Not just another IG pretty face, @malaikaterry skyrocketed to social media fame when first spotted with rap mogul Drake in the couple’s hometown Toronto. At first look, this Canadian-Jamaican beauty seems to be winning at the pay-for-post game with sensational brands like Fashion Nova lining up to have Malaika show off their latest fits. But scroll further back on her IG page and you will discover she has been the driving force behind some seriously emerged lifestyle brands and even a tech company.
Malaika was not just a pretty face for hair and beauty brand @herimports, she played a vital role in their early marketing concepts and operations. Started with her brother and dad six years ago, Her Imports is much more than your friendly neighborhood beauty supply store.
she has been the driving force behind some seriously emerged lifestyle brands
The company is publicly traded (meaning it is listed on a stock exchange), and they have investors and other major retailers chasing their homegrown marketing tech.
Malaika recently picked up one million shares in the company and looks to be back in the management saddle. In two months profits have already jumped 32% and there is an obvious re-focus on social issues and making happy customers.
You’re absolutely stunning! What’s your secret?
My mom’s from Jamaica, so she wanted to raise us the same way she was brought up. Which was a very healthy lifestyle. I have my weeks where I’m not in the gym, and eating bad- and I immediately feel terrible. I’m not even concerned with how I look, its honestly about how I feel. When I’m eating right, and working hard- I feel like I’m on my A-game. My mom’s 45 and looks like she’s my age… All because of staying healthy, and good genes. I’m trying to walk in her footsteps.
You mentioned your Jamaican, I never would have guessed?
Yes! I’m Jamaican, and proud. I know my skin’s fair, but living in Toronto will do that to you… Me and and my siblings are all different shades, some brown skin, light skin, and ever more fair skin than me.
First, the obvious… what’s it like knowing drake???
He’s phenomenal, he’s an amazing guy. The attentions so overwhelming though. The rumors, the hate- the attention is a bit much, especially when you’re not used to it. But I blocked it all out, and stayed focused on what’s important to me.
You guys definitely took over Instagram. Was it planned?
No, definitely not. We’re FRIENDS. We were just hanging out, we didn’t think anything of it.. but anything he does makes a headline.
Seems official now, Drake’s a daddy. What do you think about that?
He’s a good man. He’s a caring man. I judge people by their intentions and his are as good as they come. I have no doubt any child of his will have the best life he can give them. He has so much to give, and that has less to do with money and more to do with character. My dad’s my best friend, and I wish that for him and his son as well.
Let’s switch gears! Your company Her Imports took over the hair extension game. How?
Well, 7 years ago when the company first started, social media was just starting to boom really. We started with pics, then videos Content is king. You can easily spend over 10k on a photoshoot after paying models, photographers, MUAS, stylist, etc. I was super young at the time, but I remember telling my dad “ why don’t we use that money to actually help people, create a story, and use that for content” …so like paying for someone’s college tuition, helping young girls with their prom, cancer make overs..
1. It shows that we genuinely care
2. We solve problems- originally
I think that’s what defines an industry leader
Why did you leave?
I felt like everything was on autopilot. The brand was established. I went to work on a new project working with electric vehicles. They’re amazing, I actually have a Tesla. Once you drive one, you’d never want anything else in my opinion. The business is doing very well, it’s called plugz.
Why did you come back?
In my opinion her imports got very corporate, very fast. We stopped doing everything that we were doing in the beginning.
Ok but why’d you come back?
It was a process, but It started when Houston had that big flooding. I was in Spain visiting my dad, and all these pictures of stranded children were all over the place. MY dad loves children, I have 13 siblings. So he immediately was trying to help solve this issue. We posted on our Her Imports page, asking people to DM us if they needed help. He was on his phone all night, DM’ing and reaching out to anyone he could find. He put them in hotels, and had our CS team ordering pizza for the kids. That came out of his personal pocket, not company money… It was genuine care. Next week our sales we’re through the roof- none of this was orchestrated obviously, but It reminded me of who/what we are as a company. So, here I am.
So what now?
We have a LOT going on. Really good stuff, stuff nobody else is doing, we’re fixing a lot of problems. I’m focusing on acceptance. Young girIs feeling insecure, and not accepting themselves. Colorism, women rights.. Touchy subjects, but if no one speaks out about it, nothing will change. feel like there’s so many issues that we deal with, but don’t say anything about. If I can grow a company and start to improve this mess … that’s GOOD work.
You said “girls don’t accept themselves”. How do you fix that?
Social media is a big part of our lives. You see more people online, then you do in real life. Most of these people that these young girls see online, look picture perfect. A lot of it is angles, photoshop, surgery… but they don’t know that. They’re almost expected to feel insecure. And corporate America is even worse, especially retail. How do you make a girl feel like she needs make up? You force these unrealistic expectations in front of her. Pouty lips, bolder brows, a contoured face….These companies spend fortunes on ad campaigns, packaging, and prime retail space..When you walk into a high end department store, the first thing you see is a tube of lipstick that cost about .15 cents to make. Convincing us that is worth $40. Why not just market it as fun, not necessary, and charge $5 and not $40.