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Thanksgiving 2017 Reflections

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This Thanksgiving there’s a lot to be grateful for. Tops on my list is Nappy Headed Jojoba and her YouTube video that included several of our products. Shout out to Nappy Headed Jojoba – thanks for using your video blogging platform to share the news about my products. Right now in this country there’s a fair amount of political turmoil and conflict so it’s all the more important to appreciate when individuals are gracious, generous and are coming from a place of goodwill.

Something else that I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving is that I had the chance to see the new John Leguizamo play that’s currently on Broadway called Latin History for Morons. Big shout-out to John Leguizamo! John Leguizamo took something painful, frustrating and puzzling and weaved together an educational one-man show from all of it.  It definitely made me rethink Thanksgiving as he raises the awareness of the impact that Thanksgiving had on the millions and millions of Native Americans who lived on this land as long as their people can remember.

That brings me to something else that I’m grateful for – the awareness of my Native America  family background. I am part Cree Indian on my mom’s side and part Black Cree Indian on my dad’s side. And I always grew up having heard the story of my grandmother’s, grandmother Grandma Jemima who was a known herbalist. Grandma Jemima always had herbs in her backyard and herbs in her kitchen and her remedy and solution for respiratory illness, stomach problems, all manner of things were often herbal. Grandma  Jemima left a lasting legacy of the value and benefit of herbs and how we can always avail ourselves of them if only we choose because of her I grew up in the most urban place a kid could grow up – New York City  – in a herbal-centric household  (thank you Mom!)

So on this holiday weekend I wish the very best for all of you folks who frequent and shop our store brand. Hoping that all of the things that you all are grateful for only amplify in the New Year!



The Deep Emotions Around Black/Afro-Textured Hair

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I have a friend who has always championed Lakshmi’s Cupboard and always requests that I bring some of my product line to our personal get together plans (meeting up for lunch, dinner, etc) – and I mean with true consistency.  I always attributed this to her being a supportive sister (which she is). But recently while spending some time with her I learned of a deeper reason: her background is bi-racial and the messages she received around her beautiful, curly, textured hair when she was a young child were not affirming at all. So knowing me on a personal level, she assumed, correctly, that all of my conditioners, hair oils, and shampoos were made with a loving appreciation for Black/Afro-textured hair. And she is so right – when I am making a product run – New Agey as this sounds – I send love and light to the product batch, I envision the people using it feeling a sense of beauty and self-esteem, I see them really loving the way their hair looks.

I am happy whenever my lovingly crafted product line gets to be the bridge that leads an individual towards “hair appreciation and pride”. It’s so much better when we are friends with our hair and our hair feels nurtured and cared for – when we have met the specific needs that Black/Afro-textured hair has. In the US and elsewhere in the world we have had a long tradition of disregarding what was best or optimal for our hair type, using products more suited for non ethnic hair. All the more reason that I take a special satisfaction in playing a small part in the “self affirming” textured hair movement that is currently underway. And in the experience with my friend….. how nice it is to move from the universal to the deeply personal.


Some of my friend T’s faves

Styling Human Hair Wigs

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I had the opportunity recently to style a human hair Afro Textured wig for a friend recently with some great results. She had purchased this wig online – made of Brazilian hair and needed it styled for an upcoming event.


$_57 (1)


First I did a simple water wash of the wig under the faucet, next I applied our Amla and Honey Detangling Conditioner all over, then I separated the wig hair in sections with duckbills clips – creating about 20 2 strand twists.



I let the wig dry over night using the wide end of a gallon bottle as it’s resting place. In the morning I released the twists and – voila – soft, shiny, smoothed curls were poppin all over the place.

The Return Visit

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Date: 10-19-10
The Return Visit

So today I had my second haircut with Tameeka of Christo’s Hair Salon. Now to let you know a little about me, I am famous for one night stands with hair stylists – there was the guy at Saks Fifth Avenue senior of High School, then that woman I had appointment with freshman year in college – the list goes on and on. I think I have commitment phobia with hair stylists. Why take the chance on someone when it’s just as easy to care for my hair myself? Me and my hair usually get along just fine – why add a third person to the mix?

