Jamelia Donaldson is the founder and CEO of @TreasureTress — Europe’s largest monthly product discovery subscription service for girls and women with kinky-curly hair and also the co-creator of The Teen Experience, a monthly workshop series which offers black and mixed race teen girls personal development skills and more.
Since launching in 2015, with a huge online community, and an active and thriving offline presence, Treasure Tress has proven that natural hair and black sisterhood can truly go hand in hand.
While delivering monthly haircare packages to over 26 countries monthly, TreasureTress has grown to become much more than ‘just a subscription box’ now managing UK’s upcoming influencers, building digital campaigns for brands, consulting the largest ethnic beauty brands and hosting the most spoken about offline activations for and by black women in the UK’s major cities including their Annual Pop Up Shop.
Jamelia has been featured in Forbes, Buzzfeed, Gal-Dem, Good Housekeeping and Pride Magazine just to name a few. Jamelia has recently launched #ShesObsessedThePodcast to highlight the experiences of successful and game changing Black British Women and in 2019 was named one of Ad Age Europe’s Women to Watch.
Jamelia, thanks so much for joining us! Please tell us a more about your brand. Why did you start TreasureTress? What was the inspiration behind it?
I launched TreasureTress because I was bored of the typical hair shop experience. I found it uninspiring and substandard compared to mainstream beauty shopping experiences. There is a huge difference between mainstream shops and shops which cater specifically to women with kinky curly hair and dark skin – and it shouldn’t be this way. I wanted finding new products to be fun, and I also wanted to share information I had learned with women who looked like me.
Not the mention, the fact that I wanted young black girls to grow up understanding their hair was beautiful, manageable and fun. I didn’t want my nieces or girls who looked like them thinking their hair was undesirable as I did, at their age.
You are so right about it being a totally different experience, finding good products for curly hair is so hard, especially here in the UK! What would you say your aim is as a brand?
My ultimate mission is to redefine black beauty and normalise natural hair. Growing up I genuinely thought straight hair was the best hair to have, and I was under the impression that it was impossible for black girls to grow healthy long hair. Then I discovered YouTube and it all changed. This knowledge I had encouraged me to help other women.
Biggest achievement - successfully navigating COVID-19 (to date) and growing the team and moving (and upgrading) our workspace at the same time.
We have found that behind every natural, there's a story...we would love to hear yours!
I went through various stages with my hair. At a young age I was extremely creative with braided styles and used to charge others to do their hair on weekend and in school breaks.
Then I decided natural hair made me look ‘young’ and to look more ‘grown up’ in my teen years I straightened my hair until it was brutally heat damaged and completely unable to curl let alone wave!
During university I embarked on my natural hair journey and it completely transformed the health of my hair but also allowed me to embark on a personal journey which ultimately let me to founding TreasureTress and wanting to share all that I’d learned with others.
So many people fall into the trap of heat damage and thinking straight hair is the way to go, but honestly healthy hair needs to be our aim. It's wonderful to see that from your experiences came a brand that's helping so many others embrace their natural hair! How have you been coping as a brand with Covid-19?
We’ve completely filled our subscription spaces and so we’re now focused on servicing our waitlist which grew pretty quickly throughout the first lockdown.
It also impacted our supply chain, products were stuck on the other side of the pond for some time due to COVID, factories and manufacturing plants closed which obviously had a knock on effect on us. What ever you can think of - we probably endured during the first wave!
Congratulations on making it this far, surviving the worst, I know it's not easy. What has this experience/2020 taught you?
PIVOT PIVOT PIVOT and get used to doing it!
My ultimate mission is to redefine black beauty and normalise natural hair.
I hear that! Change is inevitable, its always about how you deal with it. What would you say is your biggest achievement? Biggest Challenge?
Biggest achievement - successfully navigating COVID-19 (to date) and growing the team and moving (and upgrading) our workspace at the same time. At the same time our biggest challenge has been the global pandemic - COVID! How could I even dare mention anything else in comparison to this!
It's the biggest truth, Covid was a challenge we never saw coming but are all grateful to have pushed through. It's custom on the Asikara blog to find out something interesting about our featured bloggers...what's one thing about you that will surprise our readers?
I hate my food touching, in particular foods I have for breakfast. For example if I have ordered pancakes and it comes with fruit, I need the fruit to be on a separate plate to avoid my pancakes getting soggy!
As crazy as it sounds, I guess you do have a point. Soggy pancakes, I usually just grin and bear it. Last of all, how can we keep in touch with you?
Follow and engage with @treasuretress
Keep in touch with me on my instagram page @jameliaisobsessed
We know 2020 has been a tough one for us all but guess what, we are still standing! What has been your biggest achievement this year? What has been your biggest challenge? Drop us a comment below