How One Young Woman Learned To Love Herself, Embraced Natural Hair and Became an Entrepreneur In The Process

Whitney Lubin is a graduate of Florida State University, and is definitely a hair expert. She and her stylist sister share duties running a hair business. At one point, Lubin was actually active as a stylist, but with time, she rounded her role down to business manager. The one-time International Affairs major prides herself on her business and mane sense.

Unlike other hair specialists, Lubin not only emphasizes the appearance of the hair, but also the well-being of the inner self. It’s not for nothing that she has a verse from the Song of Solomon 4:7 highlighted on her website. It reads: “You are altogether beautiful, my darling. And there is no blemish in you.” She understands that looking good on the outside has a direct relation with how one perceives oneself.

She recalls getting her first hair relaxer when she was nine or ten years old. “It was my dad who wanted me to get the relaxer and not my mother,” she recalls. “At the time I just saw it as a annoying grownup thing to do. Getting my hair braided was something I took to be something that all black women did. It was a bonding experience and I loved every hairstyle.”

Today, those who log on Lubin’s website DhatLook, look through her large inventory of hair pieces to enhance their hair grooming experience. But they also come for the hair care instruction videos and self-love messages that she posts. She discussed DhatLook, entrepreneurship, natural hair and its correlation with overall self-image.

What made you start DhatLook?
When I first started DhatLook, it really was just a place I wanted to be able to share all the interesting and inspiring online content I found, and share my own original content relating to my beauty and hair discoveries. In particular I wanted to showcase black beauty. I wanted to create a place where a younger version of me could visit and see black beauty be exalted. Growing up in Pembroke Pines, FL there was a very pervasive social regard to beauty as being to being about skin complexion. I can remember getting defensive whenever I encountered someone who said “You look Haitian,” or “You dress Haitian”. I started to associate these comments with my dark skin complexion because my siblings didn’t receive the same remarks. In the Haitian community I was aware of the ideal to achieve this lighter brighter complexion with the use of creams that included ingredients like mercury and hydroquinone. Substances that have been proven to have adverse affects on our health and skin after prolong use. I watched as my generation grew up in a culture that promoted this whole yellow bone, red-bone ideal. I was hearing this preference in our music, seeing it in our movies, and although the young idealistic me rebelled against this social construct, I didn’t think I could do anything about it. So the first opportunity I had to move from that area I did, and moved to Tallahassee for school.

And in moving there…
While attending Florida State University, I was introduced to a whole new atmosphere that differed from my experience in South Florida. I was able to volunteer and be amongst fellow black women of various shades and really see our diversity not as a competition, but as divine art. My confidence in my beauty evolved from youthful rebellion against the majority thought to personal confidence and pride. Going natural was a pivotal moment that also allowed me to embrace my hair, and beauty despite the stigmas. As I evolved I wanted to share the joy my confidence gave me with other young women like myself who are surrounded by these images and messages that allude to them that they’re not enough in the eyes of some people. That they’re not beautiful enough for some people. If there is one thing I’d like to share via DhatLook is that young women today we don’t need to fight to prove to everyone that we are beautiful. We don’t have to make everyone see us as valuable. We just have to know it, and feel it for ourselves. Maya Angelou said it best “We teach people how to treat us”. And if we want people to see that we are beautiful, we have to first believe it, and act like it too.

As someone who is so very knowledgeable about the hair industry, would you say that there are certain hair looks that go with certain face shapes, and some that do not?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that certain hair looks go best with one person or another. With hairstyles the objective many of times is to accentuate an oval face or give the illusion of a more oval face shape, as this is considered the most desirable look. Over the years my experience has lead to the belief that the most fashion forward women we admire don’t follow these rules. I really think the majority of beauty tips we receive are meant to guide us on learning how to be comfortable with our beauty, but we’re not obligated to stick to them once we’ve developed our confidence. So by all means if you really want to get bangs to hide your forehead, go ahead if that is what will make you happy, but understand that your forehead is not likely to change, your better option is to change how you feel about your forehead. Do that and you’ll find you’ll be able to rock any hairstyle. When you have a talented hairstylist on your team you’ll be able to tailor any look for your individual tastes. The final objective is always to pick styles that accentuate your favorite attributes not hairstyles that hide something.

There’s been some concern on the part of some that with so many people going natural, that the weave and extension industries are going to suffer. What’s your perspective on this?
I think that the industries that are more likely to suffer with this recent natural hair movement are companies that produce chemical products like relaxers, and companies whose products have ingredients that do more harm than good to hair. People these days have so much access to information we won’t just blindly consume what is marketed to us anymore. The weave and extension business I believe will thrive in this new environment. As someone who has been natural for 4+ years my protective style of choice to grow out my natural has been and continues to be weaves and wigs. What I think is happening in the industry is that women are becoming more educated in terms of hair maintenance and are going to take better care of their hair while in their weaves and wigs so that they can fully reap the benefits of these hairstyles. Weave and extensions especially will continue to be an option for women who want versatility with their hairstyles but don’t necessarily want to permanently alter their hair to achieve a desired look.

Lubin rocking a natural hairstyle.

DhatLook fans have enjoyed your YouTube videos which chronicle your natural hair journey. What made you decide to share that part of yourself with your clients and other viewers?
I think chronicling my natural hair journey was important because it allowed me to have something tangible that I could look back on, and use to compare and see progress through. A fear that plagues many newly natural women is this assumption that their hair isn’t growing or can’t grow or there isn’t any progress in the health and condition of their hair. Keeping this video journal really helped me keep myself accountable when it came to my hair goals, and kept me excited when I looked back on my achievements.

