Updated: Oct 15, 2020
More Than Pretty, More Than Smart, & More Than Any Other Box They Put A Black Woman In.
The Pretty Chemist was created to defy the odds.
When I initially started to envision this brand, I was 100% passionate & 100% clueless at the same damn time. As an underclassman in college, all I could focus on was what I would do with this chemistry degree I worked so hard for. Branching away from academia was super important to me because I knew teaching was NOT my thing.
Chemistry intrigued my mind and helped me see life from multiple angles. I was a natural at understanding the material and applying it to everyday life, but I was not in it to be a Harvard professor.
It was just a relationship between me & chemistry that I wanted to explore and be selfish with. THAT'S what I wanted to do. But still, what kind of career does that bring me? Where on Indeed can I find this experience? There was none!
Luckily, as an American Chemical Society scholar (with majority of my education being funded by their scholarship), I had resources that brought me to an internship at BASF in Tarrytown, New York - that’s upstate New York so don’t get all excited. The town was bland af.
My experience at BASF Tarrytown however, was extremely eye opening. I worked under Dr. Amber O. Evans in their Hair Care Research & Development department. And guess what? Dr. Evans was a young black woman willing to give a girl like me some free game. She taught me how to make hair bleach, shampoos, conditioners, pomades, and pigments. I also learned to use new technology and instruments specific for assessing hair quality. The most important aspect of the internship was being able to work under someone who looked like me. Amber was one of a handful of black chemists and scientists at BASF Tarrytown and she was only in her late 20s. She instantly became a mentor and shared with me what it was like being a young minority in this industry.
She carried herself with poise and grace throughout the establishment, but always kept it real with everyone she encountered. Behind closed doors she explained to me how to use my black girl magic to properly educate others in removing the stereotypes of black women. She dropped gems and didn’t even know it because she was still building and developing confidence in her own career. But see, that’s the power of black women. We can be half full & still find room to feed you. I attribute much of what I do today to these few months of my life and will forever thank Dr. Evans for the transparency, guidance, and courage to take up space in a place where we weren’t necessarily welcomed. --> Doing it For Madam CJ !
To keep this as short as possible, I won’t go over the full details of my intern project but just
know that I studied the effects of UVA and UVB rays on different hair types, created a hair application set to prevent such damage, and tested the efficacy of the product. With Amber's support, I eloquently presented a full analytical and statistical report to my superiors including the director of my internship program. I was only 21 years old. Oh & did I mention the internship covered my travel, room and board, anddddd paid very well. Secured the bag earlyyyyyyy.
But fr. Representation matters. As a young black woman it was important to see someone like me achieving a goal I was aspiring to reach. It assured me that it was possible for me to penetrate the chemistry sector AND stay connected to black culture. If I needed to be a trailblazer of comfortably expressing oneself, while showcasing my intellect - then that was just what I had to do.
I won’t let go of black idioms. I won’t water down my accent or my flavor to be more digestible for those who won’t ever understand what it means to be a black woman. I relate to Megan the Stallion just as much as I look up to the late, great Katherine Johnson. I study science just as much as I believe in the Ultimate Creator and my angels constantly surrounding me. The Pretty Chemist connects the disconnected because you do not have to embody one thing to be accepted or successful.
Black culture, pop culture, academia, the arts, and spirituality have all been vital to my life and influence what The Pretty Chemist represents.
As I also navigate through the corporate sector of science, I rely heavily on The Pretty Chemist to share that experience & create a safe space for me to express my creativity, my life, my joys, and my sorrows.
If I make you uncomfortable, I apologize for your limited pallet. I’m sure there is a place for you and I hope you find it.
If I inspire you, continue to commune with me. Let’s connect and grow this thing!
Here’s to wearing many hats and shape-shifting when necessary. Here's to being teachable! Here’s to Black Girl Magic going on forevaaa & evaaa!!
Here’s to you! Here’s to me! Here’s to us!
Luv ya <3