Founder & CEO of The Hair Routine Clarissa de Queiroz
By Naeme El-Zein
Born in Rio, Brazil Clarissa de Queiroz never dreamed of a career in hair care. You could say love lead her to it - by way of Canada. After completing her degree, she followed her boyfriend to Montreal. Finding herself in a new country she sought the usual touchstones of home, including her beauty routine, to ease the transition. Frustrated in not finding the natural products she was devoted to in Brazil, she decided to start making her own. With little to no cruelty-free, vegan and clean products available, Clarissa saw a gap in the market and an entrepreneur was born. Approaching her fourth year in Canada and second year in business, the Brazilian beauty and boss of The Hair Routine talks self-care and nurturing your roots.
Name: Clarissa de Queiroz
NE: Do you believe in Astrology?
CdQ: My gawd sometimes I am scared! I am that person with their astrological map like, “Oh, that is why this is happening!” I am totally a Sagittarius. I just go for it without thinking. I mean, I moved from Rio to Montreal for a guy without knowing people or speaking the language. It was a bit impulsive!
NE: When you moved from Brazil to Montreal, what was the biggest adjustment?
CdQ: The weather was quite a shock. It is almost the total opposite. We have summer all year long basically. But the biggest culture shock was the motivation for my business; the way in which people take care of themselves. In Brazil, we are more connected to nature maybe due to the rainforest. Here, I found there is not as much in the way of sustainable products where the process respects nature. I was like well if it doesn’t exist here and I need it, I’ll have to create it!
NE: How does this connection to nature in Brazil manifest in beauty?
CdQ: We don’t try and change ourselves as much. We try and embrace what we have and make the best of it. Not that it isn’t fun to change it up to express who you are inside. But it is good to have a balance. The way that self-care is almost a form of meditation in Brazil, I see that growing in North America. Skincare is huge here but for hair there are not options. What Korea is to skincare, Brazil is to haircare.
NE: Why do you think Brazil is more advanced in haircare?
CdQ: The diverse population. We have all different ethnicities there. We have Africans, Natives and Europeans and with that comes all types of diversity in the texture of hair. Because we have all kinds of hair types, we had to discover how to care for it.
NE: Growing up, who shaped your perceptions of beauty and beauty rituals?
CdQ: My grandma. She didn’t do much, but she was always using her flower water or doing mixes as treatments with mangos from the tree in her backyard. I grew up seeing her taking care of her hair. And now she is seventy and she still has beautiful hair.
NE: Did you struggle with embracing your own hair as a teenager?
CdQ: Yeah as a fifteen or sixteen-year-old, I never understood how to take care of it. My father has curly hair and my mom has straight hair. It is not curly. It is not straight. It was always this in between and it was a struggle for me.
NE: How did you make the leap from making your own sustainable hair products to creating The Hair Routine?
CdQ: When I came here, I did not have a work visa. I had lots of time to search, think about my passion and what I would do. During this time, I also reconnected with myself and my own self-care rituals. And I started to mix my own products at home. I had the time so why not? But one thing I understood was that wasn’t doable long term. At the same time, people around me kept asking me what are you using on your hair? But it was not just about the products, but the process of taking care your hair and nature that people were not talking about. I wanted to share this.
NE: Ah, yes but still it is such a big decision to enter into business! Especially landing in a new country.
CdQ: Yeah, initially I didn’t know if I should create a blog or a YouTube channel with a series. But I am a bit shy so that didn’t seem to fit me. I had the opportunity to participate in the Founder Institute. It is an incubator for companies. I entered with this one idea, to teach people the methodology of hair care and with the possibility of making products. It grew from there.
NE: Most people will go to their local pharmacy, grocery store or salon and just grab a product. Where did you begin in the process of creating a product that can compete with the beauty heavy hitters?
CdQ: I started with the basics: a shampoo and a conditioner. What is a shampoo supposed to do? Clean the hair. I wanted something that would do this without stripping the hair. I started to look for Canadian labs that would partner with me. I wanted small labs that could develop a real partnership. Someone to sit and talk with me and discuss what are these ingredients and what are they actually doing to your hair? For me to be able to integrate my knowledge with them to create something amazing.
NE: What was the goal?
CdQ: I wanted the feeling of squeaky clean but without drying the hair. And for the conditioner to be light without residue. All the products needed to be multi-functional. There are three treatment masks too, in addition to the shampoo and conditioner, that is the core or what we call, “the hair routine”. These replenish the hair with the essential components: water for malleability, oil for shine and protein to repair and protect.
NE: What is the overall vision for The Hair Routine?
CdQ: The idea for the company overall is to be a go-to place for hair care. Not just for products but for information and to create a sense of community. I want people to have their hair care professional at home. You know when you go to the salon and you leave and feel like, “the goddess of softness” this is what I want for people, to give them the resources and tools versus parabens and chemicals.
What does beauty mean to you?
CdQ: I feel beautiful when I know I am taking care of myself. I really value the process. You are beautiful when you feel beautiful inside. I really believe that. The beauty industry has this stereotype of being superficial. Some people undermine the legitimacy of self-care saying, “Oh you know - you are not curing cancer!” But you know what, these products are not giving people cancer. So that is something.
Follow Clarissa @theHairRoutine