Last year, Gal-Dem wrote a beautiful article titled "Why we need ethical black-owned brands in the hair extensions industry".
This article highlighted the inherent need for more seed investment funding towards black owned brands, in particular Black owned ethical brands. Considering that in the United States alone, African-Americans buying power has increased from $961 billion in 2010 to an estimated $1.3 trillion in 2018, it seems reasonable to expect more start-up investment funding to support Black owned ethical brands in launching their businesses or expanding their brands.
Like many small business, unfortunately, I didn't have angel investors to support my desire to launch an ethical hair extension business. It was thanks to the love and support of my family that I was able to invest in launching an ethical hair extension brand that supports a new narrative within the hair extension industry.
My focus has always been to provide an ethically-sourced product for Black women like myself. Black women that have become socially-aware of the unethical practices within the hair extensions industry, Black women whom are blooming and evolving into magical beings and Black women that are searching to support ethical brands that celebrate Black people.
Representation matters in an industry where Black women purchase 90% of ethnic hair and beauty products (amounting to $2.5 billion, which doesn't include wigs or hair accessories), but only owns a small percentage of the market.
Last week, Heyy Friend wrote a beautiful article reviewing our hair extensions after trialling our product titled "Finally! A Black Owned Ethical Hair Company!", stating
"If you have been with me for a while, then you know that I vowed to give up weave. I had many reasons why. If you would like to see all of my various reasons please read my previous blog “Why I Won’t Be Wearing Weaves For A While.”
Long story short, it all started when I found out that women across the world were being exploited, physically harmed, and not compensated for the collection of their that is being sold. I thought to myself that can’t be good for a person’s spirit. You pray, meditate and overall try to have the most positive energy around you…yet on the very top your head is exploitation. It didn’t make sense to me.
After much searching I found Ayune Hair by Valerie Ogoke. I loved everything about it. When I say everything I mean everything. I loved her intentionality and purposeful spirit. I loved that she cared about and spoke on behalf of women who didn’t have the platform to do it for themselves. I loved that she wore and modelled her own product."
Connecting with my soul sister and reading her article truly warmed my heart. In an industry saturated with fast money, fast consumption, and a complete lack of regard towards the wellbeing of others, I've stood true to my belief that ethical hair extensions must be a 'new normal'. I also wanted to show Black women that there is a space for them, where they can feel seen and celebrated.
I may not have a $2 billion seed investment, a Forbes magazine feature or celebrities choosing to wear ethical Ayune hair extensions (just yet, but I'm affirming it will happen), but what I do have is a sisterhood of magical Black women that have supported my brand since we created this space.
For that I am eternally grateful.