Substance is a naturalist, entrepreneur and owner of Tikuri Collection. She recognizes the beauty within and provides clients with natural haircare products, education and tips thru her unique brand and personal connection. She speaks about her Ethiopian ancestry and transition from living in the Bay Area to Los Angeles and weaving herself into Leimert Park’s cultural tapestry.
By LaMar Anderson | January 28, 2021 | 6:00am
Please tell us your name and the name of your business, as well as what is its specialty.
My name is Substance, and the name of my business is Tikuri (pronounced Ti-Kur) Collection. I am a natural hair enthusiast. My brand is my way of trying to merge the African Diaspora through hair education. I like to provide hair education with hair tips with every bottle I sell to every person I meet. So, aside from selling a product, I like to make a personal connection, and the main people I sell my product to are African Americans or Black. I think that is unique to my brand-my personal connection.
Where are you from originally?
I am from the Bay originally. I came to LA in 2019 in September. A bunch of transitions since I moved to LA.
Has entrepreneurship always been a part of your life journey or family upbringing?
My dad definitely was an entrepreneur; he was a taxi driver but decided to have his own restaurant. So I’ve definitely seen my dad work for himself and have to wake up early in the morning and grind and hustle every day. I feel like that’s where I gain my work ethic personally. A lot of family of mine have restaurants or their own businesses, so yeah, entrepreneurship’s something that’s definitely important.
Being in LA, the culture, made me want to be an entrepreneur. You see an Abuela selling hotdogs in the corner from sunrise to sundown. The culture of LA made me want to pursue selling my own products and being shameless in that.
How long has Tikuri Collection been in business?
With this business specifically, since September , but I had a haircare line called “Simply Seven”, and the intention behind that was minimalism within the haircare regime back in 2013. I’ve been trying to put out a brand, but I wasn’t ready. Now I am ready moreso and really happy with how receptive the community has been to me.
Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind natural hair and Tikuri Collection as the name of your business?
I started my natural hair care journey like I told you in 2013. I grew up not really liking my hair and not really liking the fact that I was Ethiopian and trying to find a place within my own Black experience, my own identity. Realizing -okay, where do I fit in? I think natural hair was something that made me feel a connection to being Black and feeling an appreciation for who I naturally am and not conforming to European standards. That’s why I call it Black [ti’ku’ri (Amharic)] Collection because it’s my idea of breaking the mental slavery, European conditioning we’ve been forced into; I feel like my parents coming to America and having to assimilate into the American culture. Being a naturalist is a way for me to kinda rebel in my own right. Also, I’ve shown so many women how to embrace who they are naturally. There’s nothing wrong with weaves and braids, you know, that’s also a great business for Black entrepreneurs, young women, and men. Also, embracing who we naturally are, growing our hair, and seeing the beauty within all of us.
Why Leimert Park? What does it mean to you?
Leimert Park is something that’s super special. It’s different from anywhere else, honestly. Like I told you, I am from the Bay area. The Bay has it’s own African hub within Oakland and places that I grew up in and went to school. Coming here feels like a little bit of home but also different because it [LA] is just a fusion of all cultures. When you come to Leimert Park specifically, it’s like the Black experience times twenty. You have NOI [Nation of Islam] here, the Moors-the Christians you got everybody from different religions, backgrounds, the Rastafari’s. Young people-old people, people from all crosses of life in one place able to be functional with each other. Sometimes we are a dysfunctional family, but it’s a beautiful thing. It’s like coming to a family reunion every time I’m here.
What would you tell people who don’t know about Leimert Park in terms of what it’s missing or what they can expect?
One thing it’s not missing is culture. We got the culture here, so if you want to find out if you are of another race, obviously, you can find out a little bit more about being Black and the love and the unity that we have for each other. The creativeness within being Black, in general, that’s definitely what you’d find in Leimert Park.
Something that’s missing, well specifically, I’m a vendor, so it’s a little bit different being a vendor versus being a person with an actual storefront. What I notice is the organization; something with a little more structure as far as where vendors should go. It can be a little confusing and chaotic as far as how we can set up and have a bit of a flow of people coming in and making it a little bit more safe and discipline within that. That is something I feel like, within the Black community, we need just a little bit more structure when it comes to things; but we are learning. I am 26, so I feel like I am considered a part of the younger generation. I think something that would be great is if the older generation passed us the baton and fully accepts and embraces us and understands us a little bit more so we could really be in this space and have that unity that I know we are close to. I don’t think these are things we are 100% lacking; I think these are things that we can overcome as a community.
What can we expect from Substance and Tikuri Collection this year?
Moving forward, I am definitely expanding the brand and want more cultural things. Both my great grandfather and grandfather were the prime ministers of Ethiopia [Makonnen Endelkachew and Endelkachew Makonnen], so I feel like having that cultural heritage within me, I want to show it more. I want to show more art and more within myself and ancestry with my brand. I want people to get a little slice of Ethiopia when they come to me. Within that, it’s also me representing my culture and embracing it as much as I embrace the American side of me. As I step into 2021, I am stepping into my ancestors’ shoes.
How can we connect with Substance and support Tikuri Collection?
I have a website: TikuriCollection.com. You can order products from the website directly. Also, I usually vend in Leimert on Sundays. On social media, I have an Instagram @TikuriCollection. Feel free to check me out on Instagram, follow and comment, haha. Instagram is the main way and my website; I also have an email too if you have general questions and don’t have an Instagram: [email protected]
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