Images by TreasureTress
“We don’t want better haircare!” said no black person ever. Yet those of us with 4c-textured hair continue to be ignored by most major haircare manufacturers.
When TreasureTress launched in 2015, it was the outcome of a nonstop mission to reach every curl with a hair subscription box service. Since then, it has been reviewed in Harper’s Bazaar, Black Beauty & Hair Magazine and Good Housekeeping. Owner Jamelia Donaldson took her PR expertise and travelled the world – hitting the Middle East, America and Asia – to create tectonic waves in the beauty industry. She did this by age 23.
“Subscription boxes as an idea are not new. They can be put to any market – from dog treats to skincare – so it has to be something really special to really stand out”
Subscription boxes as an idea are not new. They can be put to any market – from dog treats to skincare – so it has to be something really special to really stand out. TressureTress considers all ages, with specific boxes for specific age groups containing products from brands including Sunny Isle, ORS, Crème of Nature, and Miele Organics. £20 gets you four to five products, including shampoos, conditioners and styling products. So far TreasureTress has shipped to 29 countries with more countries in the pipeline.
When I went along to their two-day pop-up shop in November in Peckham, South East London, I did not expect it to be so beautiful. Imagine a mass of different skin shades and curl types celebrating deep conditioning masks and co-washes. I looked around nervously as each person seemed to know more than me. But there was no competitiveness. It was relieved women who want better hair care.
“Christelle’s large ‘fro (which resembles a bouquet of roses) is thanks to religiously deep conditioning on a weekly basis”
TreasureTress staff kept busy lugging boxes, restocking shelves, hugging friends, processing payments and directing women to the WAH! Nail Bar. Christelle Ugbaja, the TreasureTress community manager, smiling cheekily, tells me that the next pop-up event is already being planned. “The response has been phenomenal in three years because our community understands our mission! We’re growing internationally and ship boxes to over 29 countries,” she explains.
The brand’s motto is “no longer exchanging our hard-earned cash for mediocre experiences”, and amen. According to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, black women spend roughly £4.8 billion on products worldwide. Imagine if we could all get the money back we’ve spent on the wrong products. It’s this wasted money that – once we’ve spent enough time lamenting – we want to reclaim. How do you reclaim lost money? You make sure it’s not wasted again.
When I ask the future plan for TreasureTress, the ideas extend beyond the UK. “Our plan is European expansion of our subscriber base to include more black and mixed-race women across the region, together forging a wider identity coupled with accurate, relatable content and campaigns to truly demonstrate what it means to be a black woman, in all shades, textures, tones and kinks and quirks!” says Jamelia without hesitation.
Christelle tells me: “We would love to build an Afro-European community. We believe that a lot of times people don’t believe black women exist throughout Europe, we know this is not true and would love to bring all these women together.”
“Passion is needed for a brand to grow, but there also needs to be a genuine love for all shades, curl types and customers”
Passion is needed for a brand to grow, but there also needs to be a genuine love for all shades, curl types and customers. That love was evident at the pop-up. Every person who walked in was given care and attention to the point where the shop came to resemble a slow-moving traffic jam as people are vying for products. Of course, the women behind the brand know what works for them. Christelle’s large ‘fro (which resembles a bouquet of roses) is thanks to religiously deep conditioning on a weekly basis coupled with leave-ins and TreasureTress boxes. Jamelia’s hair ritual is perfect for busy women, with deep conditions, buns and braid outs.
As with everything, when you’re black in a Eurocentric space, there is always advice you wish you could give your younger self to help the journey of self-love. “Accept it, work it, love it! Just lose the relaxer sis!” says Christelle whilst Jamelia touches on the essence of those moments when you wished you looked like the women on the glossy pages. “It doesn’t have to be, and won’t be like anyone else’s. Play with your texture without heat. Experiment but understand the underlying beauty of black hair and its versatility. Your hair is going to lead you in the direction of your passion and purpose.”
Jamelia highlights the sense of community that fell over the pop-up. “Overhearing our subscribers advise complete strangers on which products work well for what, and what they should put in their box was touching. The sisterhood. The genuine offline and online community who understand the greater mission, believe in the greater mission and have full faith in the change we’re making in wider society.”
Christelle echoes this sentiment with enthusiasm: “We couldn’t stress the importance of community for us enough! The highlight was definitely the ladies who came and showed out! The fact that most women came and stayed for hours just to be in a space with other women who look like them is magical to us. ”
Black women in business are moving mountains and TreasureTress is a strong part of this, right here in the U.K. When I ask the women to describe TreasureTress, they don’t need to think: fun, welcoming, innovating, community, convenient, affordable, informative and culture. And they’re right. Hair is culture. Every braid. Every curl is culture.
Click here to subscribe to TreasureTress and begin the journey to better curls.