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Meet Brandie Kekoa of Be Kekoa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandie Kekoa.

Brandie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Behind every amazing brand is an equally awe-inspiring leader, visionary, and creative spirit. Be Kekoa(™) is no exception, with owner and CEO Brandie Kekoa at the helm.

Today, we’are lifting the veil behind the brand, and telling the story of Be Kekoa’s fearless female leader – Brandie Kekoa. With over a decade of industry experience, Brandie credits her grandmother and aunt for inspiring her journey into professional haircare and styling. “I remember seeing my aunt in the hair salon and thinking, I want to get paid to have fun.” But as Brandie’s passion for hair grew, so did her vision and ultimate direction.

After a couple of years working in a large salon, Brandie knew her time as a stylist only was drawing to a close. At the four-year mark, the salon environment had grown to become too much of a distraction – and it was officially a wrap. With dreams of salon ownership and creating her own line of products, Brandie stepped out on faith and created what’s known today as the Be Kekoa salon and haircare brand.

Six years later, the Be Kekoa Healthy Hair Studio in Temecula, California is thriving – breathing fresh life and curls by the pound into wine country. With a focus on growing and maintaining healthy hair, the Be Kekoa Healthy Hair Studio is always abuzz with faithful friends and new clients looking for a personalized approach to hair care.

While Brandie’s salon specializes in cutting, styling, and coloring natural hair, her client roster includes women (and men!) who regularly sit in her chair to receive thermal straightening services, too. Brandie is a certified Devachan and Ouidad stylist and has trained alongside industry giants like celebrity stylist Felicia Leatherwood. She’s even learned a few tricks of the trade under the late Titi Branch of Miss Jessie’s.

As a master of all textures and types, it was only right that Brandie goes all-in and launch her haircare line of the same name, Be Kekoa. The Be Kekoa brand was born from her married last name Kekoa, which in her husband’s native language means “warrior”. The bold, fierce, and courageous spirit of Be Kekoa is evident in the form and function of her entire product line and brand.

In an industry that awards conformity and puts certain curl types on a pedestal, Be Kekoa is proud to represent the beauty in every kink, coil, curl, and wave. “I was tired of using products that didn’t work for my type of curls,” explains Brandie on the origins of the Be Kekoa line of products. “All the bigger companies had rules and standards they expected their curly hair professionals to live by, and not everyone’s hair fits neatly into a little box. Some of my clients don’t have a visible curl pattern. Others have three, sometimes four different textures. The same product prescription doesn’t work for everybody – and it shouldn’t.”

“I’m a rule breaker – and everything Be Kekoa does is about breaking the rules. Our products. Our signature curl cutting method. Our Tamanu Oils.” Poised to disrupt the haircare industry in a major way, Brandie is sure that Be Kekoa will chart its own path to notoriety by avoiding trendy buzzwords and superfluous ingredient claims. “Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your hair,” explains Brandie. Brandie and her small but mighty team are working tirelessly to position Be Kekoa not only as a brand that is true for all hair types but also the first hair care brand to show and prove when it comes to giving back – starting with their line of Tamanu Oils.

Through their line of fair-trade, sustainably sourced Tamanu Oils, Be Kekoa ensures that the culture and mana of Huahine is preserved and appreciated with each bottle sold. For Brandie, fair-trade isn’t just about paying a fair price for goods and raw materials. It’s about building up people and communities – creating a ripple effect of economic empowerment that improves access to resources and the quality of life for all. It’s about sharing and paying homage to the people, their history and their culture – while appreciating the entirety of what they bring to the table.

“I’m tired of seeing big brands capitalize on the natural hair and indigenous communities and not give back.” A wonder woman in her own right, Brandie balances and wears a lot of hats. Wife. Mother of two. Daughter. Stylist. Salon Owner. Haircare company CEO. And more. That’s a tremendous load – even for the most ambitious among us. While Brandie juggles Tamanu Oil twist-outs and teenage melodrama with a hearty laugh and a smile, she’s managed to create a method out of the madness.

“I put my spirituality and my family first. Mixed with a little determination, everything else falls into place.” While other business owners focus on industry trends and investor relationships, Brandie’s biggest secret to growth and success isn’t based on fancy marketing or being a social media sensation. In fact, it’s pretty old school. Her secret? A positive mindset. “You’ll be surprised how far you get by wishing well for others and their success.”

