When you meet LaWanda Brooks, the love she emanates from within can be felt in every product, business she touches. Brooks, the founder and owner of SweetHead Naturals Salon, Little SweetHead Naturals Salon, PrettiKat Boutique and the SweetHead Naturals organic hair, skin and body product line – is a force of nature.
“I have a passion for creating and running business, and I love helping people create businesses, especially black business,” she said.
This beauty-industry veteran with more than 32 years in the industry, which includes working for premier beauty lines and being a stylist, puts her passion for health and wellness and self-care into every bottle of product she makes. And making product is exactly what Brooks does in one room of her University City-based SweetHead Naturals Salon. Brooks and her team measure, mix and blend organic beauty products out of ingredients like shea butter, sunflower, coconut and avocado oil.
She prides herself on creating products that are free of the harmful, toxic chemicals often hidden in standard over-the-counter beauty products. Brooks has two hair salons – one for adults and a cute mini-me salon in Florissant dedicated solely to children.
Brooks said the natural care movement has motivated many women to move away from relaxing their hair, but a lot of people fail to realize the harmful chemicals that are often present in lotions, soaps, deodorants and other personal care items.
“In a matter of seconds, products rubbed onto your skin can be absorbed into your bloodstream. I began to research the ingredients of all of the products I was using, and many of the ingredients were linked to cancer, reproductive issues, neurological problems and many more health issues,” Brooks said.
“I took a huge leap of faith and stopped performing relaxers, perms and harmful color services in my salon. Chemical straightener and hair-color services are a large part of the revenue for a salon business; however, for me these harmful processes were not worth the health and wellness of myself or my clients.”
With a problem and niche identified, Brooks began working on a solution.
“My clients would ask me what I used for my personal care, and I would respond, ‘I make my own,’ and they started requesting products from me to use in their daily care regimen,” Brooks said.
To name her new product line, Brooks looked within for something that represented her, her journey and her path. Eventually, “Sweethead,” a name she was lovingly called by her grandfather – a well-known furniture upholsterer named Alfred Turner – came to mind. Due to its personal meaning and its relevance to pure ingredients and appeal to clients, “Sweethead” became the perfect name to represent her new product line.
Brooks said when she was presented with the opportunity for her products to be featured in Target and other large retailers, she opted to stay small and homemade – because she is committed to product integrity and wants to ensure her product is created according to the standards she originally created.
Brooks currently operates three businesses that carry the SweetHead’s line. Her SweetHead Naturals’ flagship salon is located at 8133 Delmar Blvd. in University City. It has shelves lined with shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, perfume and even a men’s line. Little SweetHead Naturals, located at 1783 N. New Florissant in Florissant, is the cute, pink salon for little naturalista princesses in the making. PrettiKat Boutique, located at 3367 N. Lindbergh in Florissant, offers full-body waxing services in a private boutique setting, as well as one-of-a-kind garments and clothing and SweetHead’s signature product line.