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Haitian Haitian American

Fayola Nicaisse: The Revolutionary Who Launched An Organic Plant-Based Line Of Beauty Products Before The Trend

Photo Cred: Carl-Philippe Juste

By Chancy Victorin

Just to give you an idea of how much she preceded the trend, Facebook and Instagram were not yet created when she launched her line of organic beauty products, Ebène which has been making a difference for about 24 years now.

As for many revolutionaries, it is since childhood that she found the cause and source of her passion, wondering why her hair often felt dry after the application of a pomade for example and learning how to extract oils from seeds from her garden in her homeland of Haiti at the tender age of 8 by watching her caretaker. However, It was not until she was 18 and working as a fashion model that she understood what the problem really was, “Beauty products at the time were not created taking into account the particularity of the needs of the skin and the hair of black women”, she deduced. “When you read the ingredients for products for us back then, the list consisted of petroleum, fragrance, and color. That to me is shoe polish, not hairdressing. I decided that I deserved better and just started making my own”.

Like Naomi Campbell, she was a supermodel, traveling the world, and often sleeping in between planes. She walked on the catwalk in Miami, Milan, and Los Angeles, had editorial shoots for Seventeen, YM, and Italian Vogue, and worked with renowned photographers like Bruce Webber and Ellen Von Unwerth. And, even though she resided in Miami, Fayola had the whole secret of recipes from her homeland of Haiti which were concocted by women in her family in her suitcase with her all over the world. “M mache ak ti lwil maskreti’m, ti lwil kokoye’m, ak lwil doliv mwen. Mwen melanje yo ak lot engredyan ke mwen jwenn pandan vwayaj mwen epi mwen fè pwòp pomad ak tretman mwen” she confides. “Modeling does take a toll on your hair,” she says. “Some of the other models and friends noticed that my hair had stopped breaking and was looking stronger and longer. They started to ask what I was using, so I made batches for them as well.” These models told their friends, then the hairstylists on shoots, and that is how what is now Ebène started. Vegetarian in her state of mind and vegan in her choices for her hair and skin, this Haitian avoids profiting from the mistreatment of animals in each of her products.

In 1999, when Ebène first launched and opened the shelf space for black products at Whole Foods Market, that bold move landed Fayola Nicaisse on the Cover of the Dallas Morning News, The cover of Haitians Aujourd’hui, Le Nouvelliste, and spreads in Heart and Soul and Essence magazines. Her list of customers quickly included A-list clients like Jada Pinket, Snoop Dog, and Erika Badu just to name a few. Ebène also became a long-time favorite to Hollywood Celebrity Hairstylist Araxi Lindsey who referred to Ebène as “one of the OGs in the natural beauty game” in an Instagram post. Celebrities love the brand for its purity and authenticity and often request it on sets of TV shows and movies. With 24 years of experience in the rearview mirror, Fayola Nicaisse can boast of so many achievements. She has customers all over the United States and the world, and a brick-and-mortar store in Miami, in the historic business district of Overtown worth visiting. Customers fly in from Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Barbados, and even Turks and Caicos Islands to visit her store and fill their suitcases with Ebène holistic plant-based products. Talking to Fayola, you discover so many layers to this revolutionary Potomitan of a woman. “I can honestly write a novel” she laughs, and it would be a good one.

Photo Cred: Carl-Philippe Juste

From her divorce in 2004, shortly after the start of this beautiful adventure now as a single mother and a business woman with two young children under her arms; to refusing to raise her prices by 40 percent on Whole Foods shelves in 2016 causing their 17-year relationship to come to a halt; to moving the brand to Amazon also in 2016 after being personally invited by an Amazon executive to sell on their platform; to her social media being hacked in 2021 causing her to lose her personal and business pages including all followers and content. When asked what it was like to disappear from social media overnight and lose all content and followers, she replied “It was frustrating and depressing at first. Social media is very important nowadays, but Thank God, and lucky for me, I launched Ebène before social media existed, therefore, I kind of know how to navigate without it”.

She continued with a smile “As we rebuild on social media, we continue doing what we have always done.” Fayola admits that one of her greatest satisfaction is to hear clients express their satisfaction with Ebène’s products, but above all, that they decide to educate themselves about ingredients and their influences on their bodies. “I’m not looking to just sell, that is not my primary objective. But rather to have through each product this dialogue between two black women about our specific needs which are now being met, and with holistic plant-based formulas” she specifies. Hers is a work of love and passion and you see it and feel it in every product.

Ebène’s soaps make your mouth water. The intense natural aroma of the cinnamon, oats, and coffee makes you want to go home and fix that very Haitian breakfast. Her candles make you want to meditate and contemplate infinity. Let’s not talk about the body cream, it is another inevitable element of this brand. As she celebrates 24 years of business, she has thoughts of light for her father whom she lost for almost the same number of years as her product line is old. “He was one of the reasons why I educated myself on plants and herbs as a teenager” she shares. She thanks God for the gift and the talent he has given her and is thankful for every woman who discovers Ebène and adopts its flower power revolution of self-knowledge and discovery.

Ebène products can be obtained at their Miami brick-and-mortar store located at 1036 NW 3rd Avenue, Miami, FL 33136, on their website at ebenenaturals.com, and on Amazon Prime . Instagram @Ebenenaturals, Facebook: EbeneNaturals, Twitter: @Ebene_Naturals

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