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Chera Howard

Entreprenuer
Inventor
Innovator

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Meet The Innovator

Chera Howard (her/she) is an Environmental Science student attending Auburn of Montgomery University, planning to graduate in December 2023 with an interdisciplinary degree in Environmental Science. As an entrepreneur, she engages in cosmetology,
logistics, and fitness businesses. Her STEM interests involve water conservation, soil preservation, and creating fire-resistant structures and communities; as well as being passionate about organic farming and committed to promoting sustainable agriculture
and better farming techniques. She is the founding president of Forsee LLC, which seeks to spearhead Economic Development in BIPOC communities. The company's goal is strategically creating an infrastructure for selling and manufacturing Afro hair
from barbershops with its patented and patent pending innovation. Additionally, Forsee, LLC aims to collaborate with  JLHEnterprises2018 INC to inspire BIPOC students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). We must do more than
have a seat at the table but be the table in combating climate change issues. We must revolutionize farming methods and reverse soil erosion, undoing the harmful effects of global warming and climate change.

My Story

Many ask the question of how the concept of Forsee came about. I would like to begin by saying that my vision was not an overnight situation. The gems were dropped over a period of many years. I grew up on a small farm. My father had a few cattle and a bait farm. There was a cotton gin that was not too far from my home. The cotton gin would discard cotton, and it was free to the public. My father would use the cotton mote mixed with soil and grow large fishing bait. He would pick it up from the cotton gin when it was available, and have stacked mounds, sort of like a reserve when he needed it. One day his cattle broke out of the fence and were eating the cotton mote. My father made the discovery that cotton motes could be used to feed his cattle. He would take cow manure and the old bait beds, which I now realize were worm castings, and make soil fertilizer for my mom’s plant and flower garden. Nothing was wasted. The gem of recycling was dropped and would evolve years later.

 

Becoming A Natural-Born Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship was poured into my soul at a young age, especially through my mom. My parents would always have side jobs to help ends meet. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, but she always used her talent to bring in extra money. She used her sewing skills to make these cute collars for little girl dresses. I remember when it was close to Easter, she sewed a lot of collars to sell. She loaded her kids up in her van, and we went to Selma. I still remember the location and the street. I was never a shy kid, always adventurous and precocious. I told my brother, “Let's hold the collars up close to the highway” My little brother and I are holding up these collars waving to the passing cars, and yes, my mom sold out. She told my brother and I we would get a treat for helping her. I remember my brother and I were so excited to get a honeybun from the convenience store. The entrepreneurial seed was planted!

 

As far as I can remember, I always had a passion for styling hair. I vividly remember taking much pride in dressing my dolls and styling their hair. After many attempts, I still remember the excitement of learning to braid around the age of 5. I pursued my dream to be a hairstylist and graduated with hours in hand to apply for my cosmetologist license the following summer. I opened my salon at the age of 17. As a hairstylist of Afro hair, the customers that I tried to avoid were the women that had natural hair, meaning that had not had a service of chemical straightening. The hair was in a natural state for hours to dry underneath the dryer and seemed that it never dried completely. This would equate to more time in the pursuit of drying the hair. The gem was dropped but would evolve many years later.

 

Journey Forward

Fast forward to 2019, a new Chera began to evolve especially after the setbacks as a result of divorce, losing my father, and a best friend to death. I decided I wanted to eat better, strive for a more holistic journey, and become more connected with the soil. I started a farm growing plants and vegetables. That summer year there wasn’t much rain. If I recall correctly, it was over a month before we received any rainfall, and temperatures were close to the 90s. Providing water for roots was an issue. I was aware of Afro hair water-holding capacity in its natural state, because of my experience with dealing with Afro hair in the cosmetology field. I started researching hair using fertilizer. Previous papers that were written proved that hair is a good fertilizer, but the drawback was the slow breakdown. A more immediate release of nutrients is needed for plant uptake. I experimented for years using hair to grow plants and flowers. It worked great, especially the water-holding properties. I was invited to Tuskegee BTW, where I met the former Mayor Neal of Tuskegee, who connected me to Dean Hill, who at that time was the Dean at Tuskegee. Dean Hill, Dr. Desmond Mortley, and Mayor Neal visited my farm. I was granted an agricultural scholarship, which further helps me apply the product to increase soil vitality.

Innovation Sparked

The discovery of the flame-retardant ability of processed Afro hair is unbelievable at times. We all know the story of Michael Jackson's hair set ablaze. I remember sitting at home one day researching an assignment, and the television was broadcasting the devastation of the wildfires out West. I said to myself, “Wow If we could find a solution to stop the spread or produce fire-resistant subdivisions, that would be amazing.” At that moment I googled what material is flame-resistant. To my surprise, it was revealed that wool was the most organic flame-resistant material. It came to mind a scripture that likened Christ's hair to wool. So, I'm thinking there is a hair type that is like wool, and Afro hair in its natural state is wool-like. I immediately went into my garage where I had processed Afro hair stored. I used the lighters that are used to ignite barbecue grills. I was amazed at the results and continued to test with higher temperatures. I also increased my research in the use of wool for fire-resistant products. To make a long story short, Forsee, LLC is determined to be the leading company in research on the benefits of using this organic polymer.

I have learned a huge part of science, not asking WHY, but asking WHY NOT?

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