Inside Scoop: An Interview with Cyntelia Abrams of Design Essentials

 Introducing a new series on Natural Hair in the Media (NHM)!

Today is my first post for my Inside Scoop series, which will give an inside look into marketing, advertising, natural hair, and everything in between. 

I’m happy to report that my first post comes from an interview I conducted with Cyntelia Abrams, Marketing Coordinator for Design Essentials. Cyntelia was great to talk with…we got a little sidetracked at the end because we started talking about natural hair. You know how women can be once they start talking about hair!  But here are some key points from the interview:

  • Cyntelia wears several hats at Design Essentials®, including managing various projects in marketing, advertising, and public relations.
  • Design Essentials’® target customer is any woman (or child) with texture.
  • Design Essentials® believes social media is all about sharing.
  • One great thing about having natural hair? You can be whatever you want without the extra labels.
  • Consumers have the POWER to demand what they want from a brand.

Tiffany: How did you get interested in marketing?

Cyntelia: In college. I graduated in 2005, and I majored in journalism and communications with a concentration in advertising. My interest in advertising was on the creative side as opposed to advertising sales, media buying or planning. After college, I got an opportunity at Design Essentials®, and I gladly took it. It was the perfect job because my position allowed me to touch various aspects of the beauty industry-research & development, marketing, advertising, and public relations.

My other passions, besides beauty, are media and dance. Oh, and my son of course. I’m a 1st time mom so everything is new to me!

Tiffany: What part of your career do you enjoy the most?

Cyntelia: I really love the photo-shoots because it allows a concept and vision to be manifested into art.

Tiffany: What is your role at Design Essentials®?

Cyntelia: Marketing coordinator, which means I do a whole lot of everything. LOL! I actually manage various projects in marketing, advertising, and public relations. It’s great for my personality.

Tiffany: Tell me about the marketing process for Design Essentials®. How and where do you decide to market your products? Who is your target audience? How do you determine that?

Cyntelia: Our parent company is McBride Research Laboratories. It was started by Cornell McBride, Sr. and geared towards professional stylists. His goal was to empower professional stylists by creating a line of products that they [stylists] could depend on. That’s been the focus of our business. We have expanded to offering retail products to consumers, available in professional salons and DesignEssentials.com. Our target customer is any woman (or child) with texture.

Tiffany: What is DE’s advertising strategy? When creating an advertisement, what message is DE trying to portray?

Cyntelia:  We advertise where naturally curly women get their information-on websites likes naturallycurly.com and curlynikki.com. We also have ongoing advertisements that run in Essence magazine and Sophisticate’s Black Hair. Additionally, we have a national advertising campaign on BET. In terms of speaking to natural hair consumers, we launched our Natural line with Embrace Your Natural Beauty as a message because that’s such an important part of the natural hair journey. Now the message is out there. Women are truly loving their natural texture so the next questions are “now what?” and “what do I use?” Today, our message centers around helping women achieve the styles they want without the wait. We do this by providing products that are easy to use, and products that create healthy, gorgeous hair.

Tiffany: What, if any, social media campaigns does DE do? Does DE have a Pinterest account?

Cyntelia: We tend to get really engaged and active with our fans. Design Essentials® believes social media is all about sharing. It’s another form of communication. On Facebook, for example, we provide a lot of information in terms of hair education, product usage tips, styling trends, upcoming shows, current Design Essentials® promotions and new products.

 Tiffany: What does market research tell you about the typical natural hair consumer, in your eyes?  (i.e. demographics, attitudes)

Cyntelia: The natural hair market is so vast. I wouldn’t say there’s a typical natural hair consumer. When it comes to natural hair, the market is constantly growing and shifting. At first, I would say a lot of women went natural for the health benefits of it, but then it became trendy, cool to be natural. I think there’s a lot of variation too. The natural woman is your mom, your cousin, and your baby sister. You have a generation of women who are natural. There are various segments in the natural hair community, that’s great.

Our approach is not to do a one size fits all strategy when it comes to natural hair. Before we introduced our natural hair line, we held focus groups with women of varying ages and demographics. One lady said I want to be natural, but I’m not “afrocentric”. 5 years ago, it was thought, “I have an afro and I’m afrocentric”. Today, those stereotypes are starting to fade. The great thing about natural hair is that you can be whatever you want without the extra labels.

Tiffany: I reviewed the survey results from the June 2010 survey on why women are choosing to go natural. The survey found that the #1 reason was for healthy hair. Did this reason significantly differ depending on any demographic variables (i.e. age, education, income level)

Cyntelia: That is a huge reason for going natural. People are assuming natural hair automatically equals healthy. We found that women think, “I’m natural, I can do whatever I want with my hair”. You still have to very mindful of how to care for your natural hair. You can still get damage if you, for example, thermally abuse your hair. And trims are important too. We’ve really tried to teach stylists and consumers about natural hair care. Education is key and a true passion for Design Essentials®.

Tiffany: What do you think makes a great brand? What sets Design Essentials apart from other hair care systems?

Cyntelia: So many parts to that – I think in terms of business development: 1) Knowing who you are and what you want to be. Then everything you do will be based on who you are and what you want to be.  2) Knowing what your consumers want so it’s important to engage. We work with professionals stylists as part of our research and development in formulating products. Consumers also test our products as well. Finally, a brand has to remain open to evolution. That’s very important. It’s also apart of being connected to the consumer who’s constantly evolving. Although your purpose may not change, your strategy may change to adjust to your consumer.

Tiffany: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Cyntelia: As a consumer, you have the power to demand what you want from your brand. You have a voice. If you want to see it, then demand it. I know this personally. We’ve been known to pull out FB postings in our strategy meetings. LOL!

Tiffany: Cyntelia, thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview.

Cyntelia: You are very welcome. I enjoyed it. I hope I didn’t talk to much!

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6 thoughts on “Inside Scoop: An Interview with Cyntelia Abrams of Design Essentials

  1. Pingback: The Week in Review: 5 Most-Viewed Posts on NHM June 17 « Natural Hair in the Media

  2. I am an educator in the Hair industry who has taught in the Paul Mitchell school in Pittsburgh,Pa. I was wondering if you’re ever looking to expand your design team. I know that educators for many African American product lines do not exist in this area but there is definitely a market.

  3. Pingback: My Design Essentials® Blogger Makeover – Part 1 « Natural Hair in the Media

  4. Pingback: A few of my FAVORITE things!! « Natural Hair in the Media

  5. Pingback: Inside Scoop Series – An interview with actress and model J’Zhanel ‘JZ’ Cole | Natural Hair in the Media

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