#YumYum: Bradley Lincoln Founder of Mix-d:
Last month Yindi were lucky enough to catch up with Bradley Lincoln the founder of charity and new UK hair product Mix-d: as he sets out to find the face of the brand. The results of the competition are looming, so we thought we'd pick his brains one more time to get the 411 on social initiatives, being mixed race in the UK and what he'd tell his younger self.
Tell us about Mix-d: When did you start it? Why did you decide to start it?
I became a consultant over 15 years ago around the subject of mixed race identity. I was responding to a curiosity, so many professionals I met were unsure on the terminology and language to use around mixed race identity. Many white parents that I'd meet were trying to find ways to better support their mixed-heritage child and lastly the young people from mixed race backgrounds that I encountered, would often say to me that they felt pulled and people accused them of not being black,white or Asian enough.
So three audience groups; parents, professionals and young people were all asking me or expressing a desire to learn more about the subject. I felt there wasn't a central place they could go to ask questions. So I decided to apply the training I had and create Mix-d:.
How did the Face of Mix-d: competition go?
Well actually, we've had a great response. We're excited to reveal the winners over the coming days, but what was interesting was the breadth of the response from countries outside of the UK. We had contestants from Prague, Venezuela, South Africa- I was really surprised. It was refreshing to receive responses from people across the globe.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start an initiative that benefits their community?
I'd say the real you is better than the fake you. So do something that you actually believe in. When I started Mix-d: I probably met more resistance then I thought I would. When people start something that they are genuinely passionate about, they don't see the down sides that other people might see. There needs to be a level on naivety when you start something, so just get it out there and start sharing it. You've got to be passionate about the subject and believe in it and want to make it happen or be open enough to allow the idea to grow. My project grew because of all the young people I spoke to, and when I started I was just a young researcher who was interested in the subject and wanted to find out what the younger generation felt about the subject. I had to be much more open, much more removed and position myself as a learner. It was fascinating to hear about it from their perspective. Be vulnerable, be open and follow something you believe in.
We're so excited for the launch of the Mix-d: hair products your launching this year. What else have you got in the pipeline?
We like the process of co-creation and listening to our audience group. Much of the feedback we are receiving points towards a full product range, beginning with a styling cream or styling gel. So we want to continue creating products that people desire, but what I want to focus on is co-creation, so that the audience feels that they're building the brand as well. It's a product, it's a brand, its a philosophy.
The UK Afro/ Mixed hair market is heavily saturated with products from the states. How will you stand out from the bigger well-known brands?
I think we need to compliment what’s already out there, and manufacture a UK based product which sits confidently against other American brands. We can achieve this by following the 4 C's. Firstly Creation: The product has been co-created by its focus group, it isn't something we've just put out there. Secondly Consumer: I've thought about the consumer in relation to design, so somebody that isn't so clued up on hair care can go into a shop and see that the product is specifically for curly mixed hair. So that a Dad for example who's been sent to get it, knows what it is straight away. Thirdly Cost: I want to keep products at a mid-range price point, so that’s why I've manufactured here in the UK and finally the forth Communication: I believe it’s important we communicate this from the ground up, I haven't just come into this setting to make a commercial profit out of a group of people that are already buying products, I've been talking about the subject of mixed race identity for 15 years now, and out of those conversations has come this idea.
The Mix-d: Museum timeline on your website brilliantly shows the Mix-d: experience from 1900-present day in the UK. What piece of history resonated with you the most?
It was the history of the mixed relationship on the Titanic. Secondly my reason for developing the timeline was born out of an experience from working with kids. The students would ask me if I was the oldest mixed race man in the UK! It made me realise how much of a narrow European perspective had been given on the mixed discussion, so I wanted to make a positive contribution in photos, words and videos showing young people this is not an emerging population. We’ve been here for hundreds and hundreds of years, and we need to re-balance and compliment that history that’s already out there. I'm very proud of the timeline as its unlike anything else in the UK and we've been fortunate enough to work with social scientist Peter J. Aspinall and Dr Chamion Caballero a senior research fellow at London Southbank University. History is in the present as well as the future so I wanted young people to put their finger print on the future, and talk about what mixed race identity looks like for them, so that other young people can see how things have evolved. We've added a space so young people can continue to add their evolving stories of being mixed race in 2017 and beyond. Young people are the new advocates of the discussion.
Taking into consideration both aspects of Mix-d: Do you think the UK have a long way to go in the conversation on mix heritage, race and identity?
I think there’s more noise, it’s a bit like having English as an additional language but you don't quite get the comprehension beneath it. So, there is lots of talk about race and identity, but there isn't much of an emotional intelligence about how it fits into day to day life for individuals. I believe the Mid-d: project is here to compliment everything else that is out there to aid the conversation. When I look at the figure for interracial marriages in the UK, I believe in 2011 the figure stood at 2.3 million interracial marriages recorded, and that’s the largest collected recording globally. So, I think we're doing something well in the UK, but I think that people have allowed, been allowed to be more open with their discrimination. However, by no means do I feel that mixed race people are the answer for a societal utopia, racism is every bodies problem but I think it is getting better, or at least it's different to what it was in a more positive way, and there is still a way to go.
Who is your dream collaboration?
Everyday people. Do you know why? Because everyday people do not have access to this conversation. They are often talked about, for- but rarely with.Conversations are often hijacked from an academic perspective. So actually over time my most valuable collaborations have been with everyday people.
What has been your ultimate fist pump moment in creating your business?
There’s so many. When I collected the fist Mix-d: hair sample set, I was really proud to hold the bottles in my hand.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from Mix-d: Has it changed you?
You've got to do it yourself and you've got to believe in your ideas. you have to be persistent and try and find a way to stay strong and level in spite of whatever happens. You must enjoy each step of the journey, and take time to measure the small successes. Yes it has changed me and I think I've grown into a fuller version of myself.
Finally, what would you tell your younger self?
Everything will be alright, believe in what you believe in, because the world needs people who believe in different things. We can't all do it the same way. Pay attention to detail, keep your integrity and when you have a bad day take yourself to bed and start again.