Nene’s Secret Designed to Meet Ethnic Hair-Care Needs

Products designed either for straightened hair or natural curl simply aren’t enough anymore.

Items from the Nene's Secret line.

NEW YORK — Products designed either for straightened hair or natural curl simply aren’t enough anymore.

To serve the needs of African-American women and men who want to experiment with products for a variety of different hairstyles, Brian Marks is rolling out his latest line, Nene’s Secret. Nene, Marks’ wife and a former model, handpicked ingredients from Africa, including baobab, Kalahari melon and chocolate, for the formulas.

Marks has extensive experience in developing ethnic hair-care brands, having launched African Pride in the Nineties and, most recently, Dr. Miracle’s, which he subsequently sold.

Retailers said the timing for Nene’s Secret is key and they hope it can offset sluggish sales in what were once robust segments in the ethnic category, such as relaxers. Sales of relaxer kits dropped 7.2 percent in food, drug and mass doors, according to Symphony/IRI data for the 2012 calendar year. Marks said Nene’s line of seven stock-keeping units fulfills unmet grooming needs. The range includes a leave-in conditioner, a scalp treatment, a curl crème, a styling pudding, a strengthening serum and a masque to restore damage. Nene Marks herself appears on the packaging illustrating the variety of hairstyles the products can maintain.

“We know women want a choice to be natural one day or straightened another. This line is created to help African-American women be happy with their hair,” said Brian Marks. “Black women don’t have one look. They might want curly one day and straight the other,” he said.

Marks said Nene’s Secret will be promoted via the primary social media outlets. Prices range from $8.99 for the leave-in conditioner to $12.99 for an all-natural butter.

Retailers said ethnic hair is a crucial department for them since it helps set them apart from specialty stores. “It is one category where we don’t compete with, say, a Sephora,” explained one retailer. “We really need to be on target with our selection, and the category was in need of updating.”