Chris-Tia Donaldson is the founder and CEO of Thank God It’s Natural (T.G.I.N.). A hair care line designed for women with natural hair. Since launching in 2013, T.G.I.N. has seen great success both in the U.S. and across the globe. With products sold in Target, Ulta, Walmart, and Whole Foods, to name a few.
The Detroit-native began her journey into the world of natural hair in college. Chris-Tia says, “While at Harvard for college and Law School, I decided to grow out my relaxer. Though the idea of not having a relaxer made me feel like there was no way I would still look presentable. So, I found a hairstylist who helped me with transitioning and would press my hair bone straight. This allowed me to have healthier hair and still conform to beauty standards.” After working in the corporate world, Chris-Tia had even more pressure to wear her hair straight. Being told how natural hairstyles were unacceptable.
A year into her law career, Chris-Tia was told by her then-boss that she did not have what it took to be successful. Upon hearing that, she said, “I realized that I made all these sacrifices, and it didn’t work. So, I went on to write my first book, Thank God I’m Natural. It was the ultimate guide for caring for natural hair.”
The book, as she describes as “lightning in a bottle,” made Chris-Tia an expert in the media. Having had features in USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, and Black Enterprise. She then traveled across the U.S and South Africa, educating women on caring for their natural hair. “While there were women who wore their hair natural, it wasn’t as many as today. So, I attended different trade shows, churches, libraries, bookstores, and meetups. I was building this grassroots following of people who were aware of the product. And that was the beginning of T.G.I.N.”
In 2015, two years after the launch of T.G.I.N., Chris-Tia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She describes that year as both the best and worst year of her life. Saying, “In March of 2015, we launched in over 250 Target stores nationwide. Then nine months later, I was diagnosed with stage two, breast cancer. The experience was pivotal because as I was undergoing treatment, T.G.I.N. grew. It doubled from a revenue standpoint and quadrupled from a distribution standpoint.”
“It showed me the importance of rest and having a great team and being mindful of my stress levels. So many times, especially for Black women, we are not paying attention to our bodies. And building this company while working full-time contributed significantly to my health condition.”
Christ-Tia said that her greatest impact has been through her TGIN Foundation. Their mission is to support uninsured women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. One of the ways they are helping women is through a partnership with Lyft. This partnership provides transportation for women to their breast-health-related appointments.
“During my cancer treatment, I learned that it doesn’t always equal survivorship. Even though a lot of people think it does. There are many non-coverable costs that the patients are responsible for, which can sometimes be a major barrier to treatment. So, I’m most proud of my work in helping our foundation get off the ground and serve our community in that way.”
As for Chris-Tia’s legacy, she wants to continue being an influence in her employees’ lives. She said, “When we first started, we were a four-person band and have since grown to 25 people. I want my employees to be the best that they can be.”
“Entrepreneurship is powerful because of the wealth creation. Not only for the owner but the employee as well. Whatever trainings my employees are interested in, I want to make it happen. These are skills that they can build upon whether they take another job or stay with us. I want my employees to share in this success because the pie is big enough for us all.”
Chris-Tia’s latest book, This is Only a Test: What Breast Cancer Taught me about Faith, Love, Hair, and Business, is currently on sale. For more information on Chris-Tia and all things, T.G.I.N. visit https://thankgoditsnatural.com/.
Contributing Writer Racquel Coral is a national lifestyle writer and journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Find her on social media @withloveracquel.