Hype Chat: Urban Hydration Founder Psyche Terry Talks Turning Natural Hair Into Big Business

Psyche Terry X Urban Hydration

Anyone who has ever tried an Urban Hydration product knows that their hair and skin will get an unbeatable dose of moisture that will have you buying the products by the gallon. And for every product you buy, a portion of the proceeds goes toward clean drinking water in Kenya with their Water is Life (WIL) charity.

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The story behind this all-natural brand is well documented and impressive, but the brains behind the cult favorite is nothing short of empowering, as well. Psyche Terry, CEO and founder of the Dallas, TX-based company, is a force to be reckoned within the industry and is proving that as she builds a natural beauty empire with her husband and co-owner, Vontoba Terry.

We caught up with the naturalista and beauty boss to learn more about the growth of her business, the best practices she lives by and what’s next for Urban Hydration.

HYPE HAIR: Urban Hydration can be found in so many major retailers, including Sally, Walmart, Target and others. What was the process like for you to break into retail?
PSYCHE TERRY: It was daunting, being a mom and a wife and still under 40, and being a minority, being a woman. So I had several different things going on, but I used each of those elements and owned them. I determined what’s best about being a woman and being young. I used each of those things to help me pitch the company and pitch our story even better and even more lively to retail buyers. I’m closer to my purchasing community. By being a mom, I have products for me, my kids and my husband. By being a woman, I’m a user of the products.

Those helped me be more relevant. It goes from “Why me” to “Why not me?” It’s just those real-life examples of what pushed me forward, even over our larger majority-owned competitors. I look at those guys like they are usually not using their own products. They’re doing their best to copy and mimic minority-owned brands. The fact that I’m not just a brand producer, but a user of the product, helped me make something much more competitive and compelling to the buyer. And even when I got my products on the shelves, it didn’t work as well as I thought it would. It was really a 10-year process. I’m a person that grinds and hacks. I figure it out and try again if I fall down.

HH: That’s really persistent!
PSYCHE: We created a household brand. The full and only point to our products is that I grew up using Vaseline as hair grease. Once I realized that Vaseline wasn’t the best protectant for my curls or my hair, I knew I had to make a change for myself. And for the love I had for myself, the love I had for my family—my family had to make a change. That’s what I’ve been pushing for, and that’s why I have longevity in the brand. We’re not just creating a good-smelling product. We’re creating a legacy product that our grandkids will know of. And they will have long, strong, healthy hair. And we’ll change the game. It’s up to me to make a difference.

HH: Speaking of creating a legacy, a portion of your sales goes to the WIL initiative. What sparked that interest to give back to this specific need?
PSYCHE: You will not see me or anyone on our team be flashy. We’re not flashy, because we’re raised by the community. It’s important that we give back to the community. The community didn’t have to provide me water. But as a community, we can give that one single resource that we all take advantage of every day. And the fact that our product is about hydration and dry skin and dry hair, we thought it made sense to make that the one thing that we focus our efforts on. Kenya, Africa, is just really struggling with water. It was a no-brainer.

HH: What advice would you have for aspiring entrepreneurs? 
PSYCHE: Be nice. I didn’t forget about my fierceness, because that’s who I am as a Black woman, but I can also be kind. That’s one of the first and most awesome things that women need to realize. Kindness follows you. People tend to honor you and favor you when you follow that behavior. Unfortunately, that’s a minority right now. There aren’t a lot of people choosing honor and just being nice, and I think you stand out when you do that.

HH: Urban Hydration was at the forefront of the “clean beauty” movement in the industry. What can we expect to see from your brand in 2020?
PSYCHE: We are not playing about our community. If you can brush our teeth with it, polish your nails with it, anything as a consumer that I have to use that’s not right for me, our company is looking at how to make it cleaner, better and more natural. If your body consumes it, it can be a part of our portfolio. It’s all about bringing natural resources to our community.

HH: There are many female entrepreneurs who are trying to juggle spouses, kids, and demanding hustles while working towards their dreams. You make it seem easy. How do you do it?
PSYCHE: I worked backward and determined what type of person I wanted to be when all of this is done. When I leave this earth, what kind of legacy do I want to leave for people to remember? But by thinking in the end, first, it allowed me to start choosing my behaviors now differently. Making sure I’m working out every day, making sure I’m treating people well every day, and when I’m here, I’m present. I’m not partially in and out of conversations.

With my kids, we’re eating breakfast and dinner together as many days of the week as we can. When the ball is in my hand, that ball is in my hand. I try my best not to have so many balls, but every ball gets as much of me as it possibly can. It gives me peace, knowing that I’m doing my best. I can say I’m too busy for any of the things I’m doing, but because they are important to me and pouring back into me, that’s what’s giving me balance and solitude.