We had the good fortune of connecting with AJ Watkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi AJ, what role has risk played in your life or career?
“The comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” This quote always comes to mind when I think of risk taking, because without risk, growth cannot occur. I took a huge risk when deciding to be a full time entrepreneur. At the time I started my All Natural Kinks haircare line, I was working a full-time corporate job at an IT Consulting firm in Washington, DC. Because this job was taking up most of my time, I could only work on growing my business on nights and weekends. I knew the corporate job was not my passion but was terrified to leave it and commit to All Natural Kinks full time. I feared if I left my cozy corporate job, I would not have the means to support myself financially. Despite my fear, I still felt in my gut that this was the best time in my life to take a chance on myself because I had not yet started a family and I knew where I wanted to take my business. In September of 2017, I decided to take the leap of faith and go for it. Seventeen days after my boyfriend proposed, we drove 40 hours nonstop to California and I started making things happen with my business. It has been four years since All Natural Kinks has launched and risk taking has played a huge role in the growth and expansion of our business and will continue to be the driving force to propel us forward.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
This is the fourth year All Natural Kinks has been in business and everyday we continue to grow and expand. With this company, I have been able to turn my insecurities into the driving force for my business. At one point, these insecurities had a hold on my self-esteem. Growing up, I struggled tremendously with growing my coarse, kinky textured hair which ultimately affected my self-confidence. I often felt ugly because my hair was not as long or as ‘pretty’ as the white, Asian and Hispanic girls I grew up with. It wasn’t until college that I began loving and accepting my kinky textured hair once I learned how to properly care for it. Now my hair is past my waist and, through All Natural Kinks, I am able to provide the blueprint for other men and women to reach their hair goal lengths as well. We have had a variety of different customers all over the world benefiting from our products. These customers include those having trouble with breakage due to dry and brittle hair and those suffering from alopecia and thinning spots. We also provide platforms for our customers to educate them on how to keep their hair, scalp and beard healthy and moisturized. My company stands out from others because people can relate to my past hair insecurities and I am dedicated to helping them on their journey to long healthy hair. Also, All Natural Kinks is one of the few companies to hand make each product that goes out to customers. So far, I am most proud of our products being featured in ESSENCE twice.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1 Highlights – Comic Cellar: Alhambra – This place is great. They have a vast collection of comics and Funko Pops from tv shows, movies and video games Day 2 Highlight – Citadel Outlets: Commerce – Here you can find top brand stores with merchandise at a discounted price. Day 3 Highlight Turnbull Canyon: Whittier – This is a amazing trail to hike with some incredible views. You can both run and bike and this trail. Day 4 Highlight – Ramen Ichiraku: El Monte -This is the perfect restaurant for anime fans. They have a ramen dish that mimics the exact meal from Naruto. Day 5 Highlight – Montebello Town Center: Montebello – This mall has a huge variety of stores and has some amazing restaurants. I always love going to their BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. Day 6 Highlight – Popping Yolk Cafe: Alhambra – They have the best variety of Eggs Benedict here and all of them taste delicious. Day 7 Highlight – Cooks Tortas: Monterey Park – This place has the best gourmet Mexican sandwiches. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Back in September of 2020 my company, All Natural Kinks, launched our Complete Wash Day Collection adding 7 brand new products to our haircare line. The launch itself was extremely successful but the planning process was rigorous and time consuming. There was one person that was by my side through it all. I would call her everyday when I had a new idea and needed a second opinion or when I was frustrated with a task and needed to vent. With every call she remained positive and always helped me brainstorm strategies. She has and always will be my biggest supporter, my sister Allita Watkins.