We actually managed to find a time that fit us both, so I'm very proud to present an interview with Nightblooming!
Igor: Hello NightBlooming, thank you for taking the time to do an interview!
NightBlooming: It’s my pleasure! I’ve been a long-time follower of your amazing hair progress and your blog, so it’s very cool to be interviewed for it.
Igor: *Laughing* No, seriously?! I know you are very busy, especially right around the book launches, so I really appreciate you taking the time for this.
NightBlooming: My schedule is pretty insane between my full-time day job, NightBlooming, and writing. I’m grateful we managed to make an interview work.
Igor: So I think we all want to hear about the new books. What can you tell us about them?
NightBlooming: The first thing I want to give is a huge shoutout to my publisher, Wise Ink and my Project Manager / Editor, Laura Zats. Working with Wise Ink enabled to take my books so much farther than I could have on my own, and things have gone so well that I’ll be using them to publish my fantasy novels. Rehabilitating Damaged Hair Naturally came out on August 31st. This book began several years ago as an 8-page article, then became a 31-page PDF for sale in the store, and now is a professionally-published 71-page comprehensive guide that covers not only restoring damaged hair, but also stimulating and supporting new hair growth.
Igor: What made you write the original article?
NightBlooming: The original damaged hair article was more a recap of what I’d done to turn my hair around. I started using chemical dyes when I was 11 and permanent chemical dyes at 13. Between that and rough handling, I utterly destroyed my hair. It had been at hip-length and broke off all the way up to my armpits by the time I was in college. After switching to henna, doing a ton of research and developing my own products to put it back on the mend, I realized that I was by far not the first or last person in that boat.
Igor: What about the second book?
NightBlooming: Coloring Hair Naturally with Henna & Other Herbs releases on September 27th. This is another book that started as an article of 13 pages, that is now clocking in at 131 pages with a ton of color photos. It has been an absolute labor of love, but I can sincerely say it is the most comprehensive guide to natural coloring in existence.
Igor: Ah, so that one is right around the corner then! Do you see it as an extension to your shop?
NightBlooming: In a lot of ways, it’s almost the other way around! The products in the shop were ones I developed while trying to mend the damage and get the copper-red I love without chemicals. During all my research I started making products and giving them to others, and they like them. The herbal side of the shop really expanded from there.
Igor: Ah, that’s interesting how things started. I think we have all noticed the care you put into getting the right, natural raw materials for your products. Is it hard to find manufacturers that are up to your standards?
NightBlooming:That can be very, very challenging at times. I’ve had to let go of several suppliers who have dropped their quality. I refuse to make anything I wouldn’t put on my own skin or hair. I’m uncompromising, and I like to think my customers appreciate that. The second part of this is that my first major was actually in Biology, and although that isn’t what I went into as a career, it’s still a huge passion of mine. I love experimenting, figuring out how things work, and applying this in a practical science way to natural hair care.
Igor: It seems to pay off, I mean, the Panacea salve have been such a must-have for hair-lovers for ages…
NightBlooming:*Laughs* Yeah, I think I finally realized how popular it was when people started doing memes about it.
Igor: That’s a milestone for sure! So here is a question out of personal interest: How is the aloe vera you use, pressed? With or without skin?
NightBlooming: Without the skin. I’ve an aloe plant that started life beside a dumpster when I was in college (now over a decade ago). Someone had tossed it on move-out day, and I took it in, gave it some TLC, and it kind of took over. The biggest leaves are as wide as my hand, so when I need aloe for anything I take one, skin it, blend it, and press it through a nut milk bag. That gives all the great benefits without it being super-lumpy.
Igor: I have to say, I have always been curious about what you draw inspiration from for your product names and descriptions… You really paint a picture!
NightBlooming: Thanks! Have to put that degree in English Writing to use somehow. I’m a gigantic fantasy nerd, and I’ve been an avid reader since I was little. My products draw a lot from mythology, fantasy writing, and RPG games. I’ve got products named after creatures in the Forgotten Realms, Middle Earth, and one inspired by Critical Role.
Igor: A fellow nerd *laughs* It feels like we’re working backwards a bit here, but what made you get interested in hair like this to begin with?
NightBlooming: I’ve wanted to be an elf ever since I knew what elves were. I may actually even cosplay as Tauriel. More seriously, I’ve always, always had long hair. I’ve never had it short once in my life, so when I damaged it so badly that over a foot of it broke off I was just heartbroken. It was like I’d lost part of my personal identity, and reclaiming that was reclaiming part of myself.
