#MoxieFriday is an interview series showcasing women, including twentysomething and millennials, who live in MOXIE throughout their professional and personal lives. These women show up for themselves, others, and make sure they're impacting the womanhood they see around them + on social media.
This month, I'm featuring natural hair phenomenal and one of the sweetest woman ever, Julian Addo. Residing in Dallas, Julian is responsible for creating one of the biggest natural hair expos and adding to the diverse line-up of natural hair products, which constantly fulfills her mission of controlling the narrative she wants to see.
Keep reading to learn more about Julian!
Tell us about yourself and your brands.
First, thank you for being interested in me and validating my work. I am so honored!!
I am the founder of Bella Kinks, a digital media agency for beauty brands; The Bella Kinks Expo, an annual consumer trade show for the natural beauty industry; and my latest venture, adwoa beauty. I am from NYC, by way of Liberia, West Africa and I reside in Dallas, Texas currently with my family. I’m a Cancer, a true Cancer, so that says enough lol.
We briefly met at the Bella Kinks expo in Dallas, and I absolutely admired the work that went into it - what was your inspiration to start a natural hair expo?
I wanted to provide the people of Dallas with the same access and resources of great brands, CEOs, influencers, and a day of fellowship that I saw happening in other U.S. cities. I couldn’t understand why Dallas, as large and as diverse as it is, wasn’t having inclusive events in the beauty arena for people of color. It is difficult to get a large number of our people to rally support in Dallas. We are the biggest show, especially with natural hair, but in comparison to other cities and our minority population, we're not big at all. Y'all are tough here lol, but I am not giving up.
How did you get your start in the hair industry?
Hair and beauty have always been a part of my life. I started doing hair when I was 13 years old because I hung around with one of the neighborhood hairstylists and gleaned some skills from her. When I was 14, I enrolled at Ralph R. Ackee Vocational High School to study cosmetology for free. I graduated at 17 with my NYS license. I opened two salons in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota by the time I was 21, then sold them in 2004 to go into Corporate America full-time. I did that because I wanted a change, health benefits, and tuition reimbursement lol.
Overall, I really thrived from the comrade and trust that women gave me when they sat in my chair. They had NO idea I was that young; they talked to me about personal things, and I counseled them. I just love, and always have, being able to connect and help people, naturally. *pun intended* lol
Dallas is one of my favorite cities ever. How does this amazing city play a factor in the natural hair community?
I love Dallas. All I see since I coming here is opportunity. It’s a tough city because folks are set in their ways and it's so spread out because it's a big state. But I still see the potential. It’s beautiful, affordable, and convenient location wise. You can get to most major cities very quickly from Dallas.
As far as the natural hair community, we’ve done some work, but there’s still a lot of work to do. We have to do more educating and empowering. That’s why I created adwoa beauty - I needed my own platform and full control to create what we need. I was not going to be able to do that with other brands via sponsorships. I needed the autonomy as well as the capital. We will do some really amazing and fun things in our downtown showroom, opening any day now.
Adwoa Beauty, by far, is one of the BEST natural hair brands I’ve ever used. I immediately fell in love after the first time I used it and recently reviewed it on the blog. From the branding, packaging, and ingredients itself, what inspired this?
OH MY GOD! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! adwoa beauty is a labor of LOVE! I was so scared of creating this product because I put my ALL *literally* into it. I want everyone to love it even though I know it’s impossible to make that happen since natural hair is all about pH balance and body chemistry. But we’ve had really amazing feedback so far, and we're not even really known like that yet. As I stated earlier, I created adwoa beauty for SO many reasons and to further advance my mission.
I could not find ANY natural hair or beauty brand catered to black people that spoke to me from a brand’s perspective (clean, modern, and kinky). Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing products on the market; when it came to branding, core values and its mission, there wasn’t any brands I felt spoke to me as a person or showed the diverse nature of our community. I wanted to see “top shelf,” clean, diversity, and transparency.
In working with so many brands, I noticed they put all black people in a box and sell products to us all the same way. We are different, and we have different needs and lifestyles that I didn’t see represented or addressed, even from black-owned brands. We are gay, straight, dark, light, fat, skinny, disabled, kinky, curly, etc., and adwoa beauty addresses all of that in our campaigns without exploiting us.
