Deciding to go all natural for her hair care gave entrepreneur chance to share her knowledge with wider community
Tiffani Young didn’t have a straightforward path to entrepreneurship, but instead it was one with many twists and turns.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Young grew up in various parts of HRM.
“Because I went to so many different schools, I definitely had those moments of being the only Black kid in class, but thankfully I also had many positive experiences that shaped the way I am today.
“I’ve always been rooted in my community and had a passion for helping people. I thought I was going to go into social work, which is why I did my degree in Psychology and HR. I never saw myself having my own business,” says Young, now the owner of Natural Butter Bar, an all-natural haircare and skincare brand serving the Maritimes and beyond.
“ A few years ago, when I decided to stop chemically processing my hair and go natural, I had to relearn how to take care of my hair, so I was doing a lot of research and watching YouTube tutorials on what products to use on my hair. I’m the only one in my family with my hair texture, so I didn’t really have a go-to for advice. I noticed a lot of the ingredients I needed to properly care for my natural hair were not available in Nova Scotia or the Maritimes and I found myself spending a lot of money online ordering, or stocking up whenever I would go to bigger cities like Toronto.”
Young says, “I eventually got the hang of it and my hair was the healthiest it had ever been and was growing, and all my friends and family were commenting on it. In fact, even strangers started coming up to me to compliment my hair.”
It was around this time her husband also noticed her passion for natural and organic hair care was burgeoning into more than just a routine maintenance ritual, but an area of expertise for her.
“We sat down for a brainstorming session on how we could use my newfound expertise with haircare to help people and he asked me, ‘if money wasn’t a barrier, what would you do?’
“From there, we developed the concept of Natural Butter Bar. Since most organic products can be used for both hair and skin, we branded ourselves as a natural haircare and skincare shop. We wanted the Black community to find products that cater to their hair and skin types with ease in Nova Scotia or the Maritimes.”
Natural Butter Bar officially opened in 2020 amidst the pandemic and Tiffani says there were many challenges in the beginning due to supply chain and logistical issues.
“There aren’t many vendors and there was a shortage of the bottles and containers at one point, but other local businesses were supportive and helpful and connected me with other vendors. Now, we try to stay ahead and order extra even if we may not need it at the moment. It’s a learning curve.”
A strong support system is a key factor to Young’s business success. She says the wider business community, such as Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) and the Black Business Initiative (BBI), helped her immensely with the mechanics of owning and operating a business and helping her find more opportunities to get her products to a greater audience.
“They connected me with programs and opportunities I wouldn’t have found on my own. The Black Business Initiative, in particular, was great because it helped me overcome challenges many African Nova Scotians face. It also helped me showcase my products at various Black-owned, local pop-up markets, especially over the summer.”
Young say the African Nova Scotian community, and Nova Scotians in general, rallying around her has made the biggest difference.
“Four local shops started stocking my products just one month after I launched, which was a huge deal for me.”
Her family has also been supportive and understanding of her business.
“My parents, aunts, uncles are always ready to help with babysitting my two small children. My boys, even though they’re toddlers, seem to have a keen understanding of what I do already and know that sometimes I have to work long hours. My four-year-old always says, ‘Mommy has to go work for butter-butter’. It’s the cutest thing!”
Young says, “Without my husband, Butter Bar wouldn’t exist. He was the one who gave me the initial push to start and help me get rid of my self-doubts. He also has some business development experience and that definitely helped me in the initial phases.”
While when the business first opened, getting the name out there and building a market presence was the key priority. Now, the priority is serving the loyal customer base, focusing on customer retention, as well as increasing distribution channels and partnering with more local shops. Young wants to make it as convenient for the consumer as possible.
“Any way we can reduce costs for the customer, we will,” she says.
A lot of exciting things are around the corner for Butter Bar, with the Trailblazer Box launching in February. This product features a collection of natural oils and butters, unreleased lotion bars (officially launching in March) as well as hair accessories and a customized card for the giftee.
“We wanted to curate the Trailblazer Box with the intention of someone gifting it to a trailblazer in their community. Ten per cent of the profits from the sales of the Trailblazer Box go to Maritime Elite Girls Basketball Academy (MEGA), our first charitable donation. Giving back to the community is a priority for me, so I’m excited to be able to do that for the first time.”
Soaps and lotion bars are two products Young is adding to her extensive line in the near future. She also partnered with the Tribe Network to create an online community by means of a forum, where information and news about various opportunities is shared. In the near future, she hopes to host in-person classes where she helps people further understand how to use her products and what kind of oils and butters are beneficial for what purpose.
She is also passionate about diversity and inclusion and is proud to say all her products offer labels in braille. She is working on another project with universal symbols in order to offer a greater choice and freedom to the visually-impaired community when it comes to shopping.
“I feel successful when I see my customers are happy, the products are working for them, and they’re able to feel beautiful as well as represented in the market. Taking care of your hair and skin, it allows you to build self-confidence that radiates from within. I wanted to create something for everyone, but specifically for the Black community, which is often an afterthought. In Nova Scotia, we have such a rich African Nova Scotian culture and the ties run deep in our community. I want people to feel empowered and celebrate that.”