During her time as a student athlete at the University of Central Florida Dr. Camille Verovic had no idea that her experiences juggling basketball and studying marketing would be preparing her to be a physician and beauty entrepreneur. The Girl+Hair founder has applied her medical expertise and branding knowledge to creating “performance based products” that are dedicated to hair actually being as healthy as it looks. The first line dedicated solely to caring for hair beneath protective styles, also known as “undercare”, Girl+Hair’s products have been celebrated by Sheen, Hype Hair, Essence and other publications. It's not only a favorite among beauty influencers, but is now our customers favorite go-to product to pick up in our online store when purchasing hair products for their next hair style.
We spoke with Dr. Camille about shrinkage, changing trends in the natural hair industry, and how a family member’s illness was the catalyst that got the former marketing professional to commit to studying medicine.
You were inspired to start Girl+Hair after your big chop. What prompted you to take the plunge?
I was praying on it. I had significant breakage and it was at a time where a lot of the people who are now famous on Youtube were doing the big chop so I was inspired to do that. I didn’t want to deal with it anymore so I think all of those things just prompted me to walk up the block to a hair stylist and just say cut it all off.
What led to the breakage?
Relaxers and neglect. It was not understanding that my hair is fine. Now that I have natural hair, I totally understand that I didn’t have to go as frequently to get relaxers. I was going like every six weeks.
Because that’s what they tell you to do...
Yes! And I was letting the relaxers stay in for too long. It wasn’t until I had my own natural hair and could see the true texture that I realized a lot of the problems I was experiencing while I had a relaxer was because my hair is so fine. That’s just my texture.
There are misconceptions that protective styles are inherently "dirty". Everyday in the news there are people talking about girls being suspended from school for wearing protective styles. What is your take on that as a physician?
Many people depend on braids or weave as styling options but in some instances people tend to neglect their own hair. If they're wearing braids they just kind of get up and go. If they're wearing a weave that’s not their own true texture they don’t tend to manipulate it as much. That neglect is how your hair can become matted and your scalp can become dirty. But there weren’t any [cleansing] options for those of us who wore protective styles ten years ago. I think companies are paying attention to that now. They weren’t paying attention to cleansing, they weren’t paying attention to delivery of the product to the scalp, they weren't paying attention to how consumers use products. Now it’s different.
You say “wash day” shouldn’t take all day. How long should the ideal routine take?
I think two to three hours and that’s it. We’re all so busy, why should it take six or seven hours to wash, dry, and style our hair? It should be three hours at the most.
Can you walk us through your hair routine?
Sure. I go to my stylist; part of protective styling is not only wearing a weave or wearing a braid it’s making sure that you know when you might not be able to be active in taking care of your own hair. So, I still go to a hair stylist to make sure that she’s touching my hair and that she’s evaluating my hair health. I wash it while I’m in the shower, I condition it. I don’t condition it all the time. I tend to do deep conditioning treatments. I’ll use some sort of foam to twist it and sit under the dryer. When it’s dry I’ll take those twists out and if it’s at night I’ll go to bed with the twists in take them out in the morning. My hair doesn’t take me more than 3 hours.
The hair care industry is seeing an increase in lightweight products. How do these benefit textured hair as opposed to heavy creams and gels?
I feel like as a community we’re really dependent on creams for moisture. There’s so many oils that we can use to moisturize the hair instead of creams. The reason I say that is while creams are good, sometimes they have a lot of water in them and it leads to shrinkage. A lot of people may not have an issue with that, if your hair is a good size you don't care about shrinkage, but some people do care about shrinkage. I’m from the school of thought that you can use oils to avoid that. There are lighter oils that tend to penetrate the hair follicle or the shaft better and there's heavy oils that coat and protect the hair. So when we were developing the product we wanted to do a botanical oil blend that kind of gave the best of both worlds, something that would penetrate the hair shaft and coat and protect the hair shaft all while not contributing to shrinkage.
Because when you finish the hair with a product like your hair balm it stays bigger...
Yes! That’s a top selling product. That's the one everybody raves about wherever we sell our products.
How is the packaging of Girl + Hair unique from other products on the market?
The applicator tip is unique. When I think about the products out you don’t see the applicator tip quite often. Our branding is a little bit different than others in a sense that it’s very bold but clean branding. My husband and I are always struggling with how to keep it young and fresh. Our customer is young, she’s a fresh girl. She’s informed. That’s the essence of our brand.
Medical school is a long way from a career in marketing. What prompted the switch?
My mom was diagnosed with cancer many, many, years ago. The backstory is that I wanted to be a doctor even before studying marketing but I played college basketball so I couldn’t commit to the chemistry labs, the organic and the biochemistry and all that, because we were always traveling. So I switched my field of study to marketing. When my mom became sick it was almost like I was re-inspired. So I decided to go back [to school] and completed my post-bac studies and commit to my MCATS and all that good stuff. While I was doing that I was still working in marketing. You have to understand some component of marketing and branding even as a physician. Look at where medicine is today. There are so many opportunities for doctors. Some are on TV and others have product lines out. It's important to be well-rounded.
Do you think that more physicians understanding marketing and branding can help communities of color become more invested in their health?
To be honest I think doctors are so invested in doing “the right thing” and in educating themselves, that I don’t think they understand the importance of marketing. I think it’s a great communication tool that could be used with patients especially in communities of color. Especially when it comes to, and I call it an epidemic, diabetes and hypertension which so many patients have. If you’re able to communicate to communities you’re able to help them make better decisions about what they eat so their conditions don’t progress to horrible things like heart attacks and amputations. I wish more physicians would apply marketing tools to communicate with patients so eventually they would be healthier.
We’ve all seen the memes about minding your business and drinking water. Are there dietary choices that affect the hair?
Oh yes absolutely! You need water. If you’re not hydrated how do you expect your hair and skin to be happy and thriving? And not necessarily vitamins through supplements--supplements do not always absorb. You need supplements through your food, supplements through what you eat. I see a lot of biotin supplements and things like that, but biotin is in food. Iron supplements, vitamin A, all of these are in the food we eat every single day. If you’re eating fruits and vegetables, all of the things that we know we have to eat, you’ll see the difference in your hair. If you limit your fine sugars and increase your water intake you’ll see the difference in your hair and skin.
Sometimes Instagram has good advice. You drink your water you mind your business and your hair gets long.
Exactly! And exercise is something that people don’t realize helps with hair growth because when you exercise your blood vessels dilate. Your muscles want to bring blood to your organs. When you open up your vessels and you get blood you get nutrients as well.
So hot yoga can make my hair grow?
Um hot yoga? Maybe. But we’re talking about that pumping exercise, running, getting your blood going--your heart moving.
Yea, I think my hair’s long enough.
What are your next plans for the brand?
We definitely want to bring the brand to a broader audience. There’s so many people that don’t know about the brand so we definitely want to get it onto the shelf of bigger retailers so people can see the products in their area. We want to create more products. I’m always trying to solve problems so for me the whole product development aspect is something that we’re working on to bring fresh ideas to the market that are actually useful for the customer. We want to bring good ingredients that are very beneficial for promoting hair health. We are a very small team, we’re a husband and wife team. We’re business partners of course, but when we see a sales number that’s not what gets us excited. What gets us excited is when other people talk about the brand, and meeting people who go “oh my God. It’s amazing!” That is the most fulfilling part of the Girl+Hair experience, the support. I really love and appreciate the natural hair community. You feel like you have a bunch of sisters who are not blood sisters but they get it. It makes me want to do more.
* This interview has been edited for content and clarity.