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Dr. Syed with his mother, Hasnia, and three younger sisters. Pakistan - 1950s

About Us

Dr. Ali N. Syed’s journey began as a refugee, even before he even knew it. At the age of 2 years old, his family was forcibly displaced from their village near Ludhiana. Hearing that a mob was 15 minutes away and coming for their town, his mother Hasnia, a young mother and orphan raising her 3 younger siblings, gathered her young family and left. They narrowly escaped the violence. After fleeing to the nearest train station, they set off on the dangerous journey to Pakistan. They left everything behind.

Growing up in small and impoverished village in rural Punjab, and having to take care of her younger siblings after the death of her parents, Hasnia unfortunately wasn’t able to attend school. But she stressed the importance of education and spent her meager savings to make sure her children were able to attend school.

Government College Multan - 1961

Our Story

Dr. Syed eventually studied his way to a Masters of Science degree in Chemistry and began lecturing at Aitchison College and Foreman Christian College in Lahore. This eventually paved the way for him to move to Tanzania, Africa as a chemistry lecturer. After teaching in Dar-Es-Salaam for a few tremendous years, he made the big move to the US and began looking for work in Chicago.

The only problem was that nobody would hire him as a Chemist, despite his MS in Chemistry and extensive knowledge. He eventually found work as a janitorial technician for a few different manufacturing companies in Chicago.

Washing and cleaning large production kettles on daily basis, he started asking his supervisors technical chemistry questions. They eventually caught on to his potential, and gave him his first recommendations. But he got his break when he was finally accepted for an entry level lab position at Johnson Products Company. At last! He could finally apply his Chemistry knowledge!

Dr. Syed in his JPC office. Chicago - 1970s

Research

After developing award winning products and patents at Johnson Products and Soft Sheen in the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Syed became a renowned expert on the research and care of African descent hair texture.

In 1984, he started Avlon out of his own garage. Avlon grew quickly and became a popular brand for professional hair stylists around the world. But in the mid 2000’s, women of color with naturally coily and curly hair textures, began asking more and more: “What products do you have for my natural hair?” “What, from your product lines, should I use…could I use… to style and care for it?”

Dr. Syed had plenty of products that he could have recommended from Avlon, makers of Affirm and KeraCare. With over 30 patents focused on the care of textured hair, he immediately knew that more research had to be done. Why? Because his instincts led him to realize that what was being asked of him was much more than an ordinary recommendation.

Among the growing numbers of women who asked him personally about products for their hair, and who also frequently contacted him via email, there was an unmistakable and definite nuance. The products of potential interest were desired as much for what they were made of as what they could do for hair. Exploration into the desires and needs of this emerging consumer group, led him and the marketing team to spend lots of time on the specialty websites and blogs, reading every word and carefully viewing numerous online do-it-yourself videos.

“We learned so much about what women wearing natural-textured hair wanted and what they didn’t want in terms of certain ingredients such as mineral oil, sulfates and silicones. We also came to know what the natural ladies were doing to care and style their hair, and what they needed the products to do.” “We felt that we got into their hearts and minds”

– Dr. Syed.

Without hesitation, he and his highly experienced team of R&D chemists enthusiastically began to formulate and provide them samples of products, from cleansers… to moisturizers… to curl definers. It was a wonderful thing. But, not so fast! It took no less than a dozen professional hair care chemists, (several with Ph.D.’s), at least 10 professional hairstylists; countless happy “testers” among employees and the community at large; hundreds of research & development hours and hundreds of thousands of investment dollars to make the vision a reality.

It was all so worth it, because it culminated in the birth of a wonderful array of products, aptly brand-named “As I Am”.For starters, the line consists of 11 wonderfully formulated products designed specifically for tightly coiled and curly hair; each with an impressive ingredient listing that includes many of nature’s finest organic ingredients. As I Am is a separate and distinct enterprise, which markets unique and exclusively-formulated products.

More than just a return to natural in terms of the hair texture, women were also adopting a healthier, more natural approach to personal care overall. Products containing more organics were demanded, and there remained little tolerance for ingredients and styling processes that would damage or otherwise harm their hair. The vision began to emerge. Yes, there was an undeniable trend. Celebrating one’s own natural hair texture was now a lifestyle for many. Even among an increasing number of employees at Avlon, women began to embrace their natural tightly-coiled textures. Fortunately for them, they were able to provide face-to-face feedback to Dr. Syed for products that would moisturize and define their curl patterns.

“We want to give our customers, who primarily care for and style their own hair at home, the time and specialized attention they deserve. At the same time, our mission is to provide the very best products, education and customer service to each and every person who buys from us.”

As I Am is officially sold in retailers worldwide and through this website.

As I Am is 100% owned and operated by the Syed Family and is 100% Self Funded thanks to our loyal customers.

Thanks to you, we are able to stay independent and focus on the research & development of curly hair products.

We are not looking for investment or looking to raise capital.

We manufacture our own products at our Melrose Park, IL headquarters and do not offer private label services.

Sustainability

At As I Am, we care about the earth. Our goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. We are currently working on reducing our plastic consumption and improving reuse. Most of our products are Vegan, Cruelty Free, Fragrance Free, Paraben Free, PEG Free, Phthalate Free, & Talc Free. We mainly use recyclable packaging. All deliveries are carbon neutral.

As I Am Europe

As I Am® understands the needs of natural hair. No matter where you are on your journey, you will find our collections offer quality products that provide uncompromising performance. Our driving principle is ‘The Science of Haircare’ and we are amongst the industry’s original innovators, with 39 years of experience creating iconic products for textured and African Descent hair. As I Am delivers an exceptional haircare experience.