Tell us the Curl Sistas Hair story: what was the inspiration to create a line of natural textured human hair extensions?
Joy: My first love before I got into the fashion industry (as a style blogger of JoyLovesFashion.com and a wardrobe stylist) was hair! I did everything from sew-in weaves to braids. I love the ability hair has to transform a person's look and mood. Obi and I launched CurlSistas.com as a natural hair-meets-fashion media site last year (April 2014) and it was very popular with our followers. Our Instagram account @curlsistas grew quickly as a result of our daily natural hair/fashion inspiration. We decided a natural textured hair line would be a great product to serve our customers and at the same time utilize my background in hair. I've also been natural for 5 years so I really related to what our customer was looking for, because we were the same! When I first went natural, I big chopped since my relaxed hair was damaged with lots of breakage. I'd never had short hair in my life so that was a big change. Back then I tried to find hair extensions that would match my thick 4C texture (so I could do protective styles) and came up empty handed. This is why I am most proud of Curl Sistas Hair. We are giving women options that are true to who they are. Now women with natural hair can wear protective styles that match their own textures. No need to straighten your leave-out!
Tell us about the varying types of hair that you offer.
Adaeze Kinky Curl Clip-ins
Joy: For Curl Sistas Hair, Obi and I knew we wanted 3 textures that were the most prevalent in natural hair. We also knew we wanted to offer a variation: clip-ins (which have been our biggest seller), wefts and lace closures. The names for the various hair textures were inspired by our Nigerian heritage: Chi-Chi Curl (3a-3b curl pattern), Chima Curl (3c-4a curl pattern) and the Adaeze Kinky Curl (4b-4c curl type); my sister's middle name is Chi-Chi, my great grandmother's last name was Chima and my middle name is Adaeze.
To make the decision process easier, we also offer small sample sizes of each Curl Sistas Hair so that customers can get a feel of the hair before purchasing. We're happy to say we are one of the very few hair brands that offer samples.
What were the 5 most important steps you took when launching your brand to your target audience?
Obi: The design and creation process for Curl Sistas Hair lasted about four and a half months. We didn’t waste any time after we initially came up with the idea. We immediately began researching the natural hair extension market and the feasibility of us launching a successful hair line. Although four and a half months is a relatively quick turnaround time, we spent countless late nights surveying potential customers, designing and testing our product, building new supplier relationships, developing our go to market strategy, and creatively solving all of the random problems that came up along the way. It was hectic and fun bringing our idea to life. We do all of our packaging in-house: everything from printing brochures to the product boxes.
Joy, how did your background in the fashion industry help you to transition into the role of business owner in the natural hair care industry?
Joy: My background in the fashion industry--interning at WWD, working at ESSENCE, wardrobe styling for InStyle, Cover Girl, and TV outlets (including The Today Show and Good Morning America)—and launching my style blog joylovesfashion.com in 2009, were both a great help to me when I launched Curl Sistas Hair with my husband, Obi. Since I had already made many connections in the fashion and beauty world, I had more opportunities to spread the word on Curl Sistas Hair. Working in fashion also builds determination, resilience and passion--all key qualities that I've brought into Curl Sistas Hair. We are in our 7th month and just moved into a new office in midtown Manhattan. We've recently hired some key employees to help us with the growing demand. It's been a blessing and Obi and I are so excited. We love what we do. The best is yet to come!
Curl Sistas Hair Co-founders Joy Adaeze and Obi Okere
What additional resources for natural hair does Curl Sistas Hair provide for its audience and customer base?
Joy: Most of all, what distinguishes us from other extension brands is that Obi and I recently wrote a book about natural hair called The Curl Sistas Guide to DIY Natural Hair Products. It's an awesome book full of easy to make all-natural shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers and more using ingredients found in your kitchen! With our book we are able to further serve our customers by giving them options to maintain and care for their real hair. There are also recipes, like our Curl Sistas Hair Nourishing Oil, that are really moisturizing for Curl Sistas Hair. We began writing the book around the same time we started working on the hair line. All of our recipes are custom created by Obi and I, and I've personally tested each one. My hair has never felt better! It's moisturized, soft and the shedding has been dramatically reduced. Our book comes in e-book form for just $5.99. Plus, it's free with a purchase of Curl Sistas Hair wefts or clip-ins!
For more info about the Curl Sistas Hair line of hair extensions, head to their website, and follow their social media accounts: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube.