BoF’s Sheena Butler-Young and Tamison O’Connor join Lauren Sherman to discuss how a new generation of entrepreneurs are driving growth in this underdeveloped category.
Monique Rodriguez turned a series of Instagram tutorials — where she made hair care concoctions out of ingredients found in her kitchen — into one of the most recognisable multicultural hair care brands in the US, Mielle Organics. The label just secured a reported $100 million non-controlling investment from Berkshire Partners that will help Rodriguez, who is now one of fewer than 100 Black women founders to have secured at least $1 million in funding, scale her business independently.
Products for natural hair is a billion-dollar plus business in the US, and getting more attention from investors as they start to recognise its enormous untapped potential and historical neglect. At the same time, founders are re-thinking how products are made, marketed and distributed to consumers.
“The next class of Black hair care founders want to flip the narrative arc: this isn't a segment, this is the market,” said BoF correspondent Sheena Butler-Young. ”I think that's where we're headed. That's the goal of these kinds of brands.”
The textured hair category remained relatively stagnant even as beauty saw a wider branding evolution with the rise of brands like Glossier that changed attitudes in beauty about the way brands can look and market themselves. Now, that’s changing.
Rodriguez does a lot of education on entrepreneurship — specifically, highlighting that selling a brand isn’t “selling out,” though some shoppers may see it that way. Getting acquired can lead to better access to retailers and distribution deals, as well as better prices and product availability for consumers.
For a long time, fashion and beauty has neglected to direct proper attention and resources to catering to and courting the Black consumer. That’s shifting as it has become clear to investors and brands they are leaving money on the table.