By Nikki Walton
Happy Black History Month! For the next 4 weeks (forever, really), we are celebrating the #ReflectBeauties that are changing the game– specifically, the founders of industry-disrupting, Black-owned beauty brands.
Next up- the very centered, Chris-Tia Donaldson of Thank God It’s Natural!
She is a best selling author and entrepreneur, currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Thank God It’s Natural (“tgin”), a manufacturer of natural hair and skin care products, currently sold in Target, Whole Foods, Sally’s Beauty, CVS and Walgreen’s. Her best-selling book is titled, ‘This Is Only a Test: What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Faith, Love, Hair and Business.’ I had the pleasure of sitting down with Chris-Tia for our series, 5 Minutes With!
“I’m starting to learn when you work constantly without resting it’s because you unconsciously believe that you are in control and that God cannot provide for your needs. I’m becoming more aware of my trust issues when it comes to Him and learning that rest is a part of being not only kind to myself but being a good Christian as well.”
– Christ-Tia Donaldson
On her morning routine
When I first get up in the morning, I make a cup of green tea. I then put on some quiet music like Tibetan Bowls and then start my morning meditation. After that I read my daily devotional by Charles Stanley and spend time studying my bible. Once I have spent time with God, I usually head to the gym and put on a podcast like Snacks Daily so I can get caught up with all the latest business news. I try to stay off my email for as long as possible, but that’s a hard habit to break. My ultimate goal is to be able to go without checking email until after I’m dressed, but I’m a work in progress and trying to get there.
On why she started TGIN
When I graduated from Harvard Law School in 2003, I was in the midst of growing out my relaxer. As I was getting ready to start my first job after graduation, my biggest question was how was I going to wear my hair to work? Like so many black women working in corporate America, I was under an immense amount of pressure to straighten my curls in order to be perceived as professional, so I opted to wear a wig to prevent straightening my hair. Something deep down inside didn’t feel right about this, so I started doing research about how to better take care of my hair. This resulted in me writing my first book, Thank God I’m Natural: the Ultimate Guide for Caring for Natural Hair. The book took me across the country to different libraries, churches, bookstores, festivals and hair shows, where I met with women who shared their hair problems with me.
After reading the book, many of them came to trust me for my advice and started to ask, “When are you coming out with the products?” Back then, there were very few products for black women with textured hair in mainstream retail, so I set out to create them. In 2015, we launched in Target stores nationwide. I had plenty of reservations about being a non-chemist with a corporate lawyer background but I rolled up my sleeves and went into the lab and created Thank God It’s Natural. Here I am nearly 10 years later. I literally started selling products out of the trunk of my car, and now you can find tgin in close to 10,000 stores including Ulta, Target, Sally Beauty, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and on Amazon.
Today, we’re seeing that the definition of natural is changing and going natural means different things to different people. Younger women who did not grow up with the same pressures to have straight hair are rocking their hair naturally without the same reservations, and much earlier. Protective styles, wigs, and weaves also continue to be big. As a company, our mission has now evolved to focus on redefining beauty to help women be the best version of themselves. #nojudgment
On her vision for TGIN and Black and Multicultural woman going forward
This space is ever changing and we’re just looking to make sure we keep up with all the trends. We always want to make sure we’re creating products for women, especially women of color, that reflect beauty across the spectrum and not just a sliver of what society looks like. To this end, we will continue to try to make products for all hair types – wavy, curly, coily and kinky.
On the lifestyle habit that has had the biggest impact on her while becoming the BEST version of herself– #Chris-Tia2.0
Recently, I made the decision to start observing the Sabbath. This means I shut down my cell phone usually around 6:00 pm on Friday evening and don’t turn it back on for 24 hours. During this time, I reflect, relax, listen to music and or podcasts, read my bible, and do small chores etc.
I can say that in observing the Sabbath, the results I experienced were miraculous and continued to reinforce the word that I need to surrender everything to God — my company, my heart, my health, my finances, my family (Philippians 4:6-7). I’m starting to learn that when you work constantly without resting, it’s because you unconsciously believe that you are in control and that God cannot provide for your needs. I’m becoming more aware of my trust issues when it comes to Him and learning that rest is a part of being not only kind to myself, but being a good Christian as well.
On her present reading situation
The Positive of Powerful Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.
On what’s up next
I just launched a new book, This Is Only A Test: What Breast Cancer Taught Me About Faith, Love, Hair and Business. I would love it if you all could check it out on Amazon and leave a review.
The book recounts the story of how I built a multi-million beauty business while holding down my day job in corporate America, before having a side hustle was a thing. Throughout the book, I touch on how I got my products into Target, how not prioritizing self-care had a significant impact on my health, and the challenges that come with dating as a successful black woman and finding love in your 30s, among many other topics. The book is now available on Kindle, Amazon and Audible.
You can check out my website at www.christiadonaldson.com or follow me on Instagram on @tginceo.