Along with yoga and walking, gardening is Brandie’s favorite type of therapy. “I can garden all day barefoot,” she laughs. “It helps me slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.” Simplicity is at the heart of Brandie’s personality and resonates throughout the Be Kekoa brand. In fact, she’s is a self-proclaimed lazy natural. Wash & go’s puffs, and twist-outs are her low-maintenance go-to’s for styling.

Brandie’s favorite product? It’s a tie. “It’s so hard to pick – but I gotta say, Be Clean is my go-to. It’s a lazy natural’s dream product and I can’t live without it.” Tied with Be Clean is the Tamanu Oil. “All the Tamanu Oils in the collection are very special to me because I’ve got a special and real connection to the people and the island. Plus, it’s an amazing healing oil.”

Brandie and Be Kekoa’s climb to success is six years in the making, with no signs of slowing down. From Tamanu Oil Farm tours in French Polynesia to shower scene cameos on HBO’s Insecure, there’s more on the horizon – and you’ll have to stay in the loop to find out what’s next.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been a challenge balancing my rolls of CEO, Wife, Mother, and Daughter. With my mother recently being diagnosed with stage four breast and bone cancer these intense experiences of highs and lows have been transformational. Witnessing my mom Lola’s brutal struggle with cancer, and the strength she displays each day with the roller coaster of emotions, I thought I could either choose to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of her fight or be inspired by her grace each day, and I chose the latter.

Since my mother’s diagnosis, I have brought her full force into developing my Be Kekoa company with me. We have developed a product together that I named after her, the “Be Lola” Deep Conditioner, a testament to the fortitude of the human soul. This experience has brought us so much closer together as mother and daughter that we have ever been.

Be Kekoa, Inc – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Be Kekoa(™), Inc. is a 100% woman and minority-owned Healthy Hair Studio and beauty products brand uniquely positioned at the intersection of textured hair and natural skincare. Since 2011, Be Kekoa has taken the textured hair marketplace by storm – offering a personalized approach to healthy hair care for kinky, curly, coily, and wavy hair.

Kekoa means warrior in Hawaiian. The bold, fierce, and courageous spirit of Be Kekoa is evident in every service offered, every product created, and every satisfied client that leaves the salon chair more in love with their textured hair than when they arrived.

With signature services, powerful products, and pioneering endeavors in fair trade commerce Be Kekoa has created the blueprint for the true inclusion of all hair types while proving that businesses have an ethical responsibility to giving back.

Most Proud of:
I would say I’m most proud of the relationships we built with local indigenous Tahitian farmers of Huahine Tahiti for my Tamanu Oil products. Tamanu by Be Kekoa is sustainably sourced and ethically produced, Be Kekoa’s Tamanu Oil is the only oil on the market made with the mana and blessing of the people of Huahine Tahiti. It is produced in small batches, following the ancient custom of hand-pressing by a small network of families on Huahine. The sacred, indigenous process takes nearly a full year.

We have currently set up a similar project with my husband’s family on Kauai, indigenous Kanaka Hawaiian (original Hawaiians) farmers, to make traditional Kukui Nut Oil for the new product lines we just launched this year. We are bringing in the model we developed in Huahine Tahiti and hope to refine the partnership process on Kauai.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
In my industry, I feel the naturally curly hair products and services have become more visible to the public and will become a permanent part of the mainstream beauty industry. Traditionally this has not been the case in the natural wavy and curly hair market even though 80%-90% of all world population has a chance of inheriting the curly hair genetic trait. This is according to scientific statistical peer-reviewed studies like the one in “American Journal of Human Genetics”.

The Natural wavy and curly hair market have been traditionally treated as a separate section in beauty supply stores and natural curly hair education in traditional beauty schools have been severely lacking to non-existent. Brands like Be Kekoa is and will be on the forefront of delivering the natural curly hair education beauty professionals require to serve this large and recently more visible market segment. Check in with us and inquire about our seminars, workshops and Be Kekoa Healthy Curly System© Certifications we offer to Beauty Professionals.

We also offer Healthy Curl Basics© and Healthy Curl Boot Camp© for non-beauty professionals.

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