Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lorraine Massey update

A couple of you have asked me whether Lorraine Massey phoned me as she said she would after receiving my response to her message. (To recap, she wrote me in response to a blog post I wrote about how I wished she'd do another book, start a blog, and explain the 'cones in some of her products. I posted her message and my response to it.)

Upon receiving my email, she wrote me back very quickly on April 4 and said:

thank you so much,Sage
i love your search curl truth,i am like you that way !![it gets me into trouble at times]
if i may add , i am a hairdresser that works all day behind the chair with my curly clients,whom i adore!
So i don't always get on the computer !!
I am off today to a curly CURLlaberation in phoenix !
could we talk at some point?
i am quite a slow one handed writer ,
please be patient with Deva & me ....we come in curlpeace after all we are not talking about illnesses .recession or death here !! thank God !!!we have to get perspective
let me know, we could have a podchat if you'd like.
curl love ,curl truth & curlHIlites

The message is simultaneously gracious and annoyed, which is a hard balance to strike. :) (I didn't clean it up at all -- what you see is what she typed.)

It's obvious to me, though, that she did want to talk. However, she did not seem to agree with me that the concerns of the curly community were quite as dire as I'd represented them. Perhaps not. But if Deva were my business, I'd want to do all I could to squelch rumors, clarify misunderstandings, and present my business as an honest and forthright one. Her message left me feeling like I cared more about how Deva looked than she did.

Nevertheless, I told her I'd be happy to talk and gave her my phone number. But it is now April 19 and I have heard nothing.

Now, there's no denying that answering to one little blogger in a sea of curly-headed devotees who will buy Deva no matter what is probably not that big a priority for Lorraine Massey. Hers is a big (and growing) company and my 1300 visitors a week pose little threat to her empire. I get that. I also understand that the demands of her schedule are hefty and that her time is precious. But again, if it were my company, I would welcome the opportunity to rectify what is without question a whole bunch of confusion.

From what I can see, Deva has contracted with to present this marketing campaign (the "Challenge") and will be the mouthpiece through which Deva speaks. If it were speaking well, I could understand what a successful arrangement that is. But it isn't working well. The thread related to the Challenge is full of invectives, questions, and outright Deva-bashing. (Deva has a few supporters but honestly, they do not impress me as people who feel comfortable questioning corporate motives or accepting that a company might be capable of lying. They want to trust slick marketing messages and smiling shills. Sorry if you're one of those people and I've just offended you, but hey, it's my blog and I can say what I want here.)

I guess the question I'd like to pose to anybody reading this is: If you were Lorraine Massey, what would you do?

Deva has attempted to address the labeling situation with the following statement Gretchen at recently posted:

Deva decided to use existing packaging (labels, bottles & components) to avoid delaying the introduction and availability of the newly formulated silicone- and paraben-free Deva Curl One Condition as well as to avoid packaging waste. Moving forward, Deva has implemented transition procedures to make sure the new packaging coincides with any new silicone and paraben-free formulations.

We apologize for the confusion and are committed to doing a better job in the future. We appreciate your faith in Deva and your patience while we work on bringing exciting new silicone- and paraben-free products to you.

This statement appeased some people, but not most of us. Again, we were glad that Deva took the time to respond to our concerns, but the statement they released is pretty ridiculous and full of holes:

- Just how long does it take to get labels printed? Does a new formula honestly get created and bottled and distributed faster than accurate labels can be printed and slapped on bottles? Was this formula such a last-minute surprise that there was no time for labels?

- Claims of avoiding packaging waste are very amusing to me, considering that Deva has been advocating the use of paper towels to dry clients' hair for several years now. Taking an environmentally conscious stand at this juncture rings a tad false for Deva.

- It's nice that Deva, "moving forward," will see to it that the labeling transition from old formula to new will be better. That's good because I'm sure that's what the FDA would like to see, too.

- As I posted in the Challenge thread at, an industry insider recently explained to me that this sort of "label catch-up" is quite common in the beauty industry. The FDA either turns a blind eye to it or companies just don't divulge that they're still using old labels on new products, mostly because it is a temporary measure. Most companies handle this quietly but Deva kind of messed up and put the cart before the horse by announcing the new formula before the labels were on the bottles. It's important to note that Deva was not trying to intentionally mislead us all -- I think they just stumbled and made a mistake. Unfortunately, it was a confusing mistake and it left a lot of people angry about mislabeled products. Deva should have clarified this way sooner than it did.

So, folks, unless I hear from Lorraine Massey, I'm putting this matter to rest. There's so much more to talk about in the curly world than one line of hair products.


Christina said...

Hi, I think she is full of shit. I highly doubt that she spends 8 hrs a day behind a chair, still cutting. She is running a multi level business ie: salon, products, staff, marketing, etc. Plus her travelling to cities foing the training.

I think she is doing an excellent job at passive agressivly manipulating you (Or at least trying) know, almost like a stoner saying "Heyyyy mannnn, no worriesss,..its not like we're killing anyone hereeeee". I like your intuition on this. I agree, and the labels?? Holy poop, if she did change her formula to something so fabulous, why NOT pour some more $$ into new labels to reflect the *new and improved* aspect. Something smells.....

kathymack said...

Another great blog, jillipoo. I agree with you on putting it to rest, too much free publicity, LOL! Let's talk about the products and companies we all feel comfortable supporting.

CurlyCara aka Cara Lynn said...

Sage, my love, it was a fabulous read once again, and right about the whole point of unless she "pod whatever the hell she said"'s you lets put it to sleep. I've never used DEVA except for the Set It free which did absolutely nothing for me. I could have gotten better results from water, anyways. Like I said fabulous read, and if you ever need to chat you know where to find me doll.

What's for Dinner said...

As a curly hairdresser and user , seller and follower of Loraine and the whole "curly girl" process I just have a couple of comments.

Yes, Loraine is booked a year in advance and does spend eight hours a day cutting hair. At the salon I work in we refer to her as a "curly hair sevant".

As a twenty year hairdresser I have observed companies and their label and product reformulations time and time again . It can be frustrating. Aveda used to just pull the products off the shelves for months when they reformulated.

The bottom line for me is Deva works best for me and most of my curly girls ... but to each their own.

Becky said...

I would just ask if you have even read the book? Personal feeling for Lorraine aside, in the book she explains that you do NOT need to use Deva products. She shows you what to avoid when buying ANY brand including over the counter and how to make your own at home. If this were all just about her product line, she would NOT have done that. I'm sure she does want Deva to grow, but I am also positive she doesn't hand approve every single aspect of every single thing. Lord knows I wouldn't have the time! I believe you were correct when you said this matter should be put to rest. Lorraine has spent YEARS compiling the info she is sharing with us, and I am more than happy for it. Without it I would still have crappy hair. But she is ONE person! And as she grows, her info will too.