he roots of her multi-faceted health and beauty business began with her hair.
Chris-Tia E. Donaldson, 33, a Harvard-trained lawyer and native Detroiter, grew tired of covering her natural hair with wigs and weaves to fit the image of a high-powered attorney.
When she could not find enough information to support her on her natural hair journey, she wrote “Thank God I’m Natural: The Ultimate Guide to Caring for and Maintaining Natural Hair.” Essence magazine calls it the Bible on natural hair.
The book, first published in 2009, is now in its fourth printing. As Donaldson traveled the country and talked, especially to women, she realized she needed to go beyond hair. She aims to cultivate and encourage women’s inner and outer beauty and wellness.
She created a line of natural hair and body products called tgin, which stands for “Thank God, It’s Natural,” for its emphasis on natural and organic ingredients. The handmade tgin shea butter products, launched last year, are made by her sister, Piper Singleton, and Piper’s daughter, Aris Singleton, in Detroit.
A line of tgin hair products will be on the market this summer. In Metro Detroit, tgin products are sold at Hiller’s Markets, the Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore and Cultural Center and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Your mission is to help people live healthier natural lives. What exactly does that mean?
We launched tgin as a natural hair care business. But our ultimate goal is to get into wellness in general, including supplements, perhaps healthy snacks, fitness apparel, and meal planning, mobile and web-based applications that encourage people to eat better and exercise. Our ultimate goal is to inspire people, and in particular Black women to see that what you put into your body is a major contributor to the health and the beauty of your hair and skin.
Where does this passion for healthy and natural living come from?
I’m not sure, but my mom died from cancer when I was 17, a rare form of cancer. This question has always been on my mind-if my mom had the information we have today would she be alive today? In the Black community, we have such high rates of preventable diseases-diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. I feel like we’re killing ourselves and a lot of it has to do with lack of information. I want to help fill that information gap.
You have soaps, shea butter products, body salts, candles and more. What’s your favorite product in your line?
It really is a toss-up between our soaps and our shea butter. Our soaps are handmade in small batches from olive oil and shea butter. You can really feel the butters and oils. The soaps are super moisturizing, contain their natural glycerine, give a good lather and they smell really, really good.
You’re working on two more books?
Yes, the first is called, “Green Smoothies: The Natural Secret to Gorgeous Hair, Glowing Skin and Weight Loss.” Green foods are so important to our diet, and we don’t get nearly enough of them. We want to encourage people to try to incorporate green smoothies into their diets since they are tasty and super easy to prepare. My third book is a healthy eating guide. So many people jump from one diet to the next and never make any progress. In reality, if you make simple and easy lifestyle changes, like cutting out processed food and soda, you’ll see major results.
Do you still practice law?
Yes, I work for a software company, Oracle, in Chicago.
What do you do for fun?
The work I do for tgin is fun. Really. I enjoy sharing information with people that can change their lives and helping to create jobs for the young women who work for us. And I enjoy activities like running, yoga and playing tennis.
Who most inspired you?
I know it sounds cliché, but my parents. My mom, (former City of Detroit Ombudsman Marie Farrell Donaldson), was a really ambitious professional woman committed to helping people and the city of Detroit. And at 33, I still turn to my dad (Clinton Donaldson of Detroit) for advice on business and personal matters. He’s super savvy.
When are you coming home again?
I’ll be home this summer. We’ll have a booth set up at the African World Festival.
How can people reach you?
You can always check our website at thankgodimnatural.com or find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thankgodimnatural) or Twitter (twitter.com/tginatural).
OMOWALE FAYE BROWN IS A DETROIT-BASED FREELANCE WRITER.