Inspired by hardship, student creates natural hair remedies

Rachel Falls, Staff Writer

After being diagnosed with Lupus, theatre arts senior Gabby Landry started to lose her hair. In order to take charge of her life and her hair, Landry has began building her own hair-care line.

“When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, I would go into the shower and clumps of my hair would fall down my body when I washed my hair,” Landry said.

Landry was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of 18. She has two types: Chronic Cutaneous Lupus, which makes lesions form on the skin, and Lupus Nephritis, which affects the kidneys.

“My kidneys function at about 20 percent, compared to a person who has fully-functioning kidneys,” Landry said. “That’s only a fifth of the level they should be at. If they fall below 12 percent, then a person goes on dialysis. Eventually, in five years, I will need new kidneys. It’s so scary because it kind of puts a time frame on living life fully.”

After never being completely happy with the level of breakage protection that other hair care products offered, Landry said she decided it was time try her hand at making products.

“I was tired of spending so much money on so many products while trying to find the right balance and nothing was working,” Landry said. “My hair was still dry and it was breaking off, so I decided to make my own products.”

As of right now, Landry has been undergoing three years of steroid treatments to manage the Lupus. These treatments, she said, cause irritation that her hair care products have eased.

“Steroid treatments involve a series of shots in the affected areas, mostly my scalp and lower back, that last 3-5 hours,” Landry said. “My products have helped my regrowth. I even have deep conditioners that help with inflammation of the scalp.”

Landry leads an ayurvedic lifestyle, a system of Hindu traditional medicine which translates into her products, as they are 100 percent all natural.

“It’s food for hair,” Landry said. “I’m also very much about healing the body through what the earth gives you, so I incorporated that into my hair care line.”

Landry said her family background and how different generations used to care for their hair naturally also influence her product line, Papeli & Maedorá.

“What I think is beautiful about my family is it’s so mixed and diverse,” Landry said. “We have literally every different type of person in my family. All different types and colors of hair and it’s so beautiful. On top of things, my grandparents and great-grandparents would use natural products in their hair to keep it nice, healthy and strong.”

The name Papeli is Farci for “butterfly” and Maedorá is the name of her great-grandmother from Brazil.

“The name comes from my heritage, which I’m extremely proud of and connected to,” Landry said.

Since the product is still in its beginning phases, Landry has been sending samples to different friends and family members, asking for their opinions.

Landry’s roommate and Loyola alumna, Rebecca Moore, A’13, said she  acts as a guinea pig for testing Landry’s new products.

“I have pretty dry hair and I shed a lot, so the products make my hair feel softer and healthier,” Moore said.

“Gabby has been giving it out to her friends and family and has had them take pictures of their hair during the process of using the product,” Enjoli Gilbert, Landry’s partner in building her business, said.

As of right now, Gilbert and Landry are building the brand, designing logos and creating websites.

“Gabby is going back to [Washington D.C.] when she graduates, so we are working on it all while we are together,” Gilbert said. “I’m going to be the graphic designer, doing the logos and the branding.”

Landry said that one of the hurdles has been deciding on a company to package the product, since she wants an all-natural theme throughout the line.

The products, which will be named after different goddesses, will be personalized for each individual customer based on their hair type and problems.

“I wanted people to know that this isn’t just a line that caters to people with hair like me, which is thick and curly; each product is specialized for different types of hair,” Landry said.

Each customer also has the choice to pick out one of 30 different essential oils to be infused into their product.

Right now, there are a handful of finalized products: three shampoos, three daily conditioners, six deep conditioners and an array of styling creams. At this moment, the launch date goal is Spring 2015.

Hair care won’t be the last stop for Landry, despite her illness. Right now, she is working on lotions, body butters, face washes and masks.

“I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but Lupus is my reality and every day, I try to make the best of it,” Landry said. “That is what this hair care line is — me making the best of it. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. This is my lemonade.”