Still Growing, Still Iterating: WTF is Curls Courtesy Of...

Everyday for the last 2 years the question “When is this thing gonna take off?” burns in my mind. And by ‘this thing,’ I mean Curls Courtesy Of. If you don’t know, CCO is this brand.

Initially, I set out to create a quarterly subscription box for curls, but with an emphasis on independently-owned beauty/hair brands. Motivated by my own transition, I set out to create what I wished was available for purchase. Though there are several options like Curl Box, Curl Mix, or the My Curls Understood box, I felt (and still do) there was a void in the market; all of these sub box companies work with brands that are readily available at most local drug stores, and I was trying to take a less mainstream approach to compiling my curl product cabinet. Mostly because mass production equals gunk, preservatives, and old white male investors.

With that in mind, I set out to curate (yes, curate) brands for curls that were not only produced in small batches with clean ingredients, but were being produced by mostly Black women. I have a spreadsheet with over 100 brands that you will NOT find in stores; this is fantastic in terms of proliferating wealth and entrepreneurship in the Black community. The issue is, none of that can happen if these emerging entrepreneurs and their products lack visibility because they don’t have the resources to cut deals with Target or Walgreens. Unfortunately, many of them get lost in social media algorithms and fail to get the attention they deserve. Basically, I wanted to create a service that would help these Black fempreneurs gain exposure, while helping other naturals discover quality products they might never find.

I was overly ambitious and undertook the birthing of a brand during my final year in law school. I thought it would all work out so smoothly. It was October and my plan was as follows: start instagram page, grow an audience by posting frequently, purchase branding package, throw a website together, reach out to suppliers, sell boxes, show a different side of the natural community, and make a living via one of my passions. I even went to an event in NYC to promote my business, even though I really didn’t have anything to show. HA!

Time revealed just how misguided my ambition was. I was so frustrated with still being a student, not having enough money...blah, blah, blah. While my inner product junkie is still obsessed with my subscription box idea, I thought long and hard about the realities of a subscription box startup and the many resources I couldn’t easily access to execute my idea at the sophistication level I imagined it operating at. I’m not one of those, just-put-it-out-and-we’ll-tweak-as-we-go types. I recognize that many situations require that attitude, but I firmly believe that when it comes to the beauty/wellness e-commerce industry, branding and presentation are paramount so I knew that my presentation had to be on point. And I speak confidently because as a rabid e-commerce fanatic I know it only takes seconds to lose interest based on poor branding and presentation. You know, millennial tings.

So all of that brought me to this question: what can I create for Black women that will require less resources, allow me to reach a greater audience, and still provide a product/service that touches on introducing naturals to new brands while promoting a more critical approach to beauty? My answer: an app! For now, just know that it will obviously be Afro-beauty-centric and I hope to have a prototype by December. In the meantime I'll be sharing the ups and downs on my path to becoming a Beauty Techpreneur.

Jannet MatthewComment