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Hair Story Spotlight: PATTERN CEO & Founder Tracee Ellis Ross

Hair Story Spotlight: PATTERN CEO & Founder Tracee Ellis Ross

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By Tracee Ellis Ross

If my hair could talk, oh, the stories it would tell. I can literally chronicle my journey of self-acceptance through my journey with my hair. It was long road to knowing, understanding and, eventually, loving my curls.

Growing up, society told me there was a right way to wear my hair and a right way to look. Beauty was definitely not something I felt related to me. As a kid I watched Wonder Woman and Carol Burnett, I listened to Madonna, watched Sixteen Candles, and I saw Pantene and Jean Naté ads. I got the message that I could be strong, powerful, silly, glamorous, in charge and smart; but I also got the message on what was considered beautiful. I did not see my hair, my lips, my eyes, my tusch, the color of my skin in the images in magazines, on television or in the movies. So, I took notes on what was expected of me, where I fit in and where I didn’t. I was very aware of what the standard was and how I didn’t measure up. 

Founder Tracee Ellis Ross growing up

Those ideals didn’t match what I saw in the mirror, so I tried to beat my curls into submission— putting body lotion in my hair, sleeping in rollers and spending entire Saturdays at the salon waiting for a blowout. I weakened my hair with chemical relaxers, texturizers and ponytails so tight they gave me a headache. I’m not going to lie—I even whipped out a clothes iron in an attempt to straighten it that way.

 Trying to make my hair look “easy and breezy”, “bouncin’ and behavin’” actually had the opposite effect. My hair was broken, damaged, and tired of trying to be something that it wasn’t.


Founder Tracee Ellis Ross teenage years


At 15 I finally took the leap and stopped relaxing my curls, thereby beginning the healing journey towards loving my hair. It was a steady, never-ending stream of products, self-education and experimentation. And checking the weather: rain and humidity were not my friends. Even hairdressers didn’t have much to offer me as I tried to understand my natural hair texture. So, I logged never-ending hours in the trenches of my hair, and I became my own experiential expert.

 By the time I made it onto Girlfriends in 2000, I was one of very few women who were wearing their hair naturally in Hollywood. Which meant I had to be very protective of the healthy hair I had worked so hard to cultivate.  My early days on set were spent waking up hours before call times to do my own hair, and I quickly learned that no one knew my hair better than me and no single brand offered what I needed.

 As my platform expanded so did my hair possibilities. It’s now been two decades of building a foundation of trust with my hair and those who follow it. My hair is healthy and able to do almost anything, but up until now for me the line of products still didn’t exist that could bring together all the pieces at attainable price points for all.

 So that’s why I was inspired to create PATTERN. This has been 20 years of dreaming, 10 years in the making (I wrote my first brand pitch in 2008 right after Girlfriends), 2 years of working with chemists, and 74 samples later. I can’t wait to share PATTERN with the world—this is a brand that brings together all the pieces that I’ve been looking for: the line of hair care and styling tools that I wish had always existed.

PATTERN was created to bring curly, coily, and tight hair textures to life, to empower others to gain a loving relationship with their hair and to celebrate it for what it is: magic. I couldn’t be prouder of my hair journey and where it has taken me.

Founder Tracee Ellis Ross present


Tracee Ellis Ross is the founder and CEO of PATTERN based in Los Angeles. You can follow her @traceeellisross and at https://www.traceeellisross.com/

We’d love to hear more on your hair journey. Please email us at hello@patternbeauty.com for a chance to be featured.



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Reviewed by Ashley Ludgood

With over 12 years of experience in the beauty and fashion industry, Ashley Ludgood brings a wealth of expertise to her current role at PATTERN. Her insights have been featured in reputable publications like American Salon Magazine, American Spa Magazine, and Skin, Inc. Ashley has also shared her knowledge at conferences, including Face & Body, demonstrating her ongoing commitment to contributing to the industry. Having been an integral part of the team at PATTERN for nearly 4 years, Ashley continues to make significant contributions. Holding a degree in Journalism from Northwestern University, she remains passionate about her field. Among her favorite products, Ashley turns to the PATTERN Styling Cream, Moisture Milk, and the Cleansing Shampoo as her go-to essentials.


Just heard you on Kimberle Crenshaw’s podcast and learned about Pattern! I cannot wait to try it. Thank you, Ms. Tracee!


I will like to try this product. I color my hair though.
Please advise…

Maxine Wilson

Hello, I am young lady who is having a real hard time with my hair. I just recently turned 50. and believe me I don’t know what to do with my hair. so I would like for Ms. Ross to please please help me . I don’t know what texture my hair is but it is me and I love my hair . ponytail every day and even now . can you please help me . I would like to feel beautiful with beautiful hair as well. . I am going to try your products and see if I can get to Jupiter with it. Thank you for all that you do for all young black strong beautiful women.

Thank you, Cynthia Foster


I am so thankful that you have come out with this product. I had see you give a shout out to the pattern products on the Gram and got really excited as I am a follower. Prior to 2015, I did not require anything to put on my hair, but like a lot of African America women I have lupus and finding something that doesn’t cause adverse/side effects to my scalp and hair as I take chemo drugs to calm my lupus flares. I am sure I am not the only one that is using it, just wanted to say Thank you for coming out with a wonderful product, no complaints user since 9/25/19


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