An Interview with Tanya Wright
In addition to playing Crystal Burset on the hit show, Orange Is the New Black, Tanya Wright has acted in many iconic television shows. Her resume includes Family Matters, The Cosby Show, and True Blood. This on its own is beyond impressive, but in addition to those successes, Wright is a published author (she wrote a book called I Found God in My Hair) and the owner of a hair company called HAIRiette. Not only did Detroit Fashion News speak to Wright about her hair empire, she also spilled the hair tips that she gives to Laverne Cox on the set of Orange is the New Black!
DFN: How would you describe your hair care routine?
Wright: HAIRiette has made my hair care routine very simple. I co-wash (cleanse and condition) once or twice a week in the shower with a creamy, latherless concoction. Next, I slather my hair with the bestselling curl crème and let my hair dry naturally. The curl crème moisturizes, adds shine, and defines my curls. Finally, I use the HAIRiette oil blend to seal everything in. This oil is great because it leaves an awesome scent and gives the hair an incredible shine.
DFN: To say that you have an amazing background would be an understatement. I was wondering if you had any beauty background experience before you started HAIRiette?
Wright: I always wanted to be in the beauty industry, but knew I did not want to just be the “face” of a brand. I wanted to be intimately involved in every aspect of creating the product. I figured the best way to do that was to create my own brand! I started out by doing tons of research online with the idea of understanding what people really wanted from their hair care products. While I was in college, I worked as a receptionist for a doctor of Ayurvedic medicine—Ayurveda is an Indian system of healing that uses oils, herbs, and foods to treat the body and heal imbalances. One of the foods used a lot in healing was Kokum butter, a fruit from India that is used to treat all sorts of ailments. When I started working with a chemist to formulate HAIRiette, I also learned that Kokum butter works great for hair, too! Not only via hydration and moisture, but it also acts as an antioxidant, increases elasticity and literally feeds the hair with food.
DFN: How would you describe HAIRiette?
Wright: HAIRiette is both a product and a person whose mission is to help make the world a better place—one hair at a time. CLICK HERE to meet HAIRiette.
DFN: How did you get started launching HAIRiette?
Wright: In addition to creating a haircare product, I wanted to create a person that people could relate to. HAIRiette is a product and a person (who is played by me). HAIRiette is a familiar face that customers can identify with. Customers can learn from HAIRiette and through this character, will know that they are not going through their hair woes all alone.
DFN: Many business owners find it very challenging to get their products into stores. HAIRiette is sold in several retailers including Whole Foods. What advice would you give to business owners who would like to get their products into stores?
Wright: First, perfect the product and then listen to your consumer! We made lots of tweaks before we got to something I felt was absolutely perfect and this was verified by the opinions of others. Also, be super diligent with buyers. Finally, make sure that you have enough money and resources to get your products into stores.
DFN: In the January 2018 issue of In Style, Laverne Cox stated that the best beauty advice from the set of Orange Is the New Black. May you please give our readers a piece of advice that you gave to Laverne Cox?
Wright: I love my TV wife! I am so proud of her accomplishments in the world as a trans woman and also just as a human being. I beyond delighted to tell the story of Sophia and Crystal with her. The main thing we talk about is moisture, moisture, moisture! On the set (especially under the hot lights and with the constant hair manipulation) it is easy for hair (especially textured hair) to break off. Keeping your hair hydrated and moisturized is the key to maintaining healthy hair.
DFN: What advice would you give people who would like to become entrepreneurs and/or enter the entertainment industry?
Wright: Do the work! Being in the beauty industry or entertainment industry has little to do with the razzle-dazzle that you see in the magazines, movies and television shows. It takes years of grit, sweat, hard work and failures. I have been on a lot of fancy television shows over the course of my career, but there are many shows (maybe hundreds of shows) that I did not get. Also, keep your physical body healthy in order to obtain mental focus and stamina. In addition, connecting with people with a variety of strengths and skill sets is very important. Finally, you need to know that the race is not a sprint—it is a marathon. There are no shortcuts to get to the end.
We would like to thank Tanya Wright for taking the time to interview with Detroit Fashion News! Be sure to follow @tanyattwright on Instagram, @tanyaTTwright on Twitter, and @Tanya Wright on Facebook. In addition, be sure to follow @hairiette on Instagram, @HAIRiette on Twitter, and @hairietteofharlem on Facebook.
Photos are all courtesy of HAIRiette of Harlem LLC
Written by Kelechi Uchendu