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For Black Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting Magic Makers who are leaving indelible marks in entrepreneurship, entertainment, and education and we think The Doux’s Maya Smith is a perfect fit.

Maya Smith x The Doux

Maya Smith/ Source: The Doux

Smith is the CEO and co-founder of the”sucka-free” line that’s effective on natural coils, kinks, and straight hair and inspired by Hip-Hop and the ’90s.

Over the years Smith has continuously disrupted the haircare business with her smartly packaged, highly effective products and now she’s done it again with her Press Play Thermal Styling System. 

Maya Smith x The Doux

Source: The Doux

Developed in part with a licensed dermatologist, The Doux boasts that Press Play is the industry’s first heat protection, anti-humidity, and bonding technology system formulated specifically for textured hair.

We did our research and noticed that it’s garnering rave reviews from people who enjoy seeing their curls bounce back after silk presses and blowouts. Press Play users in particular think it adds shine, makes their presses silky smooth, and cuts down on the use of high heat while straightening.

With that in mind, BOSSIP recently chatted with Maya Smith about The Doux’s origin story, the brand’s revolutionary Press Play collection, and everything that set this ’90s-inspired haircare line apart.

As we continue highlighting sistas slaying in their respective fields throughout April, meet this Magic Maker who Mousse Def knows what she’s doing.

–Dani Canada

 

BOSSIP: Let’s talk about your passion project, The Doux. You went from working as a licensed cosmetologist to making this hair care line, tell us about your beginnings as an entrepreneur.

Maya Smith: I really do believe if you are in the beauty field, especially if you’re independent, you’re like an entrepreneur whether you like it or not because you’ge got to find a lot of creative ways to stimulate your income and supplement it when you’re in the salon industry. So by the time I started working with The Doux, my husband was stationed in Germany, and there was just a real need for us to create more of a safe space for the people that were there. I was serving a big military community, and they had a different lifestyle. They needed to get their hair done in and out. It had to dry a lot faster.

And so I started working with a group of chemists, just really using my customer’s feedback on what they needed, to create the natural look, the whole natural, the natural movement was emerging. This was in 2008, ’09. So things were really new, and there weren’t a million products out there at the time. Really took way too long to grow, there were several steps involved with getting their hair done. So I created The Doux just really to address how to get simple solutions for my clients that only required one product.

That’s really where we started to work with Bonita Afro Balm, and why I developed our number one seller now, Mousse Def Texture Foam. I created these products to really address that need of being able to wear the natural look with salon quality products, but to do it much faster.

I love the names, the packaging, and how it’s all ’90s-inspired. Talk to me about the inspiration behind that.

What’s important is that the products, number one, reflect the person that created them. Obviously, an artist that happens to do hair. I would definitely say hip-hop culture, and art and design are my strongest influences. So of course that’s reflected in the packaging, but more importantly, I feel like the people that we serve, women of color, and people with textured hair really disrupt every environment we walk into. Any space that we show up in, we disrupt.

2019 Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show

Source: Erika Goldring / Getty

So I wanted the product to do the same thing. I figured if I don’t fit in anywhere I go, why should my products? So what you see with The Doux is really not just a reflection of my aesthetic and my point of view as an artist, but it’s also really a nod to the people that I serve, and the music, and art, and culture that we love.

 

Let’s talk about some of your bestsellers. What products really set The Doux apart?

One of the things that’s really been a disruptor for the whole curly hair category is Mousse Def, it’s our number one seller. It is also the number one black-owned mousse in the category, the only one ahead of us is Shea Moisture. What’s different about Mousse Def is we really did in 2000 what? 2018? We started to just do videos right from the salon, I was actually showing people how to use the products. And so no one at the time was using curl foams at all to style curly hair because there was this assumption that mousse wouldn’t work for our hair.

And so because Mousse Def was formulated so differently and you could use one product, you didn’t need to use a gel or a leave-in, you could just use that one product, we really have, as a brand, revolutionized the way the entire curly hair category. The way the culture is styling their hair really does come from the series of videos that we did on YouTube called the Mousse Def Mixed Tapes. That was 2017, 2018. So I don’t have a problem taking credit for the fact that every brand in this category now has a mousse and a gel that came from that set of videos.

