even the Q-Redew Hair Steamer… but ALL IN ONE SPACE.
That’s what I like to call options!
In Philly, the typical beauty supply stores are geared to sell you wigs of all personalities, wefted extensions by the packs or bundles, and tons of products that don’t translate to the natural hair community at all. Besides the shopping experience is always a pesky one with the Asian store owners nagging people of color for taking too long, or watching you like a hawk because they assume your in the store to steal items. For starters that’s annoying AF and down right discriminatory. At Marsh+Mane it’s the total opposite.
You can freely browse for as long as you like and read through each product to see what ingredients are best for your needs. You’ll be able to find coveted faves like Carol’s Daughter, Cream of Nature, Taliah Waajid, Girl+Hair, or unfamiliar gems like the Latin owned brand Rizos Curls, The Honey Pot Co, Philly’s own Bully Beard & Shave Oil and more.
You can always ask questions to the Marsh+Mane staff for their option on products and resourceful knowledge.
There are samples and testers for the majority of the products so you won’t have to figure out what’s in the jar before you purchase it.
Plus, the boutique smells amazing because its filled with serene aromas from the soil candles and handmade soaps that will surely keep you uplifted, yet, with a sense of calm.
With carefully curated products and accessories, that can range from $8.99-$78.00, for textured manes and melanated skin to cover the needs of the entire family, I was glad to catch up with Jenea Robinson, the Founder and CEO of Marsh+Mane, to learn more about her, her business and what sets Marsh+Mane a part from the rest.
OrganixLocs: Can you tell us a little more about yourself? Or is there something unique about you that very little people may know?
Marsh+Mane: I was born and raised in Hartford, CT. That’s where all of my family is now currently. I studied journalism at Howard University and have been working in Public Relations for the last 11 years. A lot of people don’t know that I love to write music and poetry. I even received a poetry scholarship for college!
OL: When I hear the name Marsh+Mane I think of nature being synonymous with the words fresh, clean and natural. How did you settle on a name for your natural hair beauty supply boutique? How did you gather inspiration to create the overall look, feel, and decor for the space as well?
MM: Because I don’t get to see my family often, I wanted a space where I felt their presence. The name Marsh + Mane pays homage to my parents’, grandparents’, great-grandparents hometowns in the South. People always ask me where does the “Marsh” in our name comes from. Some of my earliest memories are of my family driving through a swamp to get to my great-grand mother’s house in Longwood. I’ve always felt spiritually connected to the land. The South is home for many African Americans. Despite the ugly history, that soil contains the spirit of our ancestors and there is something powerful about that. Marsh represents that power. This land is where our mothers learned of remedies to take care of our hair + skin. Secrets that were passed down from their grandmothers and then on to us. Marsh + Mane is my way of paying homage to those women and celebrating the beauty of our past.
OL: What has been your typical beauty supply store experience as a women of color? How has that contributed to creating the Marsh + Mane experience?
MM: I’ve had mixed experiences. I had my one go-to place in Philly and I loved the ladies who worked there. But that was a rare find. Like many black women, I’ve been followed around the store or even rushed out if a sales person thought I was taking too long. I love to linger and look up ingredients and I feel like we are not given that space in many traditional beauty supply stores — not all of them — but many of them. Overall, beauty supply stores are not inspiring places. I wanted to create the kind of place I wish I could shop in.
OL: Yeah I totally get that. Like can you let a sistah breathe! And now there is a space for us to do just that. In between the hustle and bustle of running a business, what are some ways you like to care for yourself?
MM: I stay prayed up. That’s a must for me. Writing music and poetry is also very therapeutic for me.
OL: It looks like your poetry writing is a helpful tool in more than one way. How about for the aspiring women entrepreneurs out there; are there any words of wisdom that you can share with those embarking on this journey?
MM: Focus on ONE THING. This may sound simple but it’s actually very hard to do. If you’re like me and have many talents and passions you try to work all of those things until something sticks. Once I made up in my mind that I was going to focus on opening this store everything fell into place. Also, whatever spiritual practice you partake in, do that and do it often. Opening a business can be taxing on your mind, body and spirit especially if you’ve never done this before.
Head on over to support the boutique at 529 S 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147. You can connect, follow + receive product updates via Instagram @MarshandMane, Twitter and Facebook. Or become and Marsh+Mane Maven and sign up for email updates at www.MarshandMane.com.
Are you excited about this inclusive and empowering space for beauty in Philly? Drop a comment below to let me know your thoughts!