Everyone needs a little help with his or her hair. Thankfully there are groups on Facebook a dime a dozen now and many blogs, but to assist, even more, Special Kinks found a book about DIY hair products. This may be your escape from being a product junkie!
Hair Alchemy – Guide to Handcrafted Natural Hair Products, is written by Barbadian Taymer Mason and she chatted with us.
Special Kinks (SK): Where did the name for your book come from?
Taymer (pronounced Tay-mar): I wanted to you a trendy word that was in the natural hair scene and that was Kink/ Kinky and Alchemy basically is the magic in the process of formulating. I was going to call it Natural Hair Alchemy but it didn’t have a ring to it.
SK: What motivated you to write the book?
Taymer: Well, I started my own line of products back in 2013 in Sint Maarten.It was a moderate success but I wanted to move this business back home to a place which in my opinion was more prepared to handle a manufacturing business of that nature. I love making products as much as I love to cook but I want women to learn how to whip up organic preservative free products at home for their natural hair because: a) some products are expensive b) we are in the era of DIY and c) lots of so called natural hair products have
a) some products are expensive
b) we are in the era of DIY and
c) lots of so called natural hair products have in too much additives that they are just as chemical laden as products for relaxed hair.
Kink Alchemy basically aids you the reader in replacing products, giving you the tools and the skills to make your own easy formulas at home. Some people are also interested in making products and some try to do it even if it is not perfect, this book is your 101 in product formulation.
SK: Throughout the writing process, what was the biggest challenge?
Taymer: My biggest challenge was trying to find castor oil trees during the dry season. While these trees grow in the wild, I could not find one for the photoshoot for Guadeloupean Black Castor Oil. Other than that formulating the recipes were very easy for me. When I am writing cookbooks I cannot stand to do conversions for units i.e going from cups to ml but someone has to do it!
SK: Are you employed or studying otherwise, if so, was it a challenge balancing your job/studies and writing?
Taymer: I am a full-time writer and entrepreneur now. I flirted with the idea for many years and now I feel a joy working for myself. While some schools may say books are dead it is not the case. The way people consume information has changed but there is a market for books. I currently consult for small businesses making artisanal products so I schedule writing and work.
SK: How long from start to finish did it take you to write the book?
Taymer: It took me two weeks to write the book and another 2 and a half weeks to formulate the hair care formulas.
SK: How many pages does the book have?
Taymer: It is a small book it has 131 pages.
SK: What kind of response are you getting so far?
Taymer: The response is moderate but I am currently responding to interviews from overseas magazines and blogs whose subject is Natural Hair Care. I also am getting a great response from the white community because while they have straighter hair many women in general like the idea of making their own customizable products at home using easy to find items like coconut milk, papaya and aloe vera leaf!
SK: What was your funniest memory during the process of completing this book?
Taymer: Writing a reference book eg cookbook or a how to book is double work! I would say hunting for Scrunchi needle and my friend Phillip warning me about avoiding the thorns and both of us hopping and biting out the thorns from our finger tips after a Sunday hike.
SK: Ever foresaw yourself as an author?
Taymer: I always knew I would write from since I was 11 years old. I was lucky to land an international book deal at that age and I am grateful for the other two deals I have now. Kink Alchemy was self-published because I always was curious about self-publishing but I admit as an author with book deals I use to turn up my nose at it. Self-publishing this one has given me more freedom as an author.
SK: What’s next for you?
Taymer: A lot (laughs). I am currently working with new wine company in Barbados called Gems Wine so I excited about their brand and product. The second expanded edition of Caribbean Vegan comes out November 29th 2016 so I am gearing up for a mini book tour starting with my second home city Toronto Canada. I am launching my natural hair and skin line at the end of 2016 and I have rebranded and reformulated everything so that would be a new chapter in my life. I will look into doing workshops for interested people and hairdressers who want to formulate their own signature products.
SK: Where would you like to see your book?
Taymer: I want to see Kink Alchemy on natural hair blogs and sites and even urban magazines. I want it to be a classic book on handcrafted natural hair products.
SK: If your book could bring about some change, what would you like it to be?
Taymer: I think that the average woman does not understand the composition of what they put on their skin and hair. Most people buy mindlessly then complain that xyz doesn’t agree with their skin or hair. I get frustrated hearing people say oh it is a natural product to turn over the ingredients and see a bunch of fillers and chemicals inside. I want the average woman to know what is a preservative, know what is a useless filler and make a conscious decision when buying hair and skin products. I hope Kink Alchemy enlightens all naturalistas. After using the products in the book you would notice a difference in your hair and if you
SK: What makes this book different to the many natural hair books hitting the shelves around the globe?
Taymer: There are a few reference natural hair books out there that give readers information of how to care for their hair. There are some with some hair recipes. Mine has pictures! Laughs and my book basically takes you by the hand and schools you on product formulating for different types of products, for instance you learn how to make creamy conditioners and use key ingredients that make it creamy. You are educated on preservatives both natural and chemical leaving it up to you to make your choice as you are given the pros and cons. My book is more detailed, I respect protocol but bring it to you in a fun and easy way, did I mention that the photos of the products are really effective because you know what you are going to get at the end of mixing.
SK: What do you hope each reader takes away after reading your work?
Taymer: I hope they understand that when some product says aloe vera inside it means one drop. I hope they have a new found knowledge of everyday ingredients and the remarkable transformation from raw material to product. I hope that the book and the products they make inspire them to be more creative.
SK: Who would you like to thank?
Taymer: My mother for cleaning up after me and my hiking partner Philip for driving around with me until I found all of my props and ingredients.
Taymer Mason is a Barbadian trained microbiologist and food scientist. A self-described geek growing up she spent her days reading scientific books, writing poetry and painting. Taymer describes herself as an artist at heart.
In 2010 the vegan chef wrote Caribbean Vegan which is being released as a second edition in November 2016 with companion book Caribbean Smoothies out in July 2016.
Taymer was always obsessed with botany at a young age and believes that all plants have a purpose. In 2006 she started making products for her natural hair using Barbadian molasses, wild hibiscus flowers and forest made island oils.
This bilingual globe trotter spends her days writing cookbooks on veganism, marketing artisanal small businesses and creating new hair and skin products.
She hopes to launch a ‘clean’ natural hair and skin line this year.