March is Women’s History Month and I was given the pleasure of interviewing Charlene Dance. I think it’s awesome because she is the Global Marketing Director of a product (African Pride) that I grew up using, in addition to a product (Beautiful Textures) that I currently use. It is always nice to speak to the person behind the brand!
Mother, wife and business woman, Charlene Dance wears many hats including being one of the youngest woman in the beauty industry as a Global Marketing Director for an international hair care brand. Charlene has directed the launch & relaunch of Strength of Nature’s professional hair care brands Elasta QP, Mega Growth Profectiv, African Pride and most recently Beautiful Textures TMS System.
BS: How does it feel knowing what you do on a daily basis affects so many women in their day to day life?
CD: It’s very surreal to me. I love the fact that the passion for what I do shows up in a very theatrical way every day. I am thankful to God that I am able to do what I do. Our company mission aligns with my personal goal and objectives, to create ways to allow women to evolve into whatever they desire to be beautifully. And we are able to do that at an affordable price point. For me, it’s been a confirmation in a way that women have been embracing the brand, buying it, the messaging, formula, price point are all working together and lets me know I am on the right track in reaching women. It’s amazing.
BS: Has there been an overwhelming shift in your products or company structure since the natural hair revolution has come about?
CD: We continually create products that meet the ever evolving needs of women of color. We want to evolve, grow, and be different. We want to meet the need as it’s trending, not research it then catch it 4 years later and say, “Wait! Women are going natural! Let’s jump on this natural train.” We very much have our finger on the pulse of the trend. We understand that African American women are no longer monolific, we understand while 46% of women are natural – that still leaves you with 54% of women still getting relaxers. We still have to create products that meet that need too. We are excited that we can embrace that change and growing trend while still able to serve the market that still chemically treats their hair.
BS: What do you do to stay current and keep yourself motivated?
CD: Simply grass roots. The higher you climb the ladder, the more remote you become from your consumer. I just made a real conscious decision not to do that. I make sure I attend meet-ups and are available to people, whether it’s a meet up of 12 or 1000. I make sure that I am engaged in social media and reading blogs. I meet up with bloggers one on one to see how they started? What’s the need? What’s happening in their market? I try to stay as tangible as I can to the actual consumer, new media (bloggers & vloggers), and traditional media (magazines, tv, etc.). I think that the key to staying tapped in.
BS: What is NOW so important to be involved in what’s important to you?
CD: I think it’s important for women to understand that this is the most empowering space and time since the 70’s for women of color. Mainly because you actually have a voice and you’re getting paid for that voice. There are no barriers but yourself. You have the absolute opportunity to be as powerful & successful as you want to be. I think that’s incredible. I think it also needs encouragement at times. When you believe in yourself, there are no limits for you.
BS: Are you going to participate with the Essence Festival?
CD: We are there every year. There are so many beauty suites that pop up at Essence and I did challenge them to do something different and unique. I am for one for innovation. It’s only so many times I will beat the same drum before I tell someone to find a new instrument.
BS: Any tips for a first time attendee to Essence?
- Long flowing sundresses
- Save the tight clothes for late night at the club.
- Check the web for great deals, you can go to Essence for cheap.
BS: Could you define success and have you achieved it?
CD: I think we all have. I think that success is a very individual thing. I think when you align yourself with your goals and you know exactly what your objectives are and focus to finally reach them – you are successful. Success is a reachable goal for everyone. People hear the word “Success” and immediately equate that with wealth, but you could be wealthy in your every day life. For example, a woman that has gotten out of an abusive relationship and is now able to raise & provide for her children without fear, to me that is success. Success is unique and different. It’s all about being determined to meet your goals and objectives. When you are able to do that, you are successful.
BS: What makes your products different or stand out from what is currently out there?
CD: Definitely our packaging, we are probably the only ethnic manufacture with sleeve packaging, meaning the entire bottle is covered with vibrant colors, and more graphically expressive. It’s an expensive mechanism that we have in place. We also do match formulations, which makes our products competitive with more expensive brands but at a cheaper price point.
BS: What’s next on the horizon with Strength of Nature?
CD: We just created a revolutionary product that holds up to it’s claim and promise. It’s called The Texture Manageability system (Beautiful Textures.com). It promises that you can go from curly to straight without any harsh chemicals. We tested this product for two years and just brought it to market in January. It’s sold at Walmart & Walgreens. It’s for women who have been natural but love to switch it up sometimes but don’t want to lose their natural curl pattern either. They can experience being versatile without damaging their hair. It’s the highest level conditioner you will ever experience?
BS: Are you natural?
CD: I am natural, and have been for about 10 years but I am a different type of natural. I say that because I color, and six months out of the year I wear a weave because I travel so much.
BS: How do you balance work & family life? Is that even possible?
CD: I am a newlywed. I have been married for about a year and I have a daughter in college. I don’t believe in balance, but I believe in prioritizing. That’s how you get through having so many roles you play. I make that clear to everyone that is around me what’s important. I put God first, family and then my career. If you don’t prioritize you will burn. I can’t balance my daughter against my work. She comes first. When you are clear about your priorities people will respect that.