So here I am reporting that I returned to a stylist – have I matured….grown-up? Can’t say for sure but I can report that I’m glad I went for my 5 month follow up trim. I was super grateful that Tameeka was able to squeeze me in this evening (I had scheduled way in advance since she is going on maternity leave soon but had to reschedule as I realized friends were visiting from out of town). Initially we had thought I could go 5 months between shaping cuts but now I see that my cut starts to lose its shape after about 4 months. She had my hair shampooed with the new “Natural Coils” line cleanser developed my Christo. This was a nice change in that it is sulphate free unlike the Curlisto shampoo. Interestingly enough, my hair must be stronger since my initial visit because this time as she and her assistant combed the conditioner and leave ins through my hair there was very little shedding (Yeah!).

Basically she trimmed very little – just maintaining the overall style/ cut, raked down my curls to lengthen them a bit and let them dry under a hood dryer. I could see my hair had grown as she measured out my curls on each side – making sure they hung evenly. So it seems like I have found the stylist I can trust my hair and its healthy maintenance to….sweet.

– Ayana
Lakshmi’s Cupboard

Unintended Cliffhanger – The Session With The Stylist

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Date: July 2010

Unintended Cliffhanger: The Session with the Stylist 

My last posting left off with me getting a shaping haircut at Christo’s Salon in Manhattan, NY by stylist Tameeka McNeil-Johnson. The results….I am super happy with my haircut. She was totally faithful to the treatment plan we agreed upon at the time of the consultation: minimal trimming, gradual removal of existing layers; retention of my existing bangs. She was not overly chatty but instead went studiously about the business of detangling and evaluating my hair – which was fine with me (I personally prefer conversation that arises naturally to customer service forced chatter). I was particularly glad that I weekly treat my hair with Aphogee’s keratin 2 minute treatment because my hair was strong enough to sustain thecomb detangling (a little rigorous compared to my finger detangling that I’ll admit would take too long in a salon setting).

After shampooing and conditioning my hair, Tameeka (with the help of an assistant) applied Curlisto’s Deep Therapy Masque – my new favorite product! This masque is combed through the hair and left on for about 5-7 minutes. I was amazed at the reconditioning effects it had on myhair. My hair was left sleeker, stronger and softer with just that short application. Once the masque was rinsed out Tameeka applied Curlisto’s repairing styling crème and a blend of their Structura gel and Control II gel. She then raked them through my hair and elongated my curls a little. The end result was very workable. My tight curls had some definition and bounce. (I did take pictures but they didn’t come out particularly well). Best of all in the 2 months since the haircut my hair has been much easier to manage.

Because the cut is so well shaped I don’t have to have perfect curls every day. They more or less fall into place and are far less maintenance (no more errant curls springing rudely from my head). So my report is that I am very happy with my haircut. The mutually agreed upon plan is for me to return for another shaping cut in November/December – before Tameeka (who is pregnant) gives birth. I highly recommend both Tameeka as a stylist with curl expertise and Curlisto’s Deep Therapy Masque as a protein treatment.

 – Ayana Phillips

Surrendering Control of My Hair To A Stylist

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Date: June 2010

The Overdue Haircut….aka Surrendering Control of My Hair to a Stylist 

Several summers ago I was at a retreat where we played a game of musical chairs for adults with a twist – the person without a chair was not eliminated but instead had to say 1 thing about themselves that was embarrassing and then everyone who had the same issue had to get up from their seats and race to find a new chair. One woman’s embarrassing detail was that she hated to give up control of her hair to a hair stylist. I totally got up for that one.

I had long dreadlocks for many years and so it was never really necessary to see a stylist – I cut and cared for my own hair without needing any specialty services (color, etc…) – with great results. No one was ever as intimate with my hair care needs as I was. So now fast forward 4 years – I’ve only braved getting a haircut twice since the Big Chop. The first stylist was someone local – not recommended through anyone and she needed to blow my hair straight before cutting (burning many strands of hair as she straight combed!). The second stylist was well reviewed/ recommended at a Brooklyn salon. He gave me a cut that was perfectly fine but I paid all this extra money ($80-100 over the cut and conditioning) for “special Curly styling” only to have my hair look like a regular curly afro w/ no curl definition.

     So today I am stepping up to the roulette table of hair services once again – badly needing a shaping cut (it’s been 16 months since the last cut, wayward curls stick out everywhere – see below).
My appointment is with Tameeka of Christo’s Salon in Manhattan, NY. She was well recommended (even back when I went to the Brooklyn guy) and seemed to understand that I wanted to leave with a look similar to a “twist out” (the way I regularly wear my hair). She was very familiar with all of the products I use when I had my consultation last week, so that feels like a good omen. My appt is for later this evening, promise to report back with the results…..Here goes……….

