Photo Credit: David Denofreo
It took a lot of time for Falon Bottley to embrace her natural hair.
The Douglas College Business Management Diploma student, who is of African-American and Fijian descent, had spent most of her life using chemicals to colour and tame her natural curls for a sleeker look.
“That kind of curly hair wasn’t something I saw on other people when I was younger. It was poufy and difficult to deal with. I started chemically processing my hair so it would be straight like everyone else’s because, of course, we all want to fit in,” Bottley said.
Then, in Grade 12, Bottley had an epiphany of sorts. After a friend suggested she go back to her natural hue and texture, she did some soul searching.
“After all the colouring and the styling, my hair still wasn’t like everyone else’s. And I just reached that point where I stopped caring so much about other people’s opinions. So I started my transition to natural – and that’s when I fell in love with my hair again,” Bottley said.
Bottley’s experience as a woman of colour, and the pressure to conform to society’s perceptions of beauty, made her realize there was a huge gap in the market for products designed for natural hair. She applied at Douglas to help her turn that concept into reality.
“I’ve always loved hair and makeup,” Bottley said. “I wanted to find a way to use my strengths and personal experience to work with something I’m passionate about. So I thought it would be a good start to look at hair and makeup for women of colour from a business perspective.
“I would be able to combine business with creativity.”
Once she was at Douglas, Bottley received valuable advice from her accounting instructor, Robin Sandhawalia, who explained the importance of finding a career path that strikes a balance between making money and being happy.
“That cemented it for me. I want to do more than just earn a paycheque. I want to make a difference,” she said.
Once she graduates with her diploma, Bottley plans to delve right into the beauty business to gain work experience and lay the groundwork to build her own brand.
“I want to educate people on hair and beauty for women of colour and would love to start my own company that focuses on that niche market. That is a goal of mine. I can see there is a demand for it in the Lower Mainland, whether it’s access to products or access to knowledge,” she said.