On Hair Necessities for Curly Hair: Mélissa Peng of Camellias and Curls

this spring, our theme is: synergy.

It’s time to invest in relationships, projects and people that will help us grow. It’s time to create a little synergy.

synergy (n.): the benefit that results when two or more agents work together to achieve something either one couldn't have achieved on its own.

It's the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. In life, at work and in our communities, synergy is that space where the magic happens—where things fall into place, values align and our ideas find a home.

So, what does professional and personal synergy look like? How do we reject cultures of comparison and approach collaboration? How do we protect our own energy as we navigate opportunities, success and failures? This Spring, our programs will serve as a moment to hear from and amplify women and nonbinary leaders in our community who create synergy through their work.

As we prepare for craftHER Market Spring ‘19, we’re interviewing some of this market’s featured makers to learn more about their businesses and the ways in which they create synergy through their work. Read on for a peek into their process.

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about today’s featured maker:

When I started silk flower making, it was to fill a void I saw within the marketplace. Simply put, it was difficult to find hair accessories displayed on women who looked like me. Unfortunately, when I did find something, it was more often than not for brides or infants. I needed something to wear to work and it was virtually impossible to shop for something online that would fit with my type of hair.

I started with the simple plan of making silk flowers that would work on the job and flowers that would stay put in my kinky, curly hair. I ended up falling in love with flower-making, so much so that I've dedicated years to learning this ancient craft!

I eventually created Camellias and Curls, an accessories line designed and marketed with all hair textures in mind.  Four years later, I quit my corporate job and launched expanded collections in various materials. I now cater to anyone seeking a flower accessory.

I feel truly honored each and every time someone chooses one of my creations for their special day or occasion. I hope to continue to expand my offering with the goal of helping you find your perfect accessory, something that not only fits the occasion but makes you feel uniquely YOU! Click here to learn more.

Tell us the background of your business: How did you get started? How big is your business (employees, storefront, etc)? And where do you sell your work? In-person, online, only at markets?

My business started out of necessity. I was a corporate executive at the time and was looking for ways to express myself in a way that was still appropriate for my environment. I loved flowers and wanted to wear them to work, but the flowers I found were rarely shown on women with curly hair, were not available in colors that accentuated my skin tone, and were often not in high quality material appropriate for my role at the time. I decided I would make my own. Little did I know flower making is a very detailed and time consuming process it took years to learn and eventually after investing so much time and effort I decided it made sense to share my creations with the other curly girls and all women who might be searching for a similar product. My business is small -- it's just me and an assistant. Over time I hope to train up an apprentice or two who is as dedicated to the art form as I am!  We sell online and at markets. 

How do you balance the creative side and the business side of your work?

At first when I started my business, I wanted to grow into wholesale and train a large staff to make the flowers, I found that I was getting further and further away from the flower making so I scaled back and focus more on custom orders and creating what I want vs. trying to build a big business.

What resources have helped you grow your business? What resources do you need more of? As a WOB what would you like to see more of?

Marketing has definitely helped me grow my business. Now that I live in Round Rock, I have no access to my materials which definitely makes it harder to produce the flowers-- I wish we had more readily available access to silk, crepe paper, and materials here in Texas.


How do you handle perceived failures within your work?

Flowers are all unique and some of the most beautiful ones have little crinkles and tears and petals that are not "perfect," I like to think that failures in my work are the same -- failures are not what you planned for but if you don't look at them as failures they can yield your greatest innovations at times and at the minimum they can help you avoid pitfalls down the line.


Who is your target audience for your product and how do you connect with them?

My target markets are varied: 1. Curly Women who struggle to find quality accessories that work for their hair 2. Pin Up, Vintage, & Rockabilly fans that wear flowers regularly 3. Brides looking for their perfect hair accessories 4. Crafters that appreciate the art behind flower making 5. Flower lovers looking to rep their love :)

I connect with them on social media and via speciality events.

Tell us about the production process required to make a single product.

Each flower has a different process-- most of my flowers are silk. For silk, first, I stiffen the material so it takes on more of a paper like form, then I cut each petal, dye or color it, and then mold each individual petal before I attach the hair accessories.

What is a good leader to you?

Someone who listens as they lead.

What do you wish you knew before starting your own business?

I didn't start this business as a business first but rather as a hobby. I think if I knew it were going to become a business, I might have made more strategic choices upfront (focusing online a little earlier for example) which would have been helpful.

Would you like to meet Melissa in-person? Come out to craftHER Market on April 14, 2019 at Fair Market and stop by her booth. Click here to learn more.