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Iles Formula People with Dafina Smith, the Founder of Covet and Mane

Dafina is an alumni of Georgetown University and has attended both USC Law School and the University of Cape Town. While at Georgetown University she was greatly influenced by the Jesuit emphasis on social justice and community service. She has been actively involved with volunteerism including Americorps and a Youth Board Member of Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

After graduating from Georgetown she began a career in Sales & Branding. As a former Buyer at Bloomingdales in the Men’s Fashion Dept she was responsible for purchasing & cultivating brands such as Fred Perry, Sean John and G-Star.

Leveraging her background in Celebrity Clientele in Event Management & Sales, she worked with the management team for Outkast, a rap duo from Atlanta, film & television projects including Class of 3000 on Cartoon Network & Idlewild on HBO. With a solid rolodex of celebrity business managers & attorneys, she transitioned to real estate sales with Sotheby’s International Realty closing deals for clients such as Beyonce, John Mayer and Nick Cannon.

She continued her career in catering to high-end sales & celebrities when she opened the flagship location of Sunny’s Hair & Wigs, a family-owned & operated boutique in Atlanta in 2007. 

Dafina Nya Smith - Iles Formula people

Under her guidance, the brand became a fixture of the Atlanta beauty community and was featured on shows including The Real Housewives of Atlanta, The Braxtons, Love & Hip Hop and What Chilli Wants. The brand developed partnerships with Film & TV Productions including Flight, The Fast & The Furious, The Hunger Games, Being Mary Jane, Teen Wolf and The Game.

In 2019 Smith launched a new venture focused on innovating the hand-tied hair extension market. Covet & Mane has become the industry pioneer empowering top Salons and Stylists to transform their earning potential by leveraging the power of premier hand-tied extensions. 

WWD declared, “Covet & Mane’s professionally applied hand-tied hair extensions have already found a cult audience.” Smith is a regular contributor to blogs, magazines and television shows as a Beauty and E-Commerce and Small Business Expert. She also is involved with Goldman Sachs and Tory Burch Foundation 10,000 Small Businesses Program.

She lives in Montclair, NJ with her twin sons and husband Ryan Smith an ESPN Host of Sportscenter and Outside the Lines. She’s a voracious reader of historical fiction and has an insatiable desire for International travel & street foods. 

Dafina Nya Smith - Iles Formula people

IF: What inspired you to create Covert and Mane?

I wanted to bring my experience as a Buyer in Fashion to the beauty world. I saw a lot of problems with the current distribution model and I felt that it was time to reimagine what the experience. Hair extensions are not taught in cosmetology school and it leaves a lot of practitioners to self-certify but not all certifications are equal. By creating a brand that is by Invitation Only we are able to curate and elevate the brand experience for the clients because they know that we have thoroughly vetted those who have access and can revoke access to those who don’t adhere to brand standards. It also allows us to have tighter control of our supply chain management and forecasting which is something that was always essential as a Buyer. 

IF: What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?

I love engaging and interacting with The Covet Collective. Right now we’ve had to migrate to virtual connections but any time that we are able to connect and engage with the artists who use our hair I truly feel aligned with my purpose.

IF: What is your relationship with your hair? 

Radical acceptance after 20 odd years of resistance. I have tight curls and about 20 years ago I stopped chemically relaxing my hair. I spend the next decade on a journey to find the right regimen and products that could alter my curl pattern to something that did not exist. I’ve made peace with my pattern, the actual length my hair grows to and it’s density and moved on.

IF: Your favorite destination?

Southern California. There is not a place on earth that I feel more aligned with vibrationally. I love the entire Southern region but if I had to pick one place it would be in West Hollywood particularly on Melrose Place. 

IF: Best fashion inspiration decade? 

I grew up in the 90’s and still love the entire decade from the grunge to the schoolgirl chic styles in Clueless. A choker, thigh highs, mary janes, flannel, and recycled Levi’s will always be my favorite. 

IF: If you were to treat yourself what would it be?   

In these crazy times, I would treat myself to a live-in hairstylist who could also tutor my children in phonics, math, and science. But I think living in Quarantine for a month is taking its toll.

IF: Your ultimate dinner party guests?

Naomi Campbell, Fareed Zakaria, Dolly Parton, My Father Errol Ennis 

IF: How did you hear about Iles Formula?

Most of our top Covet Collective Stylists swear by the products and scream it’s praised on Instagram

IF: Do you read directions for use? 

Every single word. For a while, I used to be a copywriter for Kiehl’s. I love the evocative language and thought that goes into a product packaging for beauty brands. I could spend hours in a beauty supply simply reading the ingredients, instructions, and description. 

IF: Do you read the composition of a product? 

Yes every single ingredient

IF: Your favorite Iles Formula product? 

The Serums. Period end of Story.

IF: Your favorite shower dance? 

Shimmy

IF: If you were to share one beauty tip with us today, what would it be?

Radically Accept the flaws and then learn to accentuate it. I think the world needs more originals today, Social Media and increased access to surgery and fillers have made many of us look exactly the same. I think there is something striking about someone when you can’t recall seeing 29 other versions of that person.

IF: What is being a woman in 2020?

To be a woman in 2020 is to play big. To fully own and the space we’ve been denied for generations. It also means once you have fully occupied your space that you reach back to help more women to play even bigger than you could have imagined. 

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