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Community Highlights: Meet Gina Spence & Isis Benjamin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gina Spence & Isis Benjamin.

Hi Isis & Gina, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you all are today?
Gina: The journey to create House of Isis started over 3 decades ago from my career (and still current occupation) as a licensed cosmetologist. My love for health, hair, and overall wellness is what truly helped bring my vision to light. You see we are originally from the tiny island of Bermuda, where my journey as a hairstylist & herbalist began. I actually grew up helping my father run his own business as a barbershop owner. After his death my siblings and I came together in 1993 and opened our own all-inclusive hair salon named “Spence Hair Deigns” in Hamilton, Bermuda.

In 2006, I moved my daughter Isis & I to Florida in hopes of creating a better life fueled with more opportunities. As a single-mother and immigrant in this country it was definitely challenging to say the least, but I always kept the bigger picture in mind which was to provide my daughter and I with the best life possible. By the grace of God, in 2007, I acquired my state board cosmetology license & in 2008 I opened my own hair salon, Step It Up in West Palm Beach, Florida.

However, with more than a decade of experience as a hairstylist I had begun to notice an alarming trend and pattern in the hair & skin care products specifically projected to the black community. In all of these products I would notice the same key ingredients: sulfates, parabens, alcohols, and silicones. These chemicals were, and still are found in hair relaxers, shampoos, hair gels and other every-day-use hair products. My father always told me “Gina, don’t be a part of the problem, be the change.” So, I went back to many of the things I saw him do with his own clients. I began researching herbs that could heal things like alopecia or hair loss After working often 16-18-hour days as a hairstylist, I would then go home to my kitchen to begin mixing and measuring different plant-based recipes. For years, I’ve watched my clients suffer from alopecia, eczema, joint pain, and other conditions. I wanted to develop products that were dual-purposed for both the hair and skin while also providing holistically healing. I wanted to ensure that it would be 100% natural, so I began hand-crafting and manufacturing the products myself. I am so proud to say that these are the only products that I have used in my salon and on my clients for the past 11 years. They have not only restored my client’s hair & skin but have also aided them on living much healthier lifestyles.

Then, in 2010 we acquired our U.S. patent & LLC license officially launching “House of Isis.” I decided to name it after my daughter, Isis because she was truly and still is my biggest inspiration for it all!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Isis: The journey has been challenging to say the least, but I am so thankful and grateful for the continuous lessons! After graduating from my beloved alma mater, Spelman College in the Spring of 2020 amidst an entire pandemic I admit I felt extremely anxious about where the next chapter of my life would take me. I’ve always been surrounded by entrepreneurship but never did I consider becoming an entrepreneur myself. However, this changed abruptly after I was completely laid off from my first job after graduating, it was in this pivotal moment that I realized just how disposable employees are to their companies. From them on I vowed to never work for anyone else but myself. So, during an entire pandemic from April to July of 2020 I diligently worked on rebranding House of Isis. It was truly the memories of my mother’s hard work, dedication and triumph through adversity that served as a beacon of light for my path through entrepreneurship. Together we put the very last of our savings into rebranding our entire company! In the matter of two months, I became the sole graphic designer, digital marketer and website builder. I taught myself how to do virtually everything which eliminated a lot of extra spending. I am so proud to say that we were able to fully rebrand without any outside assistance; all self-funded! On July 31st, 2020 with new logos, labels, packaging and website we officially re-launched as House of Isis! I’ve always been one to encourage generational wealth building, I can truly say that growing our family business was the best decision we ever made! My advice to other young entrepreneurs is that you should never be afraid to invest in yourself and your dream. You are your biggest advocate and it’s up to you to carry yourself across the finish line!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
At House of Isis, we are a mother-daughter duo who create 100% vegan products that holistically heal the hair & skin. Each of our products are plant-based and free of toxins, alcohols, dyes, parabens, silicones & sulfates. We manufacture all of our products in-house to ensure that we provide our community with the very best plant-based ingredients.

What makes our products so unique is that each product is made with the intention to holistically heal! Black women in particular are disproportionately impacted by the toxic chemicals found in the hair & skincare products projected to our communities. These same chemicals create health disparities such as early hysterectomies, liver damage, and breast cancer. So, we decided to no longer add to these healthy disparities and provide alternative chemical-free beauty products.

Our products work together to restore, repair, and replenish dry, damaged hair and skin. They include a collection of shampoos, conditioners, supportive oils, all infused with natural ingredients such as African shea butter, castile soaps, cold-pressed castor & olive oil, and blends of essential oils. As a mother-daughter duo, we have truly put our very best into our company, upholding our mission every step of the way. Everyone always asks us “so, what is it like to work have your mother/daughter as your business partner?” We say “It’s amazing!” It’s honestly such a blessing to be able to build this company from the ground up and watch it grow and develop together!

With so many people now becoming more and more educated on the terrible effects of chemically infused hair & skin care products and the benefits of plant-based products we have truly seen tremendous growth in our business. We are proud to say that in addition to our storefront we also retail our products in Vera’s Beauty Supply in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Imperial Cuts Barber Shop in Hamilton, Bermuda. Our products may also be found on our online store www.houseofisis.co and Blacknaps.org and WeBuyBlack.com!

Pricing:

  • Isisnaturalistas Hair Kits $60 – $72
  • LOC’D Care Kit – $90
  • Scalp Care Kit- $25
  • Sun/Wind/Fire Oil – $20- $30
  • Shea Soufflé – $20-$32

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Henbo Squeazy

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