Igor: I think a lot of us can relate to that *laughs* It just becomes a part of you after a while, something you want to keep happy and healthy, right? So, tell us a bit about your hair and hairtype…
NightBlooming: My hair is 2a/M/ii. I used to be a much stronger 2b/2c, but henna really knocked my waves down a few notches. It’s colored with my own Fire Genasi blend, which makes my natural medium to light brown hair a copper-red. Length-wise, I tend to grow it out to about fingertip and then trim it back to tailbone. Between my ii thickness and my layers, I can’t maintain the hemline thickness I want past there.
Igor: What kind of routine do you find works the best for you?
NightBlooming: I think a lot of people, when they first find herbal hair care, just go nuts. I did. Super-elaborate routines and tons of products and treatments, but eventually I settled down into a pretty easy routine. I shampoo and condition with Max Green Alchemy Scalp Rescue three days a week and use Freya’s Salve as a leave-in after. I use Selkie Herbal Hair Detangler as a mister when I put my hair up, and then touch up my roots with Fire Genasi once a month or so. My husband trims my hair for me two or three times a year. I wear it up every day for my day job, which cuts down on the daily wear and tear.
Igor: What would you say is the best haircare advice you have encountered and you keep repeating to other people?
NightBlooming: That what you DON’T do is way more important than what you do. Your hair will grow just fine and healthy out of your head with very little effort on your part. It’s the chemical dyes, heat styling, chemical perming / straightening, and un-hair-friendly elastics and clips that cause damage. Giving those up will go so much farther than any magical hair potion.
Igor: Ah, yes that is great advice for sure. This is usually an entertaining question to get an answer to, so what was your number one hair mistake?
NightBlooming: Destroying my own hair with dye would be the first one, but since we talked about that, I’ve got two, others. My first time hennaing I only used straight lemon juice as the liquid part of the mud. My hair was so dry and my poor scalp was in agony.
Igor: Haha, ouch! That’s one of those things you never repeat…
NightBlooming: Right? I imagine this has more than a little to do with why I’m always telling people that lemon juice in henna isn’t necessary. I’ve never added it again.
Igor: What was the second thing?
NightBlooming: My first go with an ACV rinse, ah, I didn’t realize you were supposed to dilute it at like a ten-to-one ratio into water. So I poured an entire liter of ACV all over my hair and my scalp. That went over about as well as the lemon juice except I stunk like apple cider vinegar for two weeks.
Igor: *Laughs* Does it ever amaze you how you started from that mess, and now have a successful Etsy shop and two published books? I mean, you’re getting close to ten thousand positive reviews on the store… Ten thousand! Not all customers reviews anyways, so that is very impressive. Does that ever make you stop and think “Wow”?
NightBlooming: It’s such a whirlwind and sometimes when I actually stop and look at it all it’s just even more insane. That, specifically, is a credit to my husband. The day-to-day tends to wrap me up and he’s the one that always makes a point to tell me to step back and really reflect on what I’ve accomplished and be thankful for how fortunate we are. The success of NightBlooming is two parts hard work, one part luck, and one part my amazing customers. I just hit 15,000 sales, I ship packages all over the world, and I’m finally going to be a professional, published author. When I posted my first pair of hair sticks on Etsy back in 2007 I never, not once, thought it’d go this far.
Igor: So what does the future hold for NightBlooming’s hair accessories and herbal enchantments?
NightBlooming: I have so much exciting stuff coming up! The new books are obviously huge, but the next big one is going to be the new site. I’ve been on Etsy and Blogger for a long while, but am finally going to have everything rolled into one place with even more features. I’ll stay on Etsy, of course, but on my own site I’ll be able to do more things for my customers, like a newsletter, articles, and customer-rewards program. Not all the features will be live at once, but I’ll finally have a place that offers the amount of customization that both my customers and I want. After that’s settled I’ve got a few new products on deck, including brown herbal hair colors and a chelating and clarifying rise. And at some point, I’d really love to get back to making hair accessories. They’ve been on hold for so long now because of the books and I miss them.
Igor: That sounds really exciting! I can’t wait to see it all. On that note, thank you very much for taking the time to come talk to me and for letting me post this for my blog readers!
NightBlooming: It was fun! A big virtual hug for all your readers!