We are stuck in this pappardelle (with an end in sight I guess, but SH!T. CAN EVERYBODY JUST GET VACCINATED ALREADY? DAMN.) which means I have NOT been going to get my hair did, so praise all things holy that I just be out here wearing my hair raw because can you imagine if I was straightening my hair? I am also unable to braid my own hair or wear a wig that doesn’t make me look like I belong in a Tyler Perry movie (to be fair, the only wig I own is purple, so really I’d just be out here looking like a disco queen which is not as bad a look on me as you’d think). But in a REGULAR colored wig I’d look a whole ass mess. Mostly though that’d be because I’m incompetent at doing my own hair, because thanks to Naomi Sims, I wouldn’t have to wear a wig that looked like I slapped on some white woman’s hair and tried to pass it off as A LEWK (and I would and I would also dare a white person to make any kinda comment about what my hair was looking like too but not the point of this story)

The point is that Naomi Sims, first Black Woman to appear on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal (in 1968. For reference, LHJ was first published in 1883), who is ALSO as being the first Black supermodel knew even then that The Beauty Industry does not*, I mean, did not care enough about Black people to know what to do with Black People Hair EVEN as they styled them to perfection to sell their clothes to People With Money, EVEN if they happened to be Black. “I was driven to a distraction in terms of how to vary my hairstyle”, Naomi said.

She new that wearing wigs was an option, but what was not an option was being out there wearing wigs that made her look like she just grabbed a hat with some hair on it. Can you imagine? Walking down the runway in a dress that costs thousands, in a wig that looked like it costs $5? Naomi was not pleased with the wig options available to her. They had smooth, straight fibers that looked nothing like Black hair. BUT SHE HAD AN IDEA: She took the best-selling fiber wig for white women, wet the fiber down and put it in the oven. The result was a curlier, coarser fiber and a new business idea.

After approaching several wig manufacturers, she finally inked a deal with Metropa Company, a small import-export firm that sold a line of wigs for Black women. The company agreed to put up some money, and make its research laboratories available to Sims. The company developed a lightweight wig fiber that  looked like straightened Black hair, and did not have to be set. The fiber was patented and trademarked under the name Presselle, and the first line of the Naomi Sims Collection went into production.

For the first three years, Sims designed all the wig styles herself. “Basically, we duplicated the styles that were popular–what Black women in the street were wearing, and combined that with my fashion sense,” Sims told Black Enterprise. She also wrote and designed the advertisements, and traveled around the country promoting her wigs. Initially store buyers who were most assuredly Not Black were skeptical about the need for Naomi’s product, but in the first year of sales reached $5 million dollars, proving them wrong.

By the early ‘80’s Sims gradually expanded her business interests to include perfume, skin care products and cosmetics for Black women. Four years later, she founded her own company, Naomi Sims Beauty Products, Ltd. By 1989, Naomi Sims Beauty Products was grossing $5 million, and its products were distributed not only across the United States, but also in Africa, the Caribbean, and Canada. By the late 1980s, however, Sims’s firm was being challenged by larger, white-owned firms, who wanted a share of the Black cosmetics market while continuing not to care about the Black women who bought it.

Sims has been criticized by people who accused her of making money from women’s fears about their own attractiveness. She had this to say: “I am sure I have my share of Black female critics and enemies,” she was quoted as saying in Black Business Leaders. “It doesn’t matter. I adore women and I know I am a woman’s woman….I would be nowhere if it weren’t for Black women.”

Whew. Can I get an amen?

Anyway! That’s today’s fact boys and girls and everyone in between. Hope you enjoyed it. You got one more day and then I go back into ignoring Lex’s request for Black History Facts until next year. Or if I feel like talking sh!t about current things that for some reason sound like history things because people that uphold white supremacy NEVER EVER learn from the past and I can ALWAYS find something to connect a thing today with a thing from yesteryear. Or if I just wanna say hi. Okay. Bye!