ALL MEDICAL AND HEALTH JOBS AND CARRER ENTERTAINMENT business education UNIVERSAL SPORTS RELIGION
< Natural hair care guidance to women with Afro-textured hair>
July 30, 2020 • jainendra joshi • MEDICAL AND HEALTH

 

 

When Lauren Brown was 17 years old, she cut off nearly all of her hair during a visit with her

grandmother in New York City. Like many women with naturally Afro-textured hair, she had been using

chemical relaxers for years.

rising junior at Brown University. “Chemically relaxed hair is neither better or worse that natural hair, but

there was this sense that the way Black hair naturally grows out of your head was not good enough for

the rest of the world.”

But with this freedom came an unexpected responsibility: “It was the first time in my teens that I’d really

been able to see my naturally curly hair,” she said. “I had no idea how to take care of it.” For Brown, this

moment marked the beginning of what she calls her “personal hair journey,” a two-and-a-half-year

process of trial and error during which she spent hundreds of dollars — and countless hours — sampling

the glut of natural hair care products that had begun to flood the market in the late 2000s. “There were so

many products out there and so many influencers and so many YouTube tutorials that it was completely

overwhelming,” she said. “I had no idea how to parse through that information and actually find what

might work for me.”

To simplify this process for other women with Afro-textured hair, Brown is launching Figured, a venture

that will provide users with personalized recommendations and samples of natural hair care products —

all produced by Black-owned businesses — that are selected to suit their hair type and lifestyle.

“Figured’s goal is to serve as a helping hand,” Brown said. “We want to boil down what products might

actually work best for the type of hair you have and design a hair care routine that will fit seamlessly into

your everyday lifestyle.”

This summer, as a participant in Breakthrough Lab (B-Lab for short) — an eight-week accelerator

program at the University’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship — Brown has completed the planning

stages for Figured, which has involved interviewing over 50 Black women about their experiences

learning how to care for their naturally textured hair. For Brown, the interviews have illuminated the

common threads that connect the hair journeys of many Black women.

“Every woman I talked to brought up this period of time where they were consistently trying different

products, spending a lot of money and getting really stressed out,” Brown said. “On average, they said it

was about two years before they were able to find products that worked for them and that made them feel

confident about how they took care of their hair.

” B-Lab has really helped me take ownership of my idea and build structure around it by encouraging me

to talk to other people about their experiences. I’ll have customers someday, and I need to find out what

those customers are struggling with and what makes them happy so that I can figure out what might work

best for them. LAUREN BROWