The Walker brothers share how AfroPick was founded on advocacy and the importance of self-love, individualism, and the need to amplify, honor, and celebrate Black voices.
BY JOHANNA FERREIRA
When the Walker Boys first came up with the idea of AfroPick, they weren’t just looking to launch vibrant and colorful afro picks. For them the afro pick was beyond just a styling tool for natural hair. It was “also a symbol of the unity and strength in Black culture” that told a much bigger story.
“AfroPick is the result of our experience in the world. Being from a very unorthodox and diverse family that allowed us the freedom to choose our own paths, we each had the opportunity to explore in different ways,” they tell thirteen lune “To explore the vastness of human experience and specifically, how we all fit into that experience while also recognizing and celebrating our differences. We have seen and met so many people across all walks of life, and we realized that what connects us all is stories. Stories about us, our beginnings, our traditions, our part in it all. AfroPick is us exploring our little part in it all by filling a need in the marketplace for more products that encourage self-identity through the illumination of stories of our culture. This is the mission that founded AfroPick and that is driving its success.”
AfroPick’s beauty philosophy is simple: Beauty is love. “Love of one’s self, everything that makes you unique,” the brothers who were born and raised in Southside Chicago, later moved to Georgia, and now reside in different cities throughout the country, tell us. “We follow this closely in our lives and in our defining of “beauty” as well.
These custom designed afro picks come in a variety of different designs that all represent and speak to Black culture, heritage, history, and solidarity. Harlem is designed with vibrant colors that “speak to the lively energy that arrived in the neighborhoods of Harlem — to the passion that lead to one of the greatest revivals in Black culture” while the Fresher Prince is one of the brand’s newest staples designed with abstract shapes and vibrant colors that honor Black culture’s impact on America.
“What connects us all is stories. Stories about us, our beginnings, our traditions, our part in it all. AfroPick is us exploring our little part in it all by filling a need in the marketplace for more products that encourage self-identity through the illumination of stories of our culture.”
Get to Know – The Walker Brothers
What were some of your first memories of beauty or grooming growing up? What are some early beauty influences?
Beauty and self-hygiene have always been an important part of our family. Our earliest memories of this go back to our early mornings before school, sitting in the middle of the kitchen on a cold stool as our father, Gemini, cut our hair. Having been in the military before owning a beauty salon in Chicago, our Dad always valued discipline and self-hygiene. On the other hand, our mother has always been more of a free spirit in terms of her beauty and grooming: unique, colorful, and expressive are words that come to mind. We can think back to the many times our mother, Brenda, some of our cousins, and grandmother would all have haircare days in the living room, braiding each other's hair over fun and laughter. We gained distinct, yet different perspectives on beauty and its cultural aspects from each of our parents, and it is this influence that can be seen in our products.
Arguably, Afro combs are much more than a practical tool, they are a cultural icon. What is your hope with the storytelling and educational aspect of your brand as Afro Pick becomes more ubiquitous?
As AfroPick becomes more ubiquitous, we hope that our advocacy for the importance of self-identity, individualism, and self-love will encourage others to take pride in themselves just as they are while also recognizing the inherent connection their journey holds to the stories of others. This at its base leads to understanding and ultimately, love of the beautiful differences in our community.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
What inspires us most about the current beauty industry is the movement towards self-acceptance. The beauty industry in the past has been known to be exclusive and toxic, but with the current resurgence of self-love and diversity in beauty, we are inspired to be a part of the growth the industry is experiencing.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
So far, the biggest challenge has been just that: starting the business and all that comes with it while also maintaining personal projects, family, and other job commitments. Entrepreneurship is known for being challenging, but we can definitely attest that it has also been very rewarding for a number of reasons. We're doing what we love, so it's hard to find too many more challenges.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Our biggest "win" so far has been successfully getting AfroPick off the ground despite the unexpected effects of the coronavirus. We were nervous that the pandemic would have large negative effects on the forming business, but we are happy to be receiving such great reception to the product. We love the engagement we are receiving and the connection we feel with our community through AfroPick.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry?
We would love to see more diversity of products that encourage self-identity as it comes to race, gender, and body type. We believe that the industry as a whole is moving in the right direction, and we are excited to watch out for other small businesses like ours that are bringing such diversity and inclusivity to the marketplace!