My name is Kendra Charles and I am the founder and co-owner of Habesha, a 100% plant based line of cosmetics for hair skin care.
I was born on the Caribbean Island of Saint Lucia, I was raised in the capital city of Castries, my parents however, were raised in the country side. Growing up, I was always intrigued by the way my mother seemed to instinctively resort to the use herbs, leaves, roots and flowers. There was always a solution which could be derived from the natural world, among trees and plants, when she didn’t know, she would ask my great grandmother. At the central market women would lay out baskets, filled with these herbs, leaves, roots, tree barks and petals, what we refer to collectively as ‘bush medicine’. This was part of our culture.
At this same time in the Caribbean, many women also wore their hair in its natural state and did not iron it out with perms and hot combs. I had always enjoyed styling hair, I learnt to do it well, and consequently, I became my neighborhood’s hair stylist. As time went on, perms steadily became more popular as more people found it easier to manage straight hair. I too was taken by the allure of straight hair, but not for long. My first perm was at the age of 14, and at the age of 17 I transitioned back to natural.
I migrated to the United States in 2005, I flew into New York and lived in Brooklyn. I have always had an intrigue for naturopathy. I was raised to understand that there was always a solution in nature, and in Brooklyn I had come to know of many more herbs and botanicals than I was previously aware of.
I moved to Texas and settled in Dallas. Whilst there I applied my hairstyling skills and began to grow my clientele as a natural hair stylist. Being a hair stylist caused me to become familiar with many of the various hair and scalp issues which women face daily. In an effort to address some of these issues, I went to work on a few special plant based solutions which can be used as a complete hair care regimen. Today I craft, package, and distribute these solutions as Habesha Hand Crafted.
It has been 5 years since I decided to investigate our fauna as a viable means of taking better care of our person. I have learnt much, as a hair stylist, a curator, and a business woman, and I am still learning. I consider myself a bona fide member of the ‘go natural’ movement, Habesha Hand Crafted is simply an expression of my way of life.
The road has been a rough one. When I first started, I had no business experience and did not understand fully well the specific industry I was getting into. I did not have the capital to finance my project and I was still a hair stylist and a mother of 2. Its takes a lot to get a brand off the ground. Its takes even more when you’re not sure how to do it. So, I did my research, I made mistakes, I paid for them, and each time I messed up I started again.
In the natural community there are different types of naturals. Habesha Crafted is to us, a holistic brand. We are not simply natural, we are a vegan, handmade brand. This means that we do not out source our production, every product is made in our studio. Our brand name, Habesha, refers to Ethiopia, it is said that mankind originated there. Our brand image is influenced by the Caribbean and American sub culture where there exists an appreciation for Africa. Our market, our appeal is broad, but Habesha is meant to reflect the vibrancy of this culture.