 

We really influenced, as a brand, the way that everyone with curly hair is styling it. You can’t style curly hair, you don’t see any styling videos without someone using a gel or a mousse, and that really came from just the way that I styled hair in the salon. Before that everyone was using curl creams, and butters, and shaves, and really oily products that wouldn’t dry. But what sets The Doux apart, and why that product is the number one seller, is just doing curly hair from a professional perspective in real time, I was able to develop something that worked for every hair type, every person that sat in my chair.

Instead of approaching the market from the bird’s eye view or making assumptions about my consumer, I knew her. She was somebody that was paying me to get these results. So Mousse Def is number one. We have two now in the top 10 for Mousses. Crazy Sexy Curl is right behind it, the Honey Mousse. There’s B Girl Curl Custard, which is another top seller. And then we can’t forget about Big Papa, which Mousse Def is number one, and then Big Papa is number two.

So now we have four products that are in the top 20 in this category. So it’s really rare for one brand to have that many heavy hitters in the top of the category, and we’re really proud of that just because I understand, I have so much respect for the other brands that are at that show. It means a lot to us to be able to stand that tall in the category.

 

I can imagine that gives you a great feeling of accomplishment to have these products stand out amongst the rest.

Absolutely. But even more than that to have the respect of my professional community. It’s one thing for everybody to love the products, but I’m also looking over my shoulder at other stylists who use the product. And what they think about it, really I care more than anything about even how professionals are using The Doux, and to get their nod of approval is priceless for us.

I want to talk all things Press Play because this is the new line with this revolutionary duplex bonding technology. What does that entail?

This is the first of its kind, and I can say that proudly because I’ve been in this industry for almost three decades, and I’ve used everything there is to use. When it comes to straightening textured hair, I know you’ve probably had a press and curl or a silk press before.

Traditionally, we’re trying to keep the frizz away, we’re trying to keep our hair from swelling up. But the reason why so many people are afraid to heat style their hair is because the curls don’t come back. And typically the curls don’t come back because the hair isn’t strong enough to stand up to keep styling. So what’s different about Press Play is it’s not only the first of its kind because it’s the first developed by a licensed dermatologist, it’s a bonding system that incorporates humidity resistance and heat protection.

And anytime you see those two components in other brands, it’s one or the other. We’re the first to combine not only the bond treatment, which is something that we do in the salon before we do a silk press, which you should, but we’re also addressing that hair swelling in the middle of the week. We’re also addressing that curl reversion, and we’re making sure that our consumer that likes to wear her hair curly 80%, 90% of the time isn’t afraid to play with heat because she’s confident her curls will come back.

Talk to me about some of the products in this line like the Gangster Wrap Foaming Wrap Lotion and The One Pass Heat Protection Spray. 

Yeah. So I could start from the beginning. Our Press Rewind is our Curl Retention Shampoo. So there’s Press Rewind, and then there’s Fast Forward. Those are the two that really kick off the treatment, the bonding part of the treatment. And those are the things that strengthen the hair so that once we start applying heat, it’s strong enough. A lot of times when we’re talking about doing a press or a blowout, all of the heat protection, the energy goes to after the hair is blown out, but once it’s dry.

And the science of how a silk press really works, and stays straight without ruining your curls, most of that happens while the hair is still wet. So what we did is, instead of making that bonding a separate treatment, we took Press Rewind and Fast Forward and put the treatment into the shampoo and conditioner process. So there’s those two products. When you do a silk press, the shampoo and conditioner for most people really aren’t that important, it’s the most important part in Press Play because that’s where the bonding bond order is.

And then Just Glaze is a heat protection and serum. So instead of using a really thick silicone, which makes the hair hotter, we have something that’s more water-based that helps to smooth the cuticles and protect the hair from the heat. Another thing that we’ve done with Press Play is included in the system what we call the Silent Treatment, which is really cool because if you press your hair all the time, you want it to stay straight. So what the Silent Treatment does is it helps to eliminate frizz for a month.

