Combining the beauty of black women with the essence of nature is what small business owner and Beaufort, South Carolina native Pamela J. Booker values the most through her natural hair care line, Koils By Nature.
Booker, who is also the founder and CEO of Koils by Nature, is making big steps in the new year by launching her products in Target stores to celebrate women of African descent with coily, kinky hair.
From hair to makeup, the entrepreneur combines amazing, natural ingredients to highlight the beauty of Black women through her multifaceted company.
“It feels amazing because there are a lot of hair care companies out there, but a lot of them are not in Target,” Booker said. “For it to be an African-American woman owned, veteran owned company in Target, it’s really big. I’m excited and so afraid at the same time.”
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Booker established her hair care line in 2009 purely out of necessity. Booker went natural in 2007. There were not a lot of products on the market for natural hair during that time.
“I was still working as a computer engineer at the time for the federal government,” Booker said. “I would look crazy at work and I started researching how could I fix my hair. I started using some of the natural products that were on the market and they would work, but they would work only for a short period of time.”
Booker started mixing ingredients on her own, just as her best friend was doing at the time since they were both natural. But, it wasn’t until one day at her job at the U.S. International Trade Commision where she witnessed her fellow colleague with a slab of shea butter on his desk from Ghana.
“He told me about shea butter and the women in the village and how they earn money and their part of cooperative,” Booker said. “They imported it through Florida and he was giving me all of this information. I told my best friend and I was like, ‘Listen I got the hook up on some shea butter. You mixing some stuff up. I can mix some stuff up. Let's start a company. Let's do this’.”
Booker began creating the company with her best friend and a fellow colleague. She was more eager than they were since she found it as a way to leave her job. They lasted about three or four months and she eventually let them go. By that time, she already created a name and logo for her brand. Booker quit her job in November of 2009 and her website for Koils by Nature launched in February 2010.
“I started off in my kitchen in Temple Hills, Maryland and I moved from my kitchen to my basement,” Booker said.
Booker read many books and did months of research during the beginning stages, not only to learn about how to launch her company, but to determine what ingredients she wanted to use in her products.
“That is like one of the essential things that entrepreneurs need to do to know their industry,” Booker said. “Through all of that research, I became an expert in my field. I Googled things like the difference between corn oil and soybean oil and what could be absorbed. It took a lot of research for me to find out all of that information.”
That process was important for Booker because back then there weren’t any YouTube videos out there to reference.
“That was essential for me because it gave me the information and the knowledge that I needed in women trusting me,” Booker added. “That trust factor was there when I was able educate them on hair care and what we need for our hair.”
She gives credit to her support system for reaching such a big milestone. Her family and community were there for her since the beginning.
“My community supported me when I was just getting my feet wet,” Booker said. “That’s why everything that I do with Koils by Nature, I’m going to give back to my community because I am where I am because of them.”
“They trusted me and that trust means everything to me,” Booker added.
Target was initially interested in Koils by Nature back in 2012 when Booker was working out of her basement, but she didn’t think it was a good decision to move too quickly.
She had some friends that sold their first round of products in Target, but some are not on the shelves anymore. Bookser said one of the reasons why is because there is a specific amount of time to re-up on orders. Since she had a small business, she wanted to take the time to make sure she had the adequate space and the right amount of employees. They continued to contact her every year and in 2017 she was prepared.
“I wanted to make sure that I was ready,” Booker said. “That’s why I say do it because you can, and not because that’s what everybody else is doing. I just wanted to make sure the supply could keep up with the demand. If you have an empty shelf and you’re not re-upping your order and have empty shelf space, they will replace you.”
Booker also admitted that fear held her back for launching Koils by Nature in Target in 2016.
“Sometimes I struggle with a fear of success because of where I come from and my very humble beginnings,” Booker said. I grew up very country. The best living ever. So being from my community, I was kind of afraid of success for some reason. Then I had to get over myself and 2017 came.”
From that experience, she learned the lesson that faith and fear hold the same amount of energy. The difference is one is negative and the other is positive. She had to start believing in herself.
Booker realized that she was put on earth to do this and that was the dream that God put in her heart. Along with that realization, support from her husband, and getting out of her head, she was finally ready.
But, what she is most excited about for her launch is witnessing her family’s reaction. Booker is looking forward to to seeing their selfies with her products back in her hometown Beaufort, South Carolina.
Since her family and her hometown is the true motivation for what kept her going after eight years, she also wants her business to leave a legacy to not only honor her ancestors but also her children.
“I am what they call Gullah Geechee people so my fourth generation grandfathers were slaves on both sides and they were both from South Carolina,” Booker said. “ My family has over 60 acres of land that was bought by my fourth generation grandfather who was a slave.”
“That's my land and they left me something,” Booker added. “Even if its a piece of land, an acre, it is mine. I want to be able to leave my children and my great-grandchildren and my grandchildren something and this is something that I want to leave for them.”
The entrepreneur also wants to teach her children that ownership equates to freedom in this country.
“When you own your own business, when you own your own warehouse, when you own land, that is freedom,” Booker said. “That can take you so much further than anything else and I want them to value what I built for them and I want them to see the value in it and appreciate it and keep carrying it on.”
“Other major corporations started as family-owned businesses,” she added. “Bronner Brothers and Johnson & Johnson are still family owned businesses. I want to show them the value of their own, being independent and show them how to give back to the community and build some type of wealth for themselves.”
Koils by Nature will be launching in select Target stores around the U.S. on Jan. 28th. Products include conditioners and butters that can be used for both their hair and skin. All of the products are vegan and cruelty-free. Some ingredients included in the products are shea butter, argan oil, aloe vera juice and Jamaican castor oil.
“They are going to expect some amazing goodness,” Booker said. “Especially with the conditioners because they are amazing. Our leave-in conditioner has amazing slip. It has mango powder, elm roots and marshmallow roots. Just goodness. All of it. I'm very excited and I just can't wait to see it on the shelves.”
This post is brought to you in collaboration with Koils By Nature.