Head of Education, House of Cheatham
The creator of the fastest growing brand for natural-textured hair shares the story behind the brand
Meet Dwan Vine White, intrapreneur and the creative force and architect behind Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils, the brand that IRI (the industry’s data authority) reveals, since 2018, has been the fastest growing brand for natural curls, coils and waves in the multi-cultural hair care segment.
As Vice-President of Global Marketing and Product Development at House of Cheatham White’s marketing and branding expertise, along with her personal hair journey led her to conceptualize and launch Aunt Jackie’s. White, who has been in the multi-cultural hair care industry for 17 years has developed and launched over 200 products throughout her career, under notable brands including the long-standing, Africa’s Best. She notes, “For so long there just weren’t options for women to manage their natural-texture. Social media introduced us to women documenting their ‘chemical to natural’ hair journeys for the world to see. This sharing of regimens and homemade, cocktailed products and styling techniques sparked the natural hair movement, which wonderfully disrupted everything.” White continues, “The big hair product brands either underestimated or ignored what was happening, believing that the attention on natural-textured hair was a trend, when instead, it was a rapidly accelerating movement.” White reveals that she wanted to transition from chemically relaxed hair to natural texture. Exploring the new culture of “Naturalistas,” she began to extensively examine the phenomenon. “I conducted lots of consumer research, trying to better understand the concerns of the texture community, finding out what they like, don’t like, wish they had, and how much they were willing to pay for what they wanted. I also became a serious YouTube voyeur, watching what the influencers were saying, using, and teaching their followers about hair care.”
White could relate to the intelligence she gathered, as she was just like the women she interviewed. “Going through the transition journey with other women gave me an awesome vantage point,” says White. “I cut off my chemically-straightened hair and started growing out my natural texture. I wanted to experience, in the way that others were, the day-to-day issues of managing coily hair.” White notes that like others along the journey, so many products fell short of her expectations. “That disappointment allowed me to be very specific with my product development team about what I wanted and expected from a product.” Between her personal experience, the insights she collected after interviewing over 1,000 women, and all that she learned from the hundreds of natural hair influencer videos she watched, in 2012, White incorporated those elements into a formula development and brand strategy, and launched Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils, a line of moisture-intensive hair therapies specifically for natural-textured curls, coils, kinks, and waves. To date, there are 30 Aunt Jackie’s products across 6 collections. “Each collection represents a different ingredient story with therapies that help solve major problems across the textured-hair spectrum.
Since its launch, Aunt Jackie’s has been sold globally in mass, drug, grocery, and beauty supply stores. White attributes performance, price, and crafting the consumer journey with the success of the brand. “The products are formulated to truly deliver on their promise, while branding focuses on uniting curlies and coilies around getting their texture needs met without breaking their wallet.” According to White, there was misalignment in what consumers could realistically afford to pay for products they want and what is available in retail. “The reality is that if ladies pay top dollar on a regular basis for hair care, eventually they’ll start looking for alternatives to free up their money for other things. The price is at a sweet spot – premium quality, but inexpensive enough for repeat purchases.” Aunt Jackie’s uses social media, expos and hair shows, and unique events to make everything about the brand highly informative and engaging for everyone within the texture community. The brand encourages women (and men) to enjoy their life experiences, while letting Aunt Jackie’s take care of their hair.” As for the brand name, smiling, she notes, “No, I don’t have an aunt named Jackie. I wanted the brand to have a personality, representing the kitchen beautician who cocktails natural ingredients in search of perfect, healthy hair blends. We either have, know of, or are an Aunt Jackie.”
Aunt Jackie’s Curls & Coils can be found in different varieties and sizes at: Target, Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, HEB, Family Dollar, Dollar General, Kroger, neighborhood beauty supply stores, and more. House of Cheatham is a privately held company, established in 1924 as a personal care and grooming products manufacturer. Its portfolio includes 11 brands of hair and skin care products sold in over 30 countries. Dwan Vine White is a marketing professional and brand architect & curator, with 17 years of experience in the ethnic & multi-cultural hair care industry, currently serving as Cheatham’s Vice President of Global Marketing & Product Development. She’s a graduate of Florida Memorial University in Miami, FL (BS) and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL (MA). She is a member of the CMO Council, American Marketing Association, Association of National Advertisers, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, and a regular guest contributor to Sophisticates Hairstyle Guide and Sophisticates Black Hair magazines. In 2017, she was named among the 2018 “33 Headliners of the Year” by Sophisticates Black Hair Magazine.