Promoting growth inside and out. That’s what entrepreneur Ariel Butler says her natural hair wellness brand Shea Adé can do for its users. The Western High School graduate says her products are the “impetus for healing hair along with hearts and minds.” The 28-year-old said the company’s ‘roots’ go back to her days as a student at Morgan State University.
“This company was born when I was a student at Morgan,” said Butler who graduated in 2016 with a Civil Engineering Degree. “I didn’t have enough money to purchase my own natural hair care products, so I started making them for myself and my friends. A lot of my friends kept saying, ‘you should sell your products.’ That was the beginning stage of the company.”
Shea Adé (pronounced Shay Ah-Day) offers products whose names seek to reinforce positive thinking. The products include ‘I am enough’ Refreshing Tonic; ‘I am free’ Herbal Hair Growth; ‘I choose happiness’ Whipped Shea & Mango Butter; and ‘I radiate beauty’ Perfect Twist Curl Crème.
“The names of my products are affirmations because I really want customers to see one of our products in their medicine cabinet and subconsciously think, ‘Oh yeah, I am like choosing happiness today’ or ‘I am free’, or ‘I am enough’” said Butler. “I want people to feel amazing about their hair and celebrate being Black people…our hair…our textures…and our struggles.”
Butler, who is a native of Maryland, talked about her products.
“We use only high-quality, natural ingredients to hydrate, repair and grow kinky and quality hair textures,” said Butler. “This is a brand that is specifically made for Black men and Black women with kinky and quality textures. So, it was very important for me to make a brand where Black men and women are celebrated for their kinky hair. These products also take the guesswork out of achieving your hair goals.”
She added, “The superstar ingredient I like to use is Aloe Vera juice. I hear a lot of Black people say, “My hair is so dry.’ We believe we need more oil or more grease because that’s how we were raised. But in actuality, we need more water. I use either water or Aloe Vera juice in my products. One of my star products is my Refreshing Tonic. It’s a daily refreshing spray that you wake up and spray on your hair to keep it hydrated and moist.”
Butler said her mother Serena Williams is a longtime Baltimore hairstylist.
“I do come from an engineering background,” said Butler. “I believe my products allow me to flex my engineering skills, because I do my own chemical formulations for them. I was basically raised in a hair salon. My mother has been a hairstylist for a few decades, so I was always exposed to hair. Shea Adé is actually a reflection of my story, my love for hair, and my engineering background.”
While Butler vividly recalls growing up in a hair salon, she believes everyone has a unique ‘hair story.’
“Every man remembers his first haircut, and every woman remembers getting their first perm or going to their auntie’s house or the home of another family member to get their hair done,” said Butler. “Everybody has their own hair stories, and it’s important for me to make light of those stories and celebrate them.”
Butler said she sells her products full-time, taking a “leap of faith” and leaving her engineering job to dedicate her time to her business.
“I’ve been doing this full-time for six months,” she said. “It’s been great. The feedback has been incredible. It’s been amazing to see my journey from a student in her dorm room mixing up stuff for my hair to making my own chemical formulations.”
Butler said she lived in Chicago for a period of time and moved back to Baltimore last summer.
“Chicago is where my brand really started to take off,” said Butler.
Butler said Shea Adé products are sold online, and that she also sells them at pop-up shops throughout the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia areas.
“I am also looking to see how I can get my products into stores, such as small boutiques,” said Butler. “I want this brand to help shape the way we feel about ourselves. I am also transitioning into making this brand more of a lifestyle. Every month this year, I’m hosting a different event such as a dance class, book club, or photo shoot training session. The goal is to encourage confidence in my customers and in the community.”
For more information about Shea Adé or to purchase products, visit sheaade.com.