Were you named for the singer Whitney Houston?
[Laughter] Yes. My parents didn’t have a name picked out at the time, but Whitney Houston just so happened to be on the cover of a magazine in the hospital waiting room, so when it came time to naming me they choose Whitney in hopes I would be as talented and successful as the late Whitney Houston.

What hair look of this diva do you most like? I’ve seen throwback photos of her in soft-curls in her modeling days, then the natural look for her debut, then afterwards the permed look.
I like all her looks, she was always good at owning her look. But my absolute favorite was the curly hair she was rocking during her “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” video. It was young, fun, and just a little bit wild.

What do you wish all women knew about their hair?
Everything that we consider healthcare can be applied to hair care. I want all women to know that healthy hair rather than “pretty looking hair” is the most important thing you need to concentrate on, because from there you have a canvas to achieve various looks. The most basic thing our hair needs is water, but you should learn how to apply proper hair moisturizing techniques into your routine. There is no magic product or pill for your hair. Your hairstylist is only capable of doing so much in the time they have with you, the majority of your hair-care takes place at home. It’s your responsibility to make sure your using the right techniques.

For those who prefer sew-ins, how can they protect their hair, while having those?
One of the most important things you can do before you install a sew-in is give your hair an overindulgence of TLC. I would deep condition more vigorously the month before an install just so my hair can be in optimal condition. This is because depending on how long you wear your sew-in, you won’t be able to take care of your hair in the same way. And immediately after taking out your sew-in you should repeat and intensely moisturize and condition. If you have leave out finding heat free ways to achieve looks are a must, and if you really can’t avoid using heat on your leave-out than I suggest using extreme caution using heat protectant, and intensive deep treatments weekly to maintain healthy condition of hair.

Now, you’re in a better position to spot trends than most. What have you noted about the hair arena of late?
Women have taken control of educated themselves on haircare. In terms of hair trends, I think we’ve seen an increase of natural and relaxed African American women using protective styles to achieve health and length. Wigs and weaves are staples have always been staples for many women. In today’s face paced environment women want hairstyles that don’t require sitting for long periods of time to achieve. We’ve seen a reemergence of the Janet Jackson Poetic Justice Braids/twist. Young girls to older professional women are rocking this style. Another trend is the use of lace closures for sew-ins in preference of having leave out. With the proper application women are able to achieve a more flawless sew-in. The lace closures allow women to mimic the appearance of a scalp but still achieve a full install. This is a very big trend within the natural hair community for women who want to go with a straight hairstyle but don’t want to have to go through the trouble of applying heat to their hair and/or blending.

You’ve stressed that you don’t want women to think that putting on a piece of hair is the only way to look good, and that there is something much more to it than that.
You have to take care of your hair in the same manner you take care of your teeth, your skin, your body, your mind, and your spirit. Although it is your crown and glory, don’t let it define you. Especially for African American women there’s nothing you should be afraid of concerning your natural hair, and nothing to be ashamed of if you choose to continue to relax, but we should never become hostage to the consequences of bad hair care practices, or bad hair health. I recently featured on my blog an article written by The Free Movement on this issue. How we feel about ourselves should not be dependent on what we see, but what we know about ourselves. Societies opinions and trends of style and beauty come and go at a rapid pace, trying to keep up can be a tiring battle. What never goes out of style is confidence, and confidence leads women to take better care of themselves. When you live an all around healthy lifestyle that encompasses mental, physical, and spiritual health , confidence is a natural by-product.

What do your parents think of your entrepreneurial ventures?
My parents are business owners and have always been supportive of whatever I’ve chosen to do. They continue to inspire me and motivate me to take risks and not set limitations to success.

You’re extremely passionate about doing philanthropy in the community. What are your latest activities in that area?
As a graduate from Florida State University I try to continue to be active in the community in whatever capacity that is available. I am a member of SISTUHS, Inc., a community service organization for women of color founded on the campus of Florida State University. I volunteer with the local Public Broadcasting Service(PBS) station WPBT Channel 2 in Aventura Florida on a monthly basis so that they can continue to provide our community quality programming that is focused on highlighting our community needs, and spotlighting our diversity. My business partner Jasmine Wheeler is also an inspiration to me because her mother is a caner survivor. Cervical cancer is a major health obstacle to have overcome as a woman, and we are currently working on a project to celebrate these women, we welcome other individuals and businesses who would like to collaborate.

As a beauty entrepreneur, what do you wish to pass to those wishing to go along the same path as yourself?
Have a plan! That doesn’t mean you have to have a 8 page business plan double spaced and typed up. What it means is that you should have an idea of where you want your business to go. It’s important to have a plan because it keeps you from delaying from taking those bold moves you inevitably will have to make to run a successful and competitive business. In the world of business timing can be everything, and having a business plan can be a world of help when it’s time for you to take a leap of faith regarding your business. Another major thing is that there are free-low cost resources everywhere. The Small Business Administration–SBA—is probably the first place I’d suggest someone go to when they have a business idea. They’ll help you flesh it out, and guide you to the proper resources or networking opportunities. This is a local state supported entity that’s sole purpose is to help create more businesses.

You don’t have to have a Master’s of Business Administration to run a successful business, you just need to be an avid learner, and passionate about your vision. Final note I’d like to make is that you’ll find doors opening up everywhere when you make it a mission to be a community member and not only a business owner.

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Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by kreyolicious

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