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Stylist, survivor... success!

Shandi Nichelle is taking her childhood trauma and using it to inspire other women to feel positive for the future

Freewell founder Shandi Nichelle has created powerful, clean personal care products to free customers from time consuming self-care routines, toxic ingredients - and to donate to organizations that supports the recovery, rehabilitation, and resilience of survivors of human trafficking.

How did you come up with Power Gloss?


It started four years ago. I was seeing twelve clients a day in a salon in downtown Austin. I was making a ton of money but had no life. At that time, I had a client whose hair was thinning and I suggested she try castor oil because my esthetician had suggested it for my eyebrows. I thought if it could make eyebrows grow, it could help hair.

So you got inventive...

I put it in a bottle with a tip like we use for hair dye to help her apply it to her roots. She came back eight weeks later and her hair was so much thicker! I realized castor oil was thick and sticky and thought it would be better mixed with jojoba oil. At the time, I was training for a triathlon. I thought, “What if I put it on my hair before I get in the water, while my hair is dirty, and just wear it under my cap?” I did and my cap didn’t slip off, my hair was conditioned while I exercised and my hair grew increasingly healthier as I trained! After that, I started to research other clean ingredients and played with formulas for a year to get it just right and Power Gloss came to be! 


But this coincided with my darkest moment. I was struggling with my purpose, and repressed trauma from my childhood was coming to the surface. Then COVID hit and I got real still. I watched a documentary on human trafficking and I saw myself in the survivors.

How had you been managing your childhood trauma before then?

I held in my anger for years. My Mom was a survivor of assault, too, and she told me I had to move on because that’s what she had to do. She buried it. I tried to. But it was killing me. I was like, “This stops with me.” Now, my mom and I come together as survivors and support one another. It’s been a big healing journey for us; one that took many years. 

How did you heal?

I went to therapy. I did EMDR which is a specific type of therapy to address trauma and PTSD. I started volunteering with sexual assault and human trafficking survivors and doing their hair. The minute I sat down with them we had a bond. I was trying to help them believe in themselves, find confidence and feel beautiful, but I was really saying it to myself. I had to go through some hard work to get to the other side but it was all worth it. The best part now is I get to help others still struggling, and now combining that with my business is a dream come true. 

How does Power Gloss support survivors?


We donate to a different organization every quarter. We donate money and we also try to volunteer in some capacity with each organization, we have really enjoyed volunteering in different ways. One of my favorites was teaching business classes to survivors in Chicago.

How do you find gratitude in the dark times?

My empathy for other survivors makes finding gratitude in dark times much easier. I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge, and the freedom to choose the kind of life I want. I thank God for those privileges every day. When I am feeling down, I turn "woe is me" into "What am I doing with this amazing opportunity?" The greater our understanding of and compassion for others, the easier it is to access our gratitude. 

What are you thankful for today?

I am thankful to live the rest of my life free from the bondage of assault, for family and friends who have loved me and supported me through it all, and for the opportunity to empower other survivors. That is priceless.

  • Overcoming adversity, Shandi knows too well how hard it can be
  • Proceeds from the sale of Power Gloss to towards helping others
  • Better times ahead