Courtesy of NewFade
As men age, one of the things that concerns us is the looming potential for hair loss. Male pattern baldness, as it is scientifically named, can have a significant impact on personal confidence and many of the solutions in the market are simply out of reach for the average consumer; often costing thousands of pounds up front, along with on-going fees and a host of side effects. A solution which has historically been less popular is to use a hair replacement piece, rather than opting for cosmetic or pharmaceutical solutions (some of which have been proven to be largely ineffective). Thus, Joel Akwenuke’s story of attempting to tackle problem via his business venture NewFade piqued my interest. Along with two long-time friends, Newfade presents a unique hair replacement solution for men with Afro hair, a group of consumers who are largely undeserved by the existing options on the market.
Akwenuke’s journey to establishing NewFade was born from his own experience, when he started noticing hair loss as a teenager. At the age of 17, Akwenuke was an active and intelligent student who excelled in athletics, winning at numerous national championships. He was, however, encouraged by his parents to pursue medicine and study to become a doctor. With regular athletic training, exams and completing rigorous university applications, a heightening of his stress levels resulted in the corners of his hairline beginning to recede. To make matters worse, he was unsuccessful in his first attempt to attend medical school, recalling: “when I went to my interview I was too stressed to even speak.” Determined, Akwenuke took a gap year and, on his second attempt, was successfully accepted into Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia. However, the mounting pressures of medical studies took their toll and, by his third year, he had lost all of his hair; his confidence greatly impacted.
As a trainee doctor who, naturally, believed in the powers of medicine, Akwenuke first sought a pharmaceutical solution. Soon after taking some medication which claimed to regenerate hair growth, he experienced several negative side effects listed in the small print. Frustrated, he reviewed another option and visited a clinic which specializes in male hair transplants. However, after meeting with the technicians, it became clear that they did not cater for Afro-textured hair, and the treatments started from £5,000—far above his budget at the time.
Discovering The Man Unit
Akwenuke began conducting further research and came across hair units for men (or “man-weaves,” as they are colloquially known), a cheaper alternative to hair transplants that had been gaining popularity in the U.S., but were largely unavailable in Europe. After further investigation, he realised that many of these units were actually imported from China and, with experience running a dropshipping business whilst at school, he was well versed in acquiring stock from supplier platforms in Asia. He ordered a number of units and then attempted an install himself. Surprisingly, he was extremely happy with the results.
Akwenuke opened up about his issue to his friendship circle, and the conversations served as confirmation that hair loss amongst young men was as common an issue as the scientific studies had suggested, and many of his peers were open to trying something new to tackle the problem. He wanted to validate whether it was a viable business opportunity, and shared his business idea to his close friends and wider network. The reception was reassuringly positive so, in March of this year, he launched NewFade, a studio offering the installation of man-weaves in London. Pictures and videos of transformations of customers using NewFade suddenly went viral across social media platforms. Akwenuke soon needed extra support, thus brought on two of his close friends, Moses and Cyril, whom he had met at medical school.
Whilst the man-units provided by NewFade require routine maintenance, they are one of the most affordable options on the market, at roughly £100 every four weeks, depending on the package selected. NewFade also offer a subscription service which includes round-the-clock upkeep, thus allowing for the routine maintenance to integrate seamlessly the customers’ lifestyles. Additionally, unlike many of the pharmaceutical solution on the market today, there are no adverse side effects, which Akwenuke strongly supports, given his own negative experiences in the past.
The NewFade team currently operate from a studio in Bermondsey, London, and are keeping busy with more bookings than they have the ability to cater for, with a growing waiting list of keen customers. The team have plans to open additional clinics across the country and take much pride in their belief that they have successfully built a solution that empowers men to claim their confidence back. To see their latest products you can visit the NewFade website here .
This article is part of a series featuring diverse people making a difference. You can find more articles here and if you have a story to tell or want to be updated as soon as new features are released message/follow me on Twitter @TommyASC91