INTERVIEW: Treasure Tress – product box for Kinky Curly Hair

I was frustrated with the lack of quality products for natural hair and the poor customer service experienced when buying products. So I took things in to my own hands and started TreasureTress UK in November 2015, says Jamelia Donaldson, Founder.

I met Jamelia at an African Technology Business Network (ATBN) event focussed on up and coming online businesses. Jamelia was on the panel and I thought the concept of her business was perfect for my blog, so I asked for an interview to find out more! It wasn’t easy to match up our schedules so we settled for a telephone interview. On a cold January night in London this was the best (and warmest) option.  Despite her car being broken into (but not stolen), Jamelia still showed up for the call, so we jumped straight in…

Women are at the forefront of this latest natural movement; but children seem to be at the heart of TreasureTress?

Initially TreasureTress was supposed to be for young girls because I wanted my niece to grow up knowing how to take care of her natural hair. I only learnt how to take care of my natural hair at university and didn’t want her to wait that long before feeling comfortable with her hair texture.

“We focus on young girls as a starting point for everything we do. There is already lots of  natural hair information for women. Young girls are growing up in an era where they are susceptible to social media; which also represents an opportunity to engage them to celebrate natural hair.”

A TreasureTress Mini-Me

Who else does TreasureTress cater for?

There’s a monthly ‘Mini-Me’ subscription box for young girls, aged 2-9 years.  After so much positive response from older women we expanded the range, creating two additional boxes for ‘Tweens’ aged 10-18 years and for the ‘Qweens’ aged 19 years and older.

After high demand, Tweens and Qweens were added.

How does TreasureTress work?

You can subscribe throughout the year. If you order your box before the third of any month, you’ll receive it within that month, otherwise it will come the following month. It’s a rolling subscription, renewing every month but you’re notified about this via email. You can cancel or pause your subscription at any time, so if you’re on holiday or don’t need products each month you can pause and continue later. We also educate, by sending weekly newsletters and information cards.

“The relationship with our subscribers is quite intimate; there’s a constant dialogue”.

What products are in the TreasureTress boxes?

I have regular conversations with our subscribers about what they think of the service and useful products. Based on the feedback, I decide which products go into the box each month which usually comprises, a shampoo, conditioner, two styling products such as a gel and oil/serum.


Beyond the subscription boxes, how do you engage with your customers?

Last year we launched the Mini-Me VIP Tea Party, for ages 2-11 years. We invite mothers and their daughters to central London for Afternoon Tea. It’s so nice for young black / mixed-race girls to experience having Afternoon Tea with their mothers – something they may not do regularly. We also discuss hair and do product demonstrations.

Our Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties, sell out all the time. Mothers have said how positive it’s for their daughters to be in an environment with other little girls who look like them, celebrating their hair.

Why the name ‘TreasureTress’?

It’s a play on words [‘treasure chest’]. I want women and girls to treasure their tresses / hair. Getting to know your natural hair and discovering new products is an adventure. When you think of treasure: luxury, gems, gold and diamonds come to mind and I want our subscribers to value their hair in the same way.

What’s the TreasureTress ethos?

Our tag line is ‘the hunt is over’, we’re helping women find products that work for them, through a luxurious customer experience. A lot of thought goes into the box presentation.

“Growing up, I was always obsessed with hair but didn’t have access to the products and YouTube wasn’t around back then”.

Do you operate only in the UK?

That was the idea, but we now have subscribers in the Middle East, America and the rest of Europe, especially France.

Do you work with British haircare brands?

We work with British and American, established and new brands. I use brands that I’m familiar with and tried myself. I’m always on the hunt for new brands and ask for samples to try before recommending.

“I had a few years of being a product junkie, which set me up perfectly for this business!”



The main highlight of running TreasureTress?

There are so many, but is has to be the Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties.

The biggest lesson you’ve learnt?

Trusting my instincts. I worked in finance and tried to build TreasureTress at the same time, but I knew finance wasn’t my purpose. I was saving money and set a deadline of when I’d be working for myself and be in charge of my own time. I stuck to that deadline!

What’s in store for 2017?

Hopefully more collaborations and there will be more Mini-Me VIP Tea Parties.

We’ll be launching our first event for teenagers (Tweens) in April this year, it won’t be a tea party but we’re still working on the format. We’re not hosting hair events just for the sake of it, there’s always a deeper message behind what we do.