What has been the most rewarding + challenging moments of developing this hair product brand?
What wasn’t challenging? Lol everything was stressful, especially when you are funding a business like this yourself and don’t have a check or big loans to help. But I took my time with it, and problem solved every step of the way until I got to where it needed to be. Now we are doing a lot of business, and it is hard to keep up with the volume mainly because I have chosen to bootstrap my business as opposed to selling equity to a 3rd party for cash. Because of this, I have to sell products to create more products which cause long delays that customers obviously do not like. Also, our packaging is custom and gets shipped from overseas.
Right now it’s just growing pains, but we will get through it without having to sell out. It’s good (and bad) thing for business. Three years down the line, I will look back and remember these times though. For me, I REALLY enjoy the entrepreneurship journey much more than the actual destination. I like the climb and learning through it all.
Your Instagram account is so humbling and inspiring to see. How do you stay so authentic when it’s easy to portray an unrealistic life on social media?
Really? I am 39 years old and have lived a full life before Instagram. I am from Africa, grew up in a ghetto in NYC, and made it to where I am from tons of grind and hard work, my mother and my grandmother’s prayers. I don’t have any interest in leading a life that doesn’t serve me or others. All that other stuff just causes unnecessary stress.
I am open to receiving love, wealth, and health when I walk in my truth with God by my side. I don’t know how else to be. Ask anyone that knows me - I am the same person I have always been. I think a lot of the other stuff is just folks' insecurities to impress other people. I do not have those hang-ups to impress. I have always been in the underdog position, and I am fine with that. I don’t know - I am just me.
When it comes to executing ideas, creatives know we have to start - what are some tips, advice, or words of encouragement you used while creating your brands?
To always know your “WHY” for creating them. When you know YOUR why, you will stay on course and be much more successful and happy with the journey. When the disappointments and rejections come, your “WHY” will be your rod and your staff to comfort you. Otherwise, the world will give you want it wants, and that doesn’t always line up with what YOU want. I know my why for being here, and I am not wavering. Ultimately, a purposeful life comes with a lot of pain and triumph.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be successful?
Oh boy, where do I start lol? Ok here’s a recent one: to fund adwoa beauty (and the bella kinks expo), I sold my house in Little Elm and slept on my mother’s couch for 2+ years in her one-bedroom apartment. I helped her with rent and saved up the rest of my money. I moved downtown in July 2017 before launching adwoa beauty in October. Everything right now is a sacrifice and being cured back into the business to grow. I have not been on any type of vacation in over five years. There will be plenty of time for that later. Right now I am on a mission, so my entire life is a sacrifice. I have not dated in over five years. That’s actually pretty sad lol, but dating is a distraction for me.
How would you describe your moxie (force of character, energy, pep, know-how)?
I am intuitive, and I trust myself completely. If I feel like someone or something isn’t right for me, I don’t move on it, even if I do not know just why yet. I don’t care what anyone else is doing; I make all of my own moves, on my own time. No one rushes my process, not even me.
Give us an example of how you would like to inspire the force, nature, and creativity of womanhood in five years?
I want people to see me and know that they too can do it! You can be the underdog, with no support and still overcome. I will lead by example instead of bragging and boasting. You’ll see more soon - Julian 2.0.
Lastly, leave a favorite book recommendation for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners. Tell us why it’s your favorite?
Outwitting The Devil by Napolean Hill is my all-time favorite book. You have to listen to the audio (free on YouTube), but it helped me in so many ways. I go back and listen to it twice a year. It’s really introspective and will help you see possible ways you could be standing in your own way, which is beneficial in life as well as in business. You and your readers should check it out.
Thank you so much, Julian, for this interview. I enjoyed these responses and can relate to them as well.
You can find Julian + her brands on social! If you're looking for great quality and GREAT natural hair products to use, definitely check out Adwoa Beauty's website. I guarantee you'll love it as much as I do!
If you or someone you know would like to be featured in this series, please email me or fill out this form!
This lifestyle and beauty blog - created for twentysomething millennial women - inspires, empowers, and adds moxie to womanhood. Women will have a space to learn how to flourish from past mistakes and daily issues, while gaining insight on other topics.
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