As a little girl, Yve-Car Momperousse, CEO/Founder of Kreyòl Essence, struggled to embrace her natural hair — but years of chemical straightening, weaving, and braids caused a lot of damage. She always reached for Haitian Black Castor Oil to help regrow and repair her mane, which is why she ultimately teamed up with COO/Co-Founder Stéphane Jean-Baptiste to create her own version of it.
“I have always loved beauty products and consider myself to be an avid product tester of all brands, and a sucker for great marketing and messaging,” Momperousse says. “The ability to combine my love for Haiti with my love for the beauty space has been a dream come true.”
In celebration of CROWN Day (also known as Black Hair Independence Day), we sat down with Momperousse to talk about Kreyòl Essence’s collection of natural hair and skin products — available to shop at Ulta Beauty — and the brand’s commitment to making a positive social impact. Keep reading to learn all about her journey to becoming a beauty boss.
What was the impetus for creating Kreyòl Essence?
Over the years, I did lots of damage to my hair for the purposes of style and vanity. Each time I damaged my hair, I knew exactly what to do: call mom and ask for a bottle of Haitian Black Castor Oil.
After growing out my natural hair, I went to a hairdresser and asked to have my hair pressed. The hairdresser took one look at my enormous afro and said, “I’m going to need significant heat to straighten that hair.” It turns out that the beautician burned my hair by using an iron that was too hot. Once again, I needed Haitian Black Castor Oil, so I went to natural and West Indian stores in Philadelphia in search of the product.
To my dismay, no one had the organic oil available. That’s when I decided to make sure that I, and anyone else who needed the oil, could always have access to it by creating Kreyòl Essence.
What kind of products does Kreyòl Essence offer and what makes them different from other options on the market?
Kreyòl Essence is the first Haitian company to bring natural and ethical hair, skin, and body products from Haiti to the world. Our earth-conscious formulations are made from the purest ingredients with a special focus on dry hair and skin.
For scalp and hair health, we offer original Haitian Black Castor Oil, which is commonly known as lwil maskriti. It’s also available in organic essential oil blends of Lavender Hibiscus (our most popular), Rosemary Mint, and Mango, Papaya & Coconut.
We also have products for hair repair, hair styling, dry and aging skin as well as hair vitamin needs and body and skin condition treatments.
Which Kreyòl Essence products are staples in your own hair routine?
My favorite Kreyòl Essence products are the Deep Conditioning Hair Mask, Leave-In Detangler, So Smooth Hair Mousse, and OMG Curl Crème. As a 4C girl with tight curls that are fragile, and as someone with a very sensitive scalp, these are must-haves.
How did you feel when you found out your products were going to be sold at Ulta Beauty?
I felt really proud that Kreyòl Essence became the first Haitian-owned, operated, and sourced brand at Ulta Beauty. I’m forever grateful for a partnership that allows us to scale our social impact, product innovation, and serve an unmet need for our customers.
As a social business, how is Kreyòl Essence giving back to the Haitian community?
Kreyòl Essence is “Natural with a Purpose.” As a social business, we are obsessed with economic development, empowering women, and taking care of our environment. Sassy, funny, and exuding with confidence, our hardworking and uncompromising Haitian employees and team do not request charity, but rather jobs. Every purchase helps us change their lives.
Women were the backbone of the country before and after the earthquake, however they’re also victims of gender-based violence and extreme poverty due to high unemployment. We want to bring more than hope to women. Through slow yet consistent growth, our business will create economic opportunities for women.
The revival of Haiti’s economy will come from job creation — not donations. Education, health, and poverty alleviation can all be improved when people have income and unemployment is reduced.
Do you have any advice for fellow beauty bosses and/or aspiring founders?
For young entrepreneurs, my biggest piece of advice is not to overthink it, just start! The earlier you fail and make mistakes, the better you’ll be by the time you’re in your 20s, 30s, and 40s. No matter how educated you are, I truly believe the most important thing you can have in life is experience. It teaches you so much.