Women of Wednesday: Tosi Ufodike on Self-Love, Good Hair, and Small Business

Olivia A. Cole
Dec 14, 2016 · 4 min read

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY is a bi-weekly micro-interview series featuring women of color in various industries and walks of life, focused on highlighting their pursuits and making it easy for readers to support their endeavors. If you would like to be featured, please submit your answers to the below five questions here.

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Tosi Ufodike, 40, Wife, Mom, Naturalista, Founder of HairYum Vegan Haircare

1. Tell us about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.

The work I am doing is powerful and rewarding. HairYum Vegan Haircare centers around self-love through love of natural hair. I started HairYum Vegan Haircare less than two years ago because I saw the need for vegan, non-toxic haircare products for natural hair. I spent money on a supposedly “natural” hair product and my youngest daughter ended up in the ER due to a horrible allergic reaction from the chemicals in the product. The next day — HairYum was born. As a Mom raising two Black girls in a world that is not always full of praise for Black women, it was very important for me to show them all the beauty they have within, starting with their hair. HairYum Vegan Haircare’s mission is to spread hair love and self-confidence. We emphasize all hair is good hair and we hope to help girls and women of all ages believe our message.

2. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?

Great question. The biggest challenge I had was stepping out on faith. I was scared. I had worked for an amazing company for over 17 years and felt the safety in a steady check. Yet I was not fulfilled or mentally challenged, and I knew there was so much more to life. I knew that real ownership and wealth is found through small business ownership. I knew what I had to do but I was fearful of the unknown. Then, I prayed to God to help things move. And God moved swiftly, parting with Corporate America was a gift at the perfect time.

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3. What do you need in order to continue your work in the way you envision?

I need support. Being a woman of color with limited resources and smaller marketing budgets is very hard. I am competing against some of the big beauty giants. At HairYum, we put 110% in everything we do: from the smell of our amazing products, to the touch points we have with the customers, we want every experience to be positive. My family tests the products, we don’t test on animals. We live what we sell, we are proud of our hair journey and how far the HairYum brand has grown organically. Representation matters, often times I am in a room full of decision-makers and I am the only woman. And the only woman of color. When I deal with beauty shop owners about stocking HairYum, it is rarely with someone who looks like me. So I am trying to share the vision of why HairYum, a company started by a woman of color, serves all customers.

4. Where and how can we support you to make #3 happen?

Please give HairYum a try. We are a small business, with big dreams. We want to touch lives by making the customer experience powerful and memorable. Our message is simple: healthy hair starts with hair love. Our long-term goal is to help girls from New Orleans to Lagos, Nigeria know that no matter their color or hair texture, their hair is a gift from God and it is beautiful. They are beautiful. We share this message daily on Twitter and Facebook. It is an important message that women of color need to hear daily. You are beautiful: your hair, skin, and color.

5. What is your favorite quote?

Nothing is over until you stop trying — this is my favorite quote, my mantra. Most people give up in life way to soon, whether they want to lose 10 pounds, or start a business — when they hit one roadblock, they stop. I hope by seeing my journey they realize, never to give up on a dream or your life’s purpose. Keep trying. Keep pushing. Your turn is coming.

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