Public eye: Erma Williams-Nurse, 29
New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.
Wed Dec 26 2012
Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein
Court St at Douglass St, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
You don’t meet many Ermas under 70 these days. I know! It’s not very modern or chic. I personally have never met another Erma.
Never? Well, except I got the name because my mother’s name is Shirley, and she has a sister named Erma, who named her daughter Shirley. So when my mother had me she felt she should return the favor. Erma is very country—my mother is from North Carolina.
What do you do? I run the Pomade Shop, an all-natural hair line. My husband and I have had it for about a year. We make them together. Pomade is my favorite kind of styling product, but I couldn’t find anyone doing it all-natural, so I decided to make it.
And your husband is into it too? He is. At first he didn’t care about natural products much, but lately he’s been searching for natural ingredients and cleaning mirrors with apple-cider vinegar and stuff.
How’s his hair? Oh, he doesn’t like it. He shaves it.
A hair-product mogul with no hair. [Laughs] I know.
So what all-natural wonders are in your product? Well, we have different kinds: growth pomades, which have emu oil—
Did you say emu? Yes, the bird. Like, you know Big Bird from Sesame Street, the Australian emu?
I do. Emu oil is good because it regenerates scalp cells and it’s anti-inflammatory.
First a familial pawn and now the savior of bald men. [Laughs] I guess it could help bald guys. Boston University Medical School did a study about it—it was shown to grow mouse hair and make it thicker and regenerate scalp cells in humans. The thing is, it’s really expensive. Our one bottle costs $409.
What did you do before a year ago? I was an editorial assistant at the Foundation Center in Manhattan, where you can go if you’re looking for grants: educational grants, business grants.… They have these big grant books the size of phone books.
Pomade-making grants? [Laughs] No, I wish.
More from Erma
“I’m a grammar fanatic, but I don’t correct other people’s bad grammar.”