You can keep up with all the TreasureTress events and get 10% off your first months subscription box, using my special discount code ADIASPORA.

Ad+s Diaspora Blog:

Snippets of an African legacy

Twitter: @adsdiaspora



Back to school

American rapper Jermaine Cole (J. Cole) is well cemented in the hip hop music world. I started listening to his mix tapes while living in America and remember all the hype about him due to his route to fame. Rejected by Jay-z years before and then after perfecting his craft, finally being signed by the rap mogul, it wasn’t really the ‘rags to riches story’ that made him stand out, but becoming a university graduate before receiving a record deal. There are several rappers who went into higher education including, Lil’ Wayne, Ludacris, Talib Kweli, Common, Chuck D and Ice Cube; but being educated is not celebrated as much as having ‘bling’ and fast cars, in the world of hip hop.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, J. Cole commented that if he had the usual story of growing up in the ghetto, selling drugs to survive etc., he would’ve been a lot easier to market. No doubt it would’ve been a major jewel in his hip hop treasure chest of credibility. However, being formally educated and president of the Pan-African society at his university, hasn’t been a major hindrance in his career so far.

Nearly ten years ago researchers at Harvard University conducted a study on the perceived meaning of ‘acting white’ in 20 high schools across America, and defined the term as follows:

“Acting white” — generally understood as the situation in which black students face ridicule from their peers for engaging in behaviours allegedly considered to be characteristic of whites, such as earning good grades, raising their hand in class, reading books, or taking an interest in the fine arts.”

Over the last 20 years a few social scientists have mentioned that black students deliberately underperform in their education, to maintain their ‘blackness’ amongst their peers. Harvard’s research concluded that high achieving black students were accused of ‘acting white’ not only because they had good grades, but equally for the way they speak, the music they listen to, books they read and other personal habits. The research went on to say that black students are more likely to believe that personal habits, including those mentioned, determine racial authenticity.

A few days ago, this viral video captured the exasperation of a black lady, essentially asking what does ‘speaking white’ actually mean? Here is a snippet of what she said; the rest is in the video.

 “I know it’s something we don’t like to talk about but having proper diction doesn’t belong to the Caucasian race. That really gets under my skin. Having proper diction is what you’re supposed to do.”


Earlier this year, 17 year-old Kwasi Enin, the son of Ghanaian immigrants to America was accepted by eight Ivy League Universities: Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Princeton and Cornell. You may have heard the buzz around Kwasi, especially when he finally made his choice and decided to go to Yale University. Kwasi’s parents also faced the press and his father stated in a CNN article:

“People think Kwasi is like an angel or somebody who was sheltered. Really, we gave him a lot of freedom, even though at the same time we were very strict with him in terms of academics and the way he behaved. We only pray that going forward he will stay focused and not be distracted.”

Speaking about Kwasi’s 14-year-old sister, Adwoa, he also declared: “I told her, Look, I believe you can do better than him!”


Do the stereotypes of white students and those from ethnic backgrounds still hold true today?

Is Kwasi ‘speaking white’ in the video?

In England, there was a call from the Education Select Committee, for schools to introduce longer school days, especially for white working class students, who are underperforming in comparison to their ethnic counterparts. The Committee’s report stated that poor white students are now the worst academically performing group in the country, however the fact that poor students from ethnic backgrounds are starting to achieve better grades indicates that improvement is possible. According to the Education Select Committee this is how the figures stack up:

Poor pupils achieving at least 5 A-C grades at GCSE level:

White British 32% (28.3% boys; 37% girls)

Indian 62%

Pakistani 47%

Black African 51%

Black Caribbean 42%


The issue of poorly educated students (whatever their race) isn’t just down to culture, if schools are adequately resourced and have good teachers then any child can excel. Parents also have to play a role, Kwasi’s parents are active in the education of their children but not all parents care, with some believing that education only takes place in a building with the word ‘School’ on the front gate. We’ve all acted a certain way at school to be accepted by one group or another, but whether we like it or not, every race is diverse containing people with various talents; black people can do more than sing, dance and run!

When we see black people achieving in areas outside of music and sport, it’s not because they are ‘acting white’, it’s because they are being themselves and is all that should be required. The perception of what it means to be black is being remoulded, but maybe black people are too hung up on who is / isn’t ‘acting white’. This debate, which happens in schools and among adults too, doesn’t provide answers to how we can collectively progress but is just divisive.



Ad+s Diaspora

Always from a colourful perspective