How It All Began

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Date: Feb 9, 2010

How It All Began
Believe it or not the idea for the online store Lakshmi’s Cupboard began on the Staten Island ferry ladies bathroom. In 2008 I had an office job in Manhattan, NY. My commute was bus, ferry, train, walking – a total of 75-80 minutes! To save time and get extra sleep in the mornings I would wrap my twisted hair in a scarf or wear a hat and board the ferry like that. Over that 25 min ride, I would take down my twisted hair, add a little Amla Lavender Chamomile Leave-In Cream as a moisturizer and fluff out my curls. I walked into that bathroom looking ghetto and left that bathroom looking fabulous! What I noticed was that I also was educating many women about caring for African American natural hair (or tightly curled hair of any ethnicity). Women asked me for product recommendations all of the time. One women even took my picture once we got off the ferry!

So in January of 2010 I opened my online store – Lakshmi’s Cupboard – specializing in hair care products for curly/ ethnic hair. I have used all the products I currently sell – and adore them! I have finally figured out my hair and how to make it thrive. These combination of products –  thick hair conditioners, moisturizing hair creams, olive oil and honey – have made my hair shiny, strong and my twist and curl hair sets last a week with no touch up twisting! The Amla Silk Deep Therapy Restorative Hair Masque has done a breathtaking job repairing damage, my hair is growing now and I retain the length. So I welcome you to test these products out for yourself here at Lakshmi’s Cupboard.




Sesame Street Song For Loving Kinky Hair

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Sesame Street Song for Loving Kinky-Curly Hair

It really never hurts to watch a little Sesame Street. I was installing some new blinds in the house this morning and I had Sesame Street  on (Sidebar: Yes, adults can be entertained by Sesame Street even with no kids in the house). They had a little girl muppet singing about how she loves her hair as an afro, in braids, in curls. The song is called “I Love My Hair”. I take the position that you are never too old to affirm love for your hair. That’s right whether you are 5 or whether you are 50 – hair affirmations are never time misspent. Go Sesame Street!

Lakshmi’s Cupboard

Making Shampoo Bars Is Exciting Stuff

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June 25, 2012


I have to say I have begun to make Shampoo and
Conditioner Bars
 to retail in our store and I am really liking it! It is so cool to be able to customize the ingredients with exactly the herbs you want to see in your shampoo bar and exactly the oil base that you prefer and then add the
essential oils that will impact your hair just the way you want – LOVING IT!

My mind is now working overtime on the bars I want to make in the future. These shampoo bars are
sulphate/silicone free of course.

So the batch that I will be retailing first is a combination of Brahmi, Amla, Shea Butter, Castor Oil, Honey and essential oils that are moisturizing for dry hair. Look out for them at our store in the next few weeks.




Making Peace With The Price of Healthy Hair

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Date: May 18, 2013

Making Peace With the Price of Healthy, Great Looking Hair

I just spent $250 on products for my own hair. This may give you sticker shock ( I would fully understand if it did). Did I eagerly spend the money….not exactly. Was I smiling when I clicked “process payment now”….no not really. But I do accept that success begets greater expense.

When my hair was much shorter 1 oz or 2 oz of product went a long way. But my hair goal was for longer hair (Goal 1 was chin level, goal 2 was shoulder level, goal 3 was below shoulder level and my current goal is mid way between my shoulder and elbow). As I have achieved my goals I have had to increase the purchase sizes of my orders (i.e  buying 64 oz of product at a time) because it simply takes more Aubrey Organics GPB Conditioner or Curlisto Deep Therapy Masque to treat my now longer hair. So when you think about it it’s kind of a luxury dilemma to have (welcome to Zoe Saldana’s world). I estimate that I will spend about $1000 on Curlisto Deep Therapy Masque alone this year (okay less if I catch a few sales like I just did today but there won’t be a sale every time I run out of it). And believe it or not I am making peace with that $1000 expense. Why? Because I saw what life (i.e my hair) was like when I went a few months without budgeting that expense in. My hair didn’t do all the things I like for it to do – hold my curl definition as long, resist breakage, have shine etc. There are other products in that category where when I  omit then from my routine – a hair rebellion takes place which is no fun for me and I doubt my hair is having much fun either…..struggle ensues, grooming time increases.

We all have our thresholds as far as what we are willing to pay to maintain healthy, great looking hair – it is different for everyone. But once you know what your hair really requires to do it’s thing healthily – making peace with that dollar amount for those products is really a pretty good idea.

Ayana Phillips
Lakshmi’s Cupboard