As an African-American girl growing up, I soon came to realise that dealing with my hair would never be easy.
When I was much younger, my mum could hardly comb through my hair because it was so nappy. Braiding it seemed to be the only solution. But they weren’t the thin, evenly-dispersed, beautiful braids celebrities like Beyonce and Brandy have worn in the past. Mine were thick and lumpy in weird places. All of my hair was essentially clumped into a couple of oversized braids at any given time.
Once 3rd grade hit, I got my first relaxer to straighten my curly hair. My nappy hair suddenly became long, shiny, and beautiful. But that was relatively short-lived, as my hair started breaking off and getting shorter and shorter every day. So it was back to the chunky braids for a little while. But before entering middle school and a new stage in my life, I got another relaxer in the hopes of fitting in.
“If your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed,” comedian Paul Mooney famously said in fellow comedian Chris Rock’s “Good Hair” documentary. “If your hair is nappy, white people are not happy.”
Next thing I knew, I was sitting in a beauty shop getting my first weave. I probably paid about $80 for the pack of hair and over $100 to actually get it put in.
It looked pretty good, in my opinion, but people would still make jokes about my hair being “unbeweavable.” In hindsight, my weave was a bit unbelievable because as my hair would grow out, it became obvious that half of the hair on my head wasn’t actually mine.
During my senior year in high school, I decided to get individual micro braid extensions.
The first time I ever got them done, it literally took 14 hours. Those were some of the worst hours of my life. I was sitting in a hot, tiny room next to the basement in some woman’s house in South San Francisco, without food and water for essentially 14 hours. My hairdresser also had young children and newborn baby, so those hours were filled with kids screaming and babies crying.
The hair itself would cost me ~$300 and that particular hairdresser charged $400 for micro braids.
So 14 hours of braiding + $300 for the hair + $400 to pay the hairdresser = Hell.
Even though I eventually found someone else who could braid my hair faster, and didn’t charge as much, that hairstyle was still costly to maintain.
So it was time to go natural. By that point, my hair was healthy again, having been protected underneath the braids for a few years.
For the last three years, I’ve worn my hair natural and it’s felt liberating. Finally, I’m free from wasting away inside salons. But at the same time, I still hear comments of, “Girl, you need to touch up your sides!” and, “Damn! It looks like you’ve been electrocuted!”
Needless to say, those comments and criticisms recently got me thinking about putting extensions back in my hair. I cherish variety and unique styles, but I wondered if I would feel more accepted in society if I looked at least a little bit more like everyone else. I haven’t yet reached a conclusion. But those comments have still led to questions of which style would look better, where I should go to get it done (since I recently moved from California to New York), and what kind of products I would need if I do decide to go through with it.
So when I heard about this new startup called Techturized, it immediately piqued my interest.
Techturized’s first product, MadameYou, functions as an online community for African-American women to share their hair experiences, and give advice to each other regarding how to tackle hair issues.
At the same time, MadameYou provides personalised feedback and recommendations about optimal hairstyles and hair products for you, which you can buy directly from the site. It ultimately aims to take the guessing game out of black hair care, and change the way black women interact with and manage their hair.
African-American women spend nine times more on hair and beauty products than any other group, according to a 2012 Nielsen report on African-American consumers. In 2009, comedian Chris Rock revealed in his documentary “Good Hair” that black hair care is a $9 billion market.
“Still, African-Americans are underserved,” Techturized co-founder Jess Watson tells Business Insider. “A lot of people are dissatisfied.”
MadameYou will start rolling out invitations at the end of June. Already, Techturized has raised $25,215 through a successful IndieGogo campaign. It also went through the Flashpoint Startup Accelerator in Georgia, and received a $35,000 investment.
Check out the promotional video for MadameYou below.
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