Rachael Twumasi-Corson and Joycelyn Mate started Afrocenchix in 2011 to help with their alopecia, but the two Black women ended up with much more.
In their search to deal with their hair issues, the pair found many of the haircare products available for Black women contained artificial and toxic chemicals. Twumasi-Corson and Mate built Afrocenchix from the ground up, establishing themselves with their small customer base with products including its sulfate-free shampoo and a silicone-free conditioner.
In June, after a decade of hard work, Afrocenchix raised $1.2 million in funding through Google’s Black Founders Fund. Additionally, Afrocenchix is the first Black-owned haircare company to have its products sold in Whole Foods UK.
The road to success wasn’t a smooth one for the two women. Early in their fundraising, Twumasi-Corson and Mate’s beauty knowledge was criticized, their experiences were belittled, and investors didn’t believe the Black haircare industry was worth getting involved in.
“We had someone ask, ‘Why are you talking about Africa?’ and make jokes about Africans being poor,” Twumasi-Corson told Business Insider. “It was a very strange experience.
Today, Afrocenchix haircare products are sold in 27 different countries, including the U.S., and 70% of its sales are through word of mouth. In addition to shampoo and conditioner, Afrocenchix has moisturizing creams, scalp oils and products to deal with dry hair and other hair problems. The website also features an introductory quiz to help customers find the right products for what they want to do with their hair.
The Black haircare industry has skyrocketed in recent years as Black men and women have taken matters into their own hands, creating a bevy of natural haircare products to sell to their own people. According to a CNBC report, the Black haircare industry is valued at more than $2.5 billion and that doesn’t include hair accessories, wigs or electric styling products. The true value is much higher.
Afrocenchix isn’t the only Black-owned company profiting in the black haircare industry. Dave Salvant and Songe LaRon created Squire, an application on both Android and Apple for barbershop owners and customers to easily make and manage barber appointments as well as pay for them on or offline.
Squire just announced a Series D funding haul of $60 million, bringing the total valuation of the company to $750 million.
Check out pages from their pitch deck.