Tracee Ellis Ross on how Pattern Beauty fills in the gaps in the natural hair community
A decade ago Tracee Ellis Ross was in transition.
On the heels of the end of the final season of the hit sitcom Girlfriends, she was ready for something new. Blessed with a set of curls that had become hair inspiration for thousands of women of color, a dream began to form: natural haircare for us, by us.
The actress, who was a proud curly girl long before it became the movement it is today, had grown up learning valuable lessons from her mother Diana Ross, a legend and hair icon in her own right. One of those lessons included the challenging reality of natural hair maintenance, and that products, especially for curls, would almost always cost her a pretty penny.
Ten years later, Ellis Ross made her first move toward turning that dream into reality, creating an official pitch for a brand that would fill a void in the natural hair market. And now the Black-ish star’s new highly anticipated natural hair care line Pattern Beauty celebrates its first launch.
So why now?
While most would say that today’s industry needs Pattern Beauty more than ever, and Ellis Ross’ timing is perfect, the Emmy-winning actress would disagree.
“It would have been the perfect timing 10 years ago,” she told The Grio at a press event on September 4 in New York City. “Let’s be clear, that this revolution that’s occurring has been here, we have been here. We are a community of people that have existed that have all over the globe.”
But her goal is not to completely change the market, in fact, Ellis Ross is simply looking to enhance and build off of a blueprint that has continued to expand over the years.
“I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. What I have now achieved that I was looking to create are formulas that have never existed,” she insists.
To achieve that goal, the star spent months and months working on the perfect formula, a process that’s been documented on the Pattern Beauty website.
“I tried 74 samples, and would take four videos per shower, get out and make another video. I’m not a chemist, nor am I a product developer, so as a result I don’t have the language to properly identify what was working and what I needed, so there came the videos.”
Earlier last week, Ellis Ross showcased a new shower experience live on Instagram, donning a nude swimsuit, and washing her hair for the masses to see. Social media couldn’t get enough.
Pattern Beauty’s inaugural roll-out features nine products created to make wash days a breeze: three conditioners (medium, heavy and light), a hydration shampoo, a leave-in, two serums, a shower brush, microfiber towel and hair clip. Her favorite of the bunch is the leave-in conditioner, which unlike most out there, won’t leave the hair heavy.
“I designed the leave-in because so many of us in the community don’t rinse out all of the conditioner or we mix our conditioner in a bottle with water to create a leave-in,” she says. “However, what a lot of people don’t know is that most conditioners are not meant to be left in your hair longer than the time they are prescribed. So they start to often have the reverse effect.”
Pattern Beauty’s leave-in does the opposite. Rather than weighing the hair down, the formula provides added curl activation, a soft hold, and seals in the hair cuticle for added shine and hydration. Ellis Ross says she even uses it on her dry hair days, mixing it with the jojoba oil serum and water, then slicking her hair in that fan-favorite bun we love to see her rocking.
But that’s not the only innovation Pattern Beauty has to offer, the sleek look and eco-friendly functionality of the packaging will make these products must-haves for any shower routine.
“I feel like the packaging conjures the legacy that we come from and the the gold conjures that legacy as well,” she says of the chic and oversized bottles that features an illustration. “The sizing is the unmet need of our community. I’m so sick of reading a package and saying use a quarter size,” she explains while describing her extensive washing process that includes separating her voluminous spirals into six separate sections. All of the shampoos and conditioners comes in large jumbo sizes, which in the process, results in the use of less packaging. “I wanted it to be eco-friendly, because curlies are eco-friendly curlies. So the plastic that the top and tube are made of are the same plastics that you can recycle. But what comes first before recycle? Reuse. So the regular size and the travel sizes, both have an opening that you can pump from the jumbo and refill. So the only thing you will ever need to buy again is the jumbo.”
And as if you needed any more convincing to add Pattern Beauty to your already large stash of hair products, the “competitive pricing” as Ellis Ross describes it, will have you sold. “I don’t know if I want to use the word affordable because I can’t determine what is affordable to you, that’s not my place, but what I can say is that the pricing is competitive, particularly for the size value which is the key to me. So the prices might seem higher than another brands, but you’re getting so much more. I don’t know about you, but for me size matters,” she jokes.
And when it comes to what’s next for the curlies, the Pattern Beauty team is already hard at work.
Phase two, featuring styling products, is already in the testing phase but Ellis Ross and her team are eager to hear from fans about what they think of the first round of products. “Our team of women, it’s just a big, bold team of women, tried to think of everything, we’ve talked through products, walked through moments in the shower in real time, but we can’t think of everything and that’s the beauty of the community,” she insists, urging buyers to tag Pattern Beauty in photos and videos of them using the products.
Pattern Beauty is now available on patternbeauty.com and will be available in all Ulta stores 9/22.