Business Ventures on the Horizon with Mieko Perez: Jamaican Roots
November 1, 2020 | By Mieko Hester-Perez
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We sat down with Debra Barrett to discuss how her Jamaican-made wellness products are empowering women.
Hair loss is an epidemic that affects many women all around the world.
As a trichologist ((hair loss specialist) who has suffered through her own hair loss challenges, I decided that it was time to create products that would resolve my own hair loss issues (of thinning and shedding), as well as benefit the millions of women worldwide who are suffering in silence and shame. My first step was to research the hair products that I had been using and then create a natural-based product that would work for me - which meant, I would need to re-familiarize myself with my hair in its natural state and texture. When making the decision to reacquaint myself with my hair, I knew that I would have to stop cutting it. I began to create a hair oil from many natural ingredients including: vitamins, minerals, essential oils, and oils (such as coconut, castor, olive, and jojoba).
For approximately 12 weeks, I created a hair regimen using my natural concoction. When I finally visited my mother in California after those three months, my hair growth was the first thing that she noticed - and that sealed the deal for me. My next step was to tackle my hair health by examining the shampoo I had been using and deciding to research and create my own shampoo bars. After experimenting with different formulas, I eventually discovered the ingredients I would need for my curly hair would involve superfatting (increasing the oil ratio) the bars, which promoted my hair growth, as well as a healthy scalp.
My journey to healthy hair resulted in the inception of my business. Gro & Glo is a hair loss service that I created to address hair loss, scalp health, and skin restoration. Throughout my professional career as a cosmetologist and trichologist I have always believed in showing women that hair loss does not have to be a life sentence. My services consist of educating women about their hair and skin, while providing consistent treatment, products, and love - ultimately restoring healthy hair, skin and confidence.
1. What inspired you to enter the Jamaican cannabis business sector?
Like everything else I have done, it was out of pure need. I'm a licensed cosmetologist, and also a certified trichologist, and last year after returning from an event in Las Vegas, I
woke up, not feeling so hot (literally, sun poisoned previous week) and
decided to quit doing hair. I was feeling very overwhelmed, and got the
worst anxiety attack I could imagine. I took some Xanax, but after the second day, I did not feel any better. I then decided to try something more natural and make a cannabis-infused coconut oil tincture to help with the symptoms. After a cool shower, I
rubbed myself down in the oil, took a half a dropper under my tongue, and
took a nap. The next day, I woke up feeling so much better! The pills went in the
trash and that was the beginning of my journey into the cannabis business. My mission was to help people discover how natural medicines, such as cannabis could benefit their hair, skin, and overall health. At the time too, I was already making soaps so what better way to express
myself in what I love doing than through my ganja-infused products.
2. In the next 5 years, where do you see Negril Soap Company making an impact? And why?
I think in the next 5 years Negri Soap Factory, (a Wellness store at its core) will have laid down the foundation for what I like to call, "Full Circle Care." Every partner has their own specialty and role within the company. I am a hair loss, skin care specialist, Chris Lalli is a master cultivator and soaper, and Dr. Lakisha Jenkins is our registered herbalist and brew master., Naturo-path education is also a key part of our services as we educate customers from what herbs to buy to what facial bars are best suited for them.
3. As a former California native, how has Jamaican principles enhanced your outlook on traditional uses of cannabis products?
When I was growing up, cannabis was looked down upon in the black community. But after asking thinking about cannabis as an herb I had more questions then answers. Is weed dangerous? What else does this plant have to offer? Well, after a little research, I learned that a lot of the perceptions about cannabis were false or exaggerated. So, I started smoking but never knew I was medicating at the same time. Growing up in a very traditional-medicine-kind of household, we medicated with herbs before going to a doctor. And after late moving to Jamaica, I learned to appreciate a variety of herbs. I just never knew that cannabis could be used in so many creative ways; such as in alcohol as a tincture, teas infused with other herbs, and infused into oils for pain management.
About Debra Barrett
I make a line of cannabis-infused personal care products, that includes: soaps, shampoo bars, body scrubs, facial and hair/ scalp mask, skin oils, and hair/ scalp oils to encourage hair growth.
My products are made here in Jamaica using all natural, fresh locally sourced ingredients. Turmeric, ginger moringa, sea moss, rice, papaya, are just a few of the many natural ingredients I use. I am a lover of oils, so my products are made for, but not just exclusively for women or men in my age group. My products are made in small batches and made for a specific purpose- for instance, my shampoo bars are made to soothe the scalp, and to also stimulate the hair follicle to encourage hair growth.
I also make skin care oils for us women that may be at that age where insomnia/anxiety is also an issue and cannabis infused oils, with ingredients like lavender, and chamomile, to help induce a relaxing situation.
My body scrubs are made with Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, Jamaican raw sugar, and cannabis. After one shower with this body scrub? Oh my! What a way to go to sleep.
Gro & Glo products can be found at Negril Soap Factory located in Negril Jamaica.
And Instagram @Negril Escape Resort and Spa