So four to five shampoos, you can continue to wash and repress your hair and it gives you an extended life on that humidity resistance. Which is really important if you are a silk press girly that wants to have a silk press past silk press season. So if you want to have your silk press all summer, you can because the Silent Treatment keeps your hair from reacting to the humidity. One Pass Press, OPP, is probably my favorite next to the shampoo and conditioner because, like you said, it’s like if your heat protection spray, oil sheen, and setting spray had a baby, it’s what we call a bi-phase product.

So it nurtures the hair, and protects it, and sets it so that when you’re pressing, you get hold, but you also get moisture. And it’s the lack of moisture that really causes those hot spots. So when you see somebody, and the root is curly, and then it’s straight, and then curly again, that’s because there’s a lack of hydration in the hair shaft, and so the heat isn’t consistent. OPP keeps the hair shaft consistent from the root to the end, and so that it’s eliminating those little hot spots.

And then finally there’s Doux Drop, which is our shine mist that also has heat protection in it. So if your hair is a little drier, it’s a really shiny product, more of a silicone serum that sprays for shine. So that will be your finisher. And then I thought really long about whether or not I would do a foam, because obviously Press Play is more for the silk press, but I really didn’t want to alienate the girl who’s wearing her hair straight, but still has a relaxer.

 

So I decided to include Gangster Wrap because Gangster Wrap is for my doobie girlies, the old-school Dominican roller set. And my girls who rock pixies, my mom, she relaxes in the back, but the top part she presses, she wears a pixie. So I really took my experience from behind the chair and tried to translate it to the lifestyles of the people that I’m really serving. And that’s why there’s so many pieces to this line because I wanted to make sure that everybody who wanted a straight option could approach it in the way that they saw fit instead of having that process dictated to them.

So even if you see on social media and in our press kit, we have these different architect archetypes to give our consumer an opportunity to identify with where she fits on the straight styling spectrum so she could pick the products and the process that works for her.

I love that, and I love that you decided to include the relaxed girlies in there with the foaming wrap lotion because I do feel like they sometimes feel left out. 

Right. And the relaxed girlies can play too. Even if you don’t press, you can play. You don’t have to ever use heat with the Press Play System at all. There are girls that are all-natural, and if you just use the shampoo and conditioner, and Just Glaze, it’s still a great bonding treatment for people who don’t want to straighten. And like you said, there’s a whole generation of girls that were never relaxed, and now they have all these long, beautiful inches and they want to try something different.

I really think part of the natural hair movement really should be much more about freedom and choice. So I want to support people with textured hair, whatever route they choose to go, we want to be there to provide solutions for them. And also the stylist community. As a stylist, I had clients that had relaxers, or had Brazilian blowout treatment, and were half natural, half relaxed. There was a whole combination of needs for people with textured hair. So Press Play is the one system that really anyone can use that has those concerns.

So as we wrap up, this is Black Women’s History Month, and since you’re one of Black Women’s History Month Magic Makers, we’d like to ask; what does black girl magic mean to you?

I will say that when it comes to being a black woman, for me, black girl magic is about doing what we’ve always done. It’s taking what we have, and making what we want out of it. It’s really starting with almost nothing, and having the confidence in ourselves, and the collaboration with other black women in our community to make something out of nothing. It’s almost a two-fold thing for me.

It is this innovation that we have just as individuals because it’s in us culturally, but it’s also being able to leverage and lean in on the collaboration of other black women. We have this amazing sense of community that honestly, I don’t think it exists anywhere else. And it’s us being able to forge those relationships, using our community to create more. I really think that’s the magic, it’s us individually and us collectively.

Where can we get more information on you and The Doux?

You can go to Thedoux.com. We’re at @ILoveTheDoux on Instagram and on TikTok, and the Press Play collection right now is exclusively at Walmart and Target, and Thedoux.com. You can look out for us hopefully in the near future in your local beauty supply.





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