Rica Elysee is a force to be reckoned with.
She is a first-generation American whose family migrated from Haiti. Elysee understands what it takes to start, manage, grow, lead and transition businesses successfully. As the Editor in Chief & owner of Boston Naturals, Elysee is creating a path to change how men and women live healthy and naturally.
In a few words, who is Rica Elysee?
I am a Community Advocate, natural hair aficionado, independent thinker, dream catcher, Expert Savvy Leader and Entrepreneur
What was it like growing up with natural hair and dark skin? And was there ever a time you struggled with your beauty?
Growing up as a young girl of color was interesting for me. Being first generation American I had to deal with the beauty standards of two cultures: American and Haitian. In school my hair was the butt of jokes by the time I was in the 12th grade since my mother would not let me get a relaxer. In college I experimented with a relaxer and ended up chopping it off by my Junior year. It wasn’t until my trip to visit my grandmother when was growing my hair out did I realize that she connected my hair in a fro to being poor. It was a rude awakening of just how similar yet different the standards of beauty were between the two cultures. It led me down a path of learning to define beauty on my own.
How did you get started in the beauty business?
I took over a local meetup group with about 40 active members just creating free educational workshops around hair care. It transformed into a lucrative business after participating in International Natural Hair Meet Up Day.
What services do you offer through Boston Naturals?
Currently we offer workshops, events, and online resources. It is my hope that with time we will be able to provide more services and do more throughout the community using beauty to mobilize the change we would like to see.
How do you feel about the way black women are regarded in terms of beauty by society overall?
Throughout history the European standards have driven the definition of beauty. It has made it challenging for women of color especially black women to feel confident about their natural beauty. Today the conversations about beauty are being had and are changing the definition and experience.
I look at beauty being something that each person figures out on their journey to self-acceptance.
What advice do you have for women who want to start a business in beauty?
The beauty industry is one of delicate relationships. Be sure to build them as honestly as possible to have the best support.
Where do you see your business in 5 or 10 years?
In the next couple of years it is my hope to use my passion for beauty and social justice to build a foundation to continue the work.