Ask anyone who grew up with curly hair and they will likely tell you that the journey to loving your hair can be rather difficult. There’s so much trial and error involved when it comes to finding the perfect cocktail of gels, oils, and creams that will work for your specific hair type—and that can make learning how to care for your curls feel confusing, and even frustrating.
As someone who has dealt with her own fair share of curly hair struggles, Flourish by Sage founder Sienna Grant Mitsak knows these feelings all too well. Growing up as a multi-racial woman of Guyanese and Australian descent in East Orange, New Jersey, Mitsak felt very lost and alone on her natural hair journey. In the predominantly Caribbean community where she lived, no one was really embracing their natural hair and, if they did, they were just as confused as she was about how to properly care for their curls.
“Whenever I would try to wear my natural hair out, my curls would always be dry and very brittle,” she says. “And I would try so many different products from Target, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens. It would always be so expensive as well because these natural hair products are not cheap at all.”
Her awareness of the lack of affordable and effective haircare products that catered to the textured hair community is something that stuck with her into young adulthood. Though it wasn’t until she came across the LOC method—a popular moisturizing routine for natural hair that consists of layering a liquid, oil, and a cream—that Mitsak finally had her “aha” moment about how she could positively make an impact on the textured haircare space.
“I found that the LOC method really worked for my curls, however I realized that it is a very expensive routine. I had to buy the gel, oil, and cream separately in order for me to get the results that I wanted. And so I started thinking about how I can offer a better solution for the textured hair community,” she says. “My solution was to streamline the process and make the LOC method into a one-stop product that includes the gel, oil, and cream altogether in one bottle.”
Despite still being in the process of completing her degree in Visual Design from Montclair State University, Mitsak felt inspired to make her idea into a reality and so in 2020, Flourish by Sage was born, with the goal of empowering individuals on their own natural hair journeys.
Making Curls Flourish One Hair Souffle at a Time
Forgoing the industry trend of launching with a full product lineup, Flourish by Sage debuted with just three variations of its hero product: a hair souffle that acts as a three-in-one gel, oil, and cream. Priced at $20, this whipped moisturizer is designed to nourish the hair and scalp to support improved elasticity, repair damaged hair, and promote hair growth.
For Mitsak, it was very important the brand’s hair souffle was inclusive of all curl types and so she spent eight months perfecting the formulations for all three versions of the product.
“Not everyone has the exact same hair type, so creating three different variations of the hair souffle for different textures and hair goals was the best way to go about offering a solution for everyone,” she says. “We designed a ‘So Wavy’ hair souffle, a ‘Curl Power’ hair souffle, and a ‘Lovely Kinks’ hair souffle to cater to very specific hair needs.”
Being that Mitsak follows a plant-based diet, she was very selective about the ingredients that went into creating her products and took time to ensure that they aligned with both her morals and ideals. Each product is organic as well as cruelty-free and their formulas boast numerous essential oils such as lavender, Frangipani, and Ylang Ylang oil, which is known for balancing sebum production in your scalp. Plus, many popular hair hydrators such as aloe vera and shea butter were also used as staple ingredients.
To ensure that consumers are using the best hair souffle for their kinks, curls, or waves, Mitsak designed a simple hair quiz to help match them with the best solutions for their hair needs.
“The hair quiz that I curated takes just a few minutes,” she says. “There are questions about your hair porosity, hair density, and your hair goals, along with a lot of visual aids that you’ll be able to understand. Once you’re done with the quiz, it recommends a hair souffle to you that caters to your unique hair type and your hair goals.”
Along with a hair quiz, the brand also offers additional resources such as haircare advice and tips on determining your curl type on its website to help consumers navigate their natural hair journey with confidence.
Meeting Her Community Where They Are
When it came to getting her Flourish by Sage off the ground, Mitsak initially looked towards harnessing the power of in-person events rather than social media to build the brand’s customer base.
“I went straight to networking and building connections,” she shares. “I would just book so many different vendor events and festivals across the tri-state area that catered to my target audience.”
For Mitsak, oftentimes, this meant attending as many local house music festivals in her area as she could find. “House music is a huge cultural thing in New Jersey—that’s where all the people of color are,” she explains. “I booked every house music festival that was happening in northern New Jersey, where I am located.” And being that she was so close to New York as well, she also made a point to attend national hair events, Latin festivals, Afro festivals, and Caribbean festivals that were happening in the area.
“I would do about two to three different festivals or events a week and that’s how I was really able to make an impact,” she says.
At these festivals and events, Mitsak would do live hair demonstrations on attendees, sometimes seeing up to a hundred people a day.
“It would be from morning until dawn and I would have my mom or my best friend help me out at times,” she shares. “And we would just tag-team it. I would call people over to us or they would call people over, and we would just sit the people down and educate them about their hair. We would tell them about the products and apply it to their hair. And almost every single person that would sit in our chair would buy a product. They would buy multiple products, so we would sell out. These events were just a huge hit!”
She adds, “With these events, it’s just a great opportunity to meet and connect with different people. It’s a way to build a long-term impact, particularly with our repeat customers. They have such a high level of trust instilled in the brand because they’ve been able to meet me and my mom at these events. They really believe in the brand.”
Mitsak’s brand has not only found success with festivals and local events, but also with local businesses in her community. Her Flourish by Sage products are currently being carried at a salon, a barbershop, and a beauty supply store in New Jersey. Having already established such a strong presence in her local community with her brand, Mitsak now hopes to reach an even larger audience with the help of social media and increased marketing.
Flourish by Sage’s Next Steps
As for what to expect next from Flourish by Sage? Mitsak has considered adding a few new products to the brand’s current lineup. She shares that she has been looking to her customers for input on Flourish by Sage’s next innovation. “I just want to keep on listening to my community and what they want,” she says. “Whatever they want is what I’m going to give them.”
Currently, the top contenders are either a mousse or a shampoo and conditioner. Regardless of what product ultimately gets chosen, she hopes to tackle the brand’s version in a way that will help them to stand out in the competitive natural haircare market.
Looking much further ahead, Mitsak has her sights set on the haircare brand becoming a household name. “I want Flourish by Sage to be a brand that continues to meet people where they are at on their natural hair journey,” she says. “I also want to continue to educate people about their hair and build our own educator community within the brand, where there is no gatekeeping on information. And I would love as the brand grows to be able to add a give-back component in which we donate to different nonprofit organizations. That’s what I really want for the brand.”