Family business promotes ‘self-love and acceptance’
Five-year-old Mya Williamson is a self-proclaimed “boss-leader.” She’s also the owner of Candy Colors Hair Wax and co-authors a series of children’s books with her parents, Briana and Matnique Williamson. “We gotta go all out for our little one—she is the sole owner, we are just her workers,” said her dad.
Mya launched the Candy Colors hair wax business in 2019. Customers have eight vibrant options to choose from: Pink! Vanilla, Purple Reign, Robin’s Egg Blue, 24K Magic, Strawberry Shortcake, Ice Blue Raspberry, Green Apple Paradise, and Grey Matter. “They all smell the same. Sweet-a-licious,” said Mya. Ingredients are organic, plant-based and toxic-free.
Customers can expect a new product available very soon.“Glow in the Dark, Green. You can put it in your hair,” said Mya. “It washes right out. You don’t need bleach—then you wouldn’t be a natural girl.”
As for the backstory of the business, “It started out online and flourished into an actual space,” said Matnique Williamson. Most recently, the Candy Colors business was chosen as one of 17 businesses for the Mall of America’s Community Commons. The tenants receive six months of free rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest.
The Williamson family would like to highlight their experience being at MOA so far. They wanted to dispel false narratives being threaded throughout mainstream media outlets. “They are sensationalizing the struggle—and the idea of business owners being down and out due to George Floyd,” said Briana Williamson.
They also expressed that some business owners were already well-established and successful.
All of the tenants at the MOA Community Commons space are working to drive business and generate foot traffic. In essence, the relationship between the tenants and MOA is mutually beneficial.
As for the impact of COVID-19, they shared: “It did affect us some, but our grind and our grit are ridiculous so we didn’t let that stop us from making our goals or stop us from pushing our daughter’s dreams. So we really didn’t focus on numbers, but more so the output that we can provide for the community.”
We asked what inspired them to establish the business for Mya. “Changing the narrative. A lot of people think you can’t own a business until you’re a certain age and we just wanted to change that stigma. We started this when she was four and she had seven books published by the time she was four. She just turned five,” said Matnique Williamson.
Both of Mya’s parents have a background in education. Her father Matnique, said, “We try to teach her as a learning individual; we both have backgrounds in education. I have my masters, she has a Ph.D.” They both graduated from Mankato State University.
Overall, the Williamson family promotes messages of self-love and acceptance. As a family, they have published a series of children’s books: “My Bald is Beautiful,” “I Love My Natural Hair,” “Natural Hair ABCs for Girls,” “Natural Hair ABCs for Boys,” “No Thank You—No Extra Germs For Me,” “We The People—From Apartheid to Black Pride” and “The Ballerina Who Lost Her Fro.”
“The Ballerina Who Lost Her Fro” is the most popular book being sold right now. The story educates readers about microaggressions that can negatively impact youth. “We have amazing reads for not only adults but children as well. We made our books flexible for children to understand and for adults to teach and read,” said Matnique Williamson.
He continued, “It started with ‘Natural Hair ABCs’ and we just focused on her hair because that was the main thing she had a problem with. So, we’re trying to immerse her in things that look like her, people that sound like her, but are still on the television and still successful.”
When asked about what motivates them every day, Matnique said, “My daughter, the fact that I get to see her happy, flourishing. It just gives me a joy I can’t explain. The work I do, to see her happy, not just me, but me and my wife. Everything we do, we do together. Just us working and seeing the result of our work.” He added, “She’s our guardian angel.”
He also encouraged people to continue to support Black businesses. “We don’t do it enough. I think it’s super important because without support how are we going to expand?
“Seriously, if we don’t invest in our own Black companies how are we ever going to see what can come next? Or what can come out of supporting someone that was starting in their first year of business.”
He ended on a hopeful note: “Don’t lose your grind; don’t lose your grit. It’s super important to surround yourself with positive people.”
Mya added, “Wakanda Forever.”
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.