Using AI And Machine Learning To Solve Issues Faced By Women With Textured Hair
Less than 1% of investment went to teams of Black entrepreneurs, according to the Extend Ventures report which also noted that across the 10-year period “a total of 10 female entrepreneurs of Black appearance received venture capital investment (0.02% of the total amount invested)… with none so far receiving late-stage funding”.
Despite these odds, young Black women founders in the UK are helming businesses and driving innovation in areas as diverse as beauty, e-comm, and real estate, and total a total of 16 Black women have raised funding.
Both inside and outside of the UK – Black women have been killing it in hair tech.
One such example is Kinky Apothecary, a startup using AI and machine learning to solve issues faced by women with textured hair – particularly black women who spend 6 times as much as their non-black counterparts on hair products.
Spotting a very obvious gap in the market and bolstered by the resolve to disrupt eurocentric standards of beauty, the first iteration of Kinky Apothecary was born in 2010.
After 10 years of getting to know and building her community through events, collaborations, and sharing advice on the blog, Nibi Lawson restructured in 2020 to provide a more targeted solution to our overwhelmed customers and struggling to sift through the flood of product choices and hair advice.
Her startup reportedly simplifies the natural hair journey by using data-driven solutions to cut through the ever-increasing product options targeted at black women.
It creates personalized recommendations tailored to the consumer’s specific hair properties and lifestyle.
When you go on the website it asks you several questions including: ‘How long does it take your hair to dry on wash day’, ‘run your fingers upwards from tip to root on a strand of hair. How does it feel?’ and how long is the bulk of your hair when straightened or pulled taut?
You’ll get your results once you finished the questionnaire. The results will be sent via email.
There are dozens of other hair tech products run by Black women catered for Black women
Varaidzo Tendai Moyo
One entrepreneur building a multinational business that aims to cater to this new trend in the market is Varaidzo Tendai Moyo, founder of Ruka Hair.
Ruka Hair is a D2C hair extension brand that offers personalized hair products for Black women, and its manufacturing process is chemical-free.
The company has the backing of angel investors, including Ian Hogarth, founder of Songkick, Tom Adeyoola, founder of MeTail and cofounder of Extend Ventures, and Nicole Crentsil, founder of Black Girl Fest. In May 2021, Ruka Hair secured $1.6m in early-stage VC funding.
Cathline is the brains behind Ma Coiffeuse Afro — an app that helps people with African heritage (who represent 20% of the French population, yet don’t have access to 99% of hairdressers) find and book an appropriate hairdresser at home easily.
She’s also the founder of In Haircare, a line of hair products that are plant-based and made in France with natural active ingredients.
Cathline previously raised a €350k seed round for Ma Coiffeuse Afro from US investors CRE.VC and French business angel Denis Fayolle. And she’s just closed a Series A round led by Marie Claire Ventures and Obratori.