MIRIAM Felix certainly knows how to do business. The proprietor of ‘Black & Daring’ turns heads wherever she goes and for her, it’s simply effortless. The 45-year-old joined the hair care business a mere three years ago and already she’s transforming the lives of women (and men) everywhere.
Miriam, who’s rocked her natural hair all her life, told The VOICE that she loves her job and wouldn’t change it for a thing.
“Black & Daring is a space created for black people specifically women with natural hair; it’s basically a line of products to help with your hair so you can get products like moisturizers, deep conditions, shampoos, hair oils, etc. All these products help with your growth, shine, moisture, scalp issues (and more),” she told us in an interview last week.
She can vividly remember her childhood ‘trauma’. Back then a young Miriam sobbed whenever her mother tugged at her stubborn hair—it’s the story of every black girl and I knew it all too well.
“Black & Daring actually came about with me having challenges with my own hair and because of my frustrations I decided to try and find help for myself. I started to experiment and do my research and then I realized a lot of Saint Lucian women were also going natural. They (wanted to know) how I managed and so there an idea was formed and I began to create the products,” the entrepreneur said.
She continued: “When I started off I remembered being young. My mom used to comb me and I used to cry because I had sensitive scalp. She would try her best to detangle (my hair) and (would also) try and comfort me. When I had these challenges as an adult I said you know what, let me go back to what we used before so for me it was really going back to my roots and getting (the things that worked).”
Miriam discovered a whole new world and from there life changed completely.
“(I use various things) coconut oil, castor oil, molasses, aloes, (you name it). I have a cactus shampoo, a hibiscus shampoo—hibiscus leaves works really well in softening and giving the hair a shine (and a number of other products). I derive most of my products locally,” she added.
Kicking off her business was no easy feat. It’s something many entrepreneurs have to deal with and only some come out on the other side. Thankfully Miriam did.
“It was a struggle for me because having two boys (at the time I was a single parent already) and being able to raise the finance to start I could not have done that. I started from next to nothing but I had a passion for it and I had persons who believed in me. Saint Lucian women trusted that I knew what I was doing and so from the get-go, even if I didn’t have the money I had the customers; I had that community of people around me rooting for me. It was difficult to start off and then again it was something (that was) almost new because not many persons are doing hair products, but I knew that God would help me,” the Black & Daring creator revealed.
“I used to sell on the Boulevard; I had my deep condition in a container and (some other things) and I was actually taking it from the container with a spoon and putting it into another container for the customers. There was this lady who was selling next to me and she said that’s the first time she saw somebody come with a product that’s local and persons were buying it like that. (Even then) persons were buying from me and that really touched me. I’m very much appreciative,” she said sincerely.
Miriam loves her customers and she also loves getting great feedback as it truly makes her job worthwhile.
“What I enjoy is somebody coming to me and actually telling me about their hair issues which I had and being able to tell them try that and I can guarantee it will work for you. I love that and (also) that they would come back and tell me that it worked really well. I know it may seem small but hair can be a lot of stress especially when it starts to break and you don’t know what to do about it. I’m happy that I can help women to even boost their self-esteem; men also, because I have the oils at the barbershops in Castries and it sells really well. The men use it for the very same scalp issues, bald patches, eczema, dandruff and (they get) very good results,” she added.
Miriam believes black women should appreciate their natural beauty. According to her, it’s everything.
“I want to encourage women to embrace their natural look and embrace being black. I’m thinking in the future I would like to have a community of women that when we come together we can talk about ourselves; how to empower ourselves, how to grow as women, how to be vulnerable in certain instances, all these things. For me it would be going into that other line of work where it’s part of my business, but then I have that empowering part of it in a bigger way,” she stated.
She continued: “Recently I began to fulfill another passion of mine (which is) writing. I started a series entitled ‘My Black’. I’ve done volume one which is ‘Village and Me’; Volume 2 will be ‘My Black: A Matter of Traditions’. It will be up on Amazon (this week) and so it’s also a book where you find it has a lot to do with traditions, family values, culture, identity, etc.”
Miriam’s a wonderful woman with a quiet spark. Her radiant personality’s hard to miss and it’s a plus for business. She hails from the village of Dennery and believes that though her family struggled financially, she was rich in every way.
“(My parents were) farmers. (There were) eight girls at that time so it was more like whatever is too small for me would fit my sister (and vice versa). We’d eat what we get and we were taught to be content; whatever you have you bless it and you eat. I would say we were poor, but I don’t like to say (that) because I think we were rich when it comes to love, values and godliness. My dad instilled that in us from a very young age,” she shared.
The former Upton Garden Girls Centre teacher is pleased with accomplishments.
“I am very much satisfied. (The) challenges I’ve been through, both personal and financial— just name it, it’s like when I look back on my life, I feel so proud,” she added.
Fun fact: this mom of two can make a mean chicken roti on any day. You can find her on all social media platforms.