Entrepreneurs Marc Belle, Dominique Lescott and Kadian Pow share a common goal: providing environmentally-friendly hair products designed for afro and curly hair. Here, we talk to each founder and highlight six factors that have supported their success. They all use Starling to manage their finances, saving them time and money that they can then channel into their businesses.
1. Curiosity: Researching, testing, giving
All three founders started their enterprises after their hair or skin was damaged or irritated by harsh products, often designed for people with straight hair. “A few years back, someone gave me some beard oil. It didn’t really work and it made my skin itchy,” says Marc, 39, founder of Mr Blackman’s. “I had a look around and found that no one made products for Black or mixed-race beards in the UK.”
In 2016, he started making his own beard oil. “I tried to make something light, quick to absorb, not greasy but strong enough to penetrate coarse hair. I wanted it to smell like this citrus, woody shower gel I had. In the end, it didn’t smell anything like it but it smelled good - citrusy and oaky like the rum barrels I remembered from Barbados.” Marc was born in the UK, grew up in Barbados and moved back to the UK in 2003.
Kadian’s company Bourn Beautiful Naturals (BBN) has a similar story. “I moved to the UK from Washington DC in 2010. At first, I stocked up on products from the US every time I went home, hoping they’d last me until my next trip. In 2014, I watched a YouTube video on how to make your own conditioner. As a hobby, I started making things and discovered that the process was really therapeutic.”
Kadian says: “It gave me a sense of accomplishment, solving ailments with my hair and skin myself. After a year, I felt confident enough to give some things to family and friends - they were the ones who told me to start selling the products.” BBN launched in 2017.