In the beauty sector, hair extensions represent a multi-billion dollar industry that many consumers are not aware of. In recent years we have seen celebrities such as Kim Kardashian increase the awareness around these products. However, for decades the majority of sales have come from the black community. Currently, it’s estimated that the average black consumer spends 13x more on hair extensions and 6x more on hair care products than their counterparts.
Despite this, there are very few multinational organizations that have innovated in the space, with Mayvenn being one of the exceptions. In addition to the sheer size of the market, trends continue to evolve as more black consumers seek hair extensions that match their natural curly hair texture. One entrepreneur building a multinational business that aims to cater to this new trend in the market is Tendai Moyo, founder of Ruka Hair.
A Frustrating Hair Journey
Tendai has used hair extensions for several years. However, after studying for a degree at London School of Economics and working as a strategy consultant at Bain & Co, she decided to transition from relaxed, chemically straightened hair to natural hair “wanting styles that added length and volume but looked like her own hair” she says. Despite being willing to spend a reasonable amount of money, she found the shopping experience to be frustrating and time-consuming as “curly hair extensions were lumped into categories which led to a lot of trial and error and wasted money”.
This frustration motivated her to start looking for a solution. After realizing how widespread the problem was, she decided to start Ruka Hair, a premium, direct-to-consumer hair extension brand bringing choice and accuracy to high-quality hair extensions through curated discovery and a personalized shopping experience.
The RUKA Solution
Ruka Hair aims to depart from broad categories such as ‘coily’ or ‘kinky’ and sell a variety of hair extensions that mimic real curl patterns. The process they have developed to find your perfect match includes a personalized questionnaire, utilizing customer data, and using a steam-technique for curling the hair which “is more effective than chemicals normally associated with hair extensions” Moyo aims for Ruka to be the most ethical brand bringing accountability to an industry that has lived on the fringes for too long.
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The company is already backed by several angel investors which include Ian Hogarth (founder of Songkick), Tom Adeyoola (founder of MeTail), and Nicole Crentsil (founder of Black Girl Fest & Angel investor for Ada Ventures) who mentions “Black hair is dominated by people who simply don’t understand Black women, which makes RUKA so necessary. Digitally backed and scientifically informed RUKA completely deconstructs the entire shopping experience – a true disruptor in the industry. As an advocate of backing Black women founders, the business is at its core for us, by us.”
The team has spent the last few months doing research and are planning to launch this week. Ahead of their launch, they have created a virtual launch experience in collaboration with UNBXD: “CURLS & COILS: THE EXPERIENCE” which opens today and you can sign up to their waitlist here.
This article is part of a series featuring underrepresented people making a difference. You can keep up to date with new releases or contact me on Twitter – @TommyASC91.