What motivated you to start Pholk?
I once read a statistic that as much as 75% of skincare marketed to WOC contain known toxins. As someone who struggles with balancing my combination skin, many mainstream natural skincare products are too heavy and lead to breakouts. So, I decided that I would combine my expertise in African Diaspora history with my love for folk herbalism to help others find natural solutions for concerns common to melanin-rich skin.
What would you consider your hero product from your brand?
The Werkacita Balm
What standards/non-negotiables do you take into consideration when thinking about enhancing or developing new products?
All ingredients must be natural, vegan. I also love using ingredients that have a cultural connection to the African Diaspora. They may have been not be traditionally used by Black folk as a skin remedy, but may be a common plant in gardens or a food ingredient. Also, since I think of melanin-rich skin as reactive skin, ingredients must be ultra gentle. That means I don’t use seeds or salts as exfoliants and all products are alcohol-free.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for "beauty/wellness" brands today?
I can’t speak for all brands but my biggest challenge is planning for growth. I have to juggle daily operations with investing and planning for a future that I can’t see. It takes a high tolerance for risk because for every yes that y’all see, there were at least five no’s.
What has been one of your proudest moments since creating Pholk?
I had a Juneteenth botanical social last year at Pholk Beauty Lab. We gathered around my workshop tables and made perfumes from honeysuckle, rose and jasmine. I chose those flowers because Black women had used them as perfume, for their hair and for love spells. To be able to combine my expertise as a Diaspora historian with my love for plant healing was a magical moment.
What can we expect in the future from Pholk?
We are lining up some pretty great retailers for Spring 2021 so expect to see us popping even more. Most exciting for me personally is that I am learning how to distill plant waters so that I can make manufacture honeysuckle and lemon balm hydrosols in house.
What advice would you give customers who want to make the most out of your brand?
Don’t be afraid to mist! And my beauty secret is that I use a face mist throughout the day and I almost always use oils in combination with a mist. It helps distribute the oil and keeps pores hydrated and clean.
How do you start your day?
I have several starts to my day. One for the kids and one for me. The one for the kids begins with coffee and long hugs in bed with the 9 and 11 year olds. Once they are set for school (now virtual school!) I head out to my backyard garden to hang with the plants.
Do you have a morning/evening ritual?
Every day is different. Lately, I have been doing lists of things that I want to attract in my life before I start to work. I want to see over the next month which desires repeat. Right now I’m not editing that process.
What is your daily skincare routine?
My skincare starts at night. I wash my face with the Glow Replenish face wash, follow it up with the Honeysuckle Rose Mist and finish with 2 drops of the H2Oil. In the morning I wipe my face with the Honeysuckle Rose Mist. If I’m having any kind of breakout or ingrown hairs I switch to the Aloe Lemon Balm. I finish with the Featherlight Skin Nectar on face and neck. 3 minutes and I’m done!
Do you have a daily wellness routine?
I think of wellness as just allowing myself to be where I’m at. That shit is hard, especially in these days when I am full-time parenting and full-time growing the biz. So, wellness to me means communicating with my staff when I have too much work or need to extend a deadline. It means delegating work tasks that I really shouldn’t be doing myself anyway and building a team that I trust. Oh, and I am absolutely obsessed with Serengeti Tea and Spices. I sooth myself with their full-bodied teas throughout the day. And I love taking virtual dance classes. My favorite studios are Cumbe, Fit4Dance and Ailey Extension. I’ve never been a yogi. I hate to say it but anytime someone would ask me if I took yoga they would get an eyeroll. But 2020 has been so dizzying and overwhelming that I started yoga and meditation and surprisingly…I love it. Lol Heal Haus and Stacked Yoga are my go-tos.
What is a beauty product or tool you can’t live without?
My fingers. Seriously, when you glide your fingers over your skin you can get a really in-depth idea of what’s going on with your skin. Second favorite is the Yubi Brush and Sponge. I use the brush with my face wash and also apply the Featherlight SkinNectar with the sponge. It literally takes 10 years off my face.
What do you do for R&R when you need to reboot?
Dance, hike, garden, Zoom with my sister circle and binge watch Insecure. I also cook a lot. There’s just something so satisfying about watching my kids devour my food. It’s the Kentucky in me.
What are your must haves when traveling?
Face mist for sure and the Werkacita Balm. I travel a lot. Iran, Turkey, India, Egypt, Morocco, all over Europe. Like a lot of Black travellers I get stared at. No matter where I’m going I take my statement pieces: a Hill & Valez upcycled denim jacket, Jam and Rico black and gold tassel earrings and my 84Gem white beaded earrings, my fuschia and teal headwrap by Cee Cee’s closet. I mean, let them stare while I live my life!
What selfcare advice would you have given yourself 5 years ago?
Trust your path and your timeline
Do you have any beauty/wellness advice for our followers?
Get to know your skin. When you approach your reflection, do it without judgment and lean in because it will tell you when it’s dehydrated, unbalanced, congested or irritated. Your skin is not a problem to solve. It protects you from the outside world and gives you clues as to what’s going on in your inner world.