Dominican-American Beauty Maven Disrupting Eurocentric Standards Of Haircare With Her Brand Pink Root

Mariel Mejia, founder of Pink Root products

Most hair products available on the market today are geared toward helping you tame your mane, especially on those “bad hair days”. But it’s time for a new message! Because what this marketing strategy does is reinforce that the hair we have is not good enough without spending a tonne of money on products.

One woman who was tired of what she saw decided to create something that would appeal to people, especially women, who want a product that doesn’t change or “fix” their hair, but work with it and enhance its natural beauty. In fact, Pink Root products, created by New Yorker Mariel Mejia who has Dominican heritage, doesn’t believe in “bad hair”, just bad hair care.

Pink Root Products are aimed at the everyday woman who is just trying to keep her hair healthy and manageable throughout the week so wash day doesn’t become such a drag. Styling products keep your hair hydrated and tangle-free for days on end making life easier and your hair routine a lot lighter. The products are naturally pink in color which was achieved by incorporating Alkanet Root powder into their formulas. Another key aspect of the brand that sets them apart from the rest is their commitment to making products without the use of harsh chemicals, and keeping our consumers health in mind when creating formulas.

Mariel wants to change the narrative of the natural hair industry, which has traditionally been focused on teaching women how to straighten or relax naturally curly hair. This typically Eurocentric beauty standard doesn’t serve the best interests of all consumers, and Pink Root are making sure they offer something to those looking for something different.

We spoke with Mariel about her own hair care journey, her entrepreneurship path, and how she hopes Pink Root will empower others to embrace their hair.

Tell us about the inspiration behind Pink Root products and why you decided to create this brand:

I created Pink Root Products as a result of years of hair damage from constantly straightening and relaxing my hair. I was feeling extremely self conscious and my self esteem was at an all time low because my hair wouldn’t grow and was thinner than ever. I decided that what I was currently doing was obviously not working so it was time to see what the natural lifestyle was about. As I started trying new things out, I felt that the products in stores weren’t helpful for my transitioning hair type and were more catered to women who were already living their best curly life so I started making my own. I needed something that would help me on my journey and get my hair back to a healthy state.

As an Afro-Latina woman, what were some of the most frustrating aspects of your personal hair care journey growing up?

The most frustrating part about my journey growing up in a Dominican-American community was the lack of representation across Latin media for women like me with hair like mine. Eurocentric beauty standards run rampant in my culture as it does in many others so growing up all I knew was that my hair was “bad,” difficult to maintain, and should always be straightened. Breaking myself out of this cycle was hard because it’s tradition that once you come of age, you can get a relaxer so it was really something that was deeply rooted in all of us. Deciding to finally stop damaging my hair to fulfill a societal norm was the hardest part of it all because you have to change the relationship that you have with your hair.

Why has there been such a gap in the beauty market for products specifically marketed to Black and Brown women’s hair?

I think the big gap has always been there because the media along with big beauty companies have always pushed an image of straight hair being the ultimate goal. And even when having curly hair started to become more of a norm, there was always a specific loose curly hair type that was more desirable and heavily marketed so there was never enough focus on Black and Brown women, especially those with types 4b and 4c hair. Companies didn’t view this demographic as a profitable market before so they didn’t bother catering to these audiences.

Can you share what the reaction has been since launching Pink Root, and how it feels to have your product finally out there in the world?

I had actually started Pink Root Products back in 2015 but had no clue what I was doing and was still trying to finish college so I decided to stop and take time to rebrand the company. The reaction to the relaunch of Pink Root Products has been very rewarding because we’re being recognized by blogs, media outlets, influencers, professionals, etc. that would have overlooked us in the past. It feels great to have something that I am building on everyday and I feel really excited about growing with my brand.

There is a growing movement to embrace natural hair and disrupt the narrow standards of beauty all round. What are your thoughts on this, and how does Pink Root play a role in helping dismantle those norms?

The natural hair movement is about so much more than just hair. It’s about changing the way you view yourself and ignoring all of society’s pressures when it comes to how you should look. It really is a journey of self discovery and finding new ways of putting yourself back in control of your self image. The way we play a role in this is by not only creating a product that will keep your hair healthy but also creating a community where everyone feels welcome. We love to host events where we can get together and kind of just express our own experiences with our journeys, share tips, and talk about different aspects of having natural hair.

What are the actual ingredients that make Pink Root products pink?

The ingredients that make our products pink in color are Alkanet root powder mixed with olive oil. That’s it! One day I was testing out products and came across this video where people used different natural powders to make their soaps colorful so I wanted to try it out. It looked so cute after the first couple of trials so I just stuck with it. We centered the brand around the color and it has really helped our products pop.

What is your mission with your brand, and what is your message to people who will use this?

Our brand mission is to make products that don’t just hold a style but that really nourish your hair so it can look and feel better long term. There are a lot of products on the market that use many fillers or chemicals to make up their formulas but we take our time with developing each product so you can truly benefit from it. Our message is very simple, “we don’t believe in bad hair, just bad hair care.” We want every woman out there to develop a hair routine that truly works for them so they can enjoy their curls and learn to work with them instead of trying to manipulate them to fit someone else’s standards.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who see a problem or a gap in the market and want to create something to fix it?

My advice is to create something that you fully stand behind. You should aim to fix a problem that you yourself have experienced this way you know your audience and market inside out.