October 3, 2022

maya smith the doux founer

It’s one thing to create a good hair productand it’s another to create one that tells a story, one that draws you in and holds a special place in your routine. The Doux is one of those brands. Founded by Maya Smith, The Doux is a buzzy natural hair care line inspired by 90s hip-hop culture. Smith, a licensed cosmetologist, created the line to fuse her love for hip hop and salon-worthy hair care at home.

Doux’s lineup features a wide range of products from stylers to cleansers packaged in colorful, kitschy packaging with product names with world play that any hip-hop enthusiast or lyricist would appreciate. Case in point: The brand’s bestselling Bonita Afro Balm, or its shampoo, and Big Poppa Defining Gel.

Bringing salon-quality care to people at home was a key mission for Smith, who owns her bespoke Doux salon in Georgia. With a brick-and-mortar shop and products that perform, The Doux has a reputation for excellence, and it’s just only getting started. Ahead, we caught up with Smith to discuss how she built her hip-hop-centric brand and why it deserves a spot on your wash-day lineup.

How would you describe your natural hair journey growing up?

I grew up in the 80s, and 90’s when sadly, “natural” wasn’t a thing unless your curl pattern was naturally loose or wavy. I rocked a weekly press and curl, and I didn’t relax my hair until I left home at 18-years-old, and started wearing my natural curls a few years later.

What inspired the brand name “The Doux”?

Doux, pronounced “dew,” is French for smooth, soft, mild, or “cool.” We are all of that.

How does your background as a licensed cosmetologist influence the formulation process of the products?

The most significant point of difference for The Doux is that I’ve spent years testing each product for salon performance. The products we’ve created are a direct result of client feedback and over two decades of work behind the chair. Our clients don’t play about long-lasting results, so we made products that deliver. We opened our salon before the idea of a product range emerged. I consider myself a stylist first, and my products have always been an extension of who I am as a stylist and an artist.

Hip-Hop famously inspires your products. Why did you choose this genre to coincide with your brand?

Hip-hop is one of my most significant creative influences, so it tends to come out in all of my work. The 90s era of hip hop music I grew up with was fun, vibrant, and conscious. I felt that was missing from the hair care experience, and I wanted to bring that to the table.

As a huge hip-hop enthusiast, what artists are you streaming the most?

This year is all about B-girls and women in hip hop. Latifah, MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, Salt’n’Peppa, Missy, Lauryn Hill, Bahamadia—to name a few— are all in rotation. We also have four volumes of DouxSchool Mixtapes that feature my favorite music on Spotify. Check it out!

The Doux has a few new launches that include accessories and a deep conditioning mask. What are some of your expert tips for the wash-day deep conditioning process?

Cleanse thoroughly first. A common mistake when conditioning is to focus on deep conditioning without making sure the hair is free of product buildup. I find that shampooing at least twice helps the hair absorb more water and conditioner.

Still, I think it’s important to not over-condition, which many of us do. Leaving a deep conditioner on too long can create a waxy layer that makes the hair feel brittle. It would help if you let your deep conditioner sit a few minutes before you detangle, and this allows the cuticle to relax and helps reduce friction when you’re unraveling knots from the hair.

What has been your greatest entrepreneurial moment?

There are many, but I’ll never forget walking into Target with my family the week of our launch and seeing our hard work on shelves.

 Why is education a cornerstone of the Doux?

I believe that the best way to serve people with textured hair is to empower them by helping them to understand the truth about the science of hair care. When you know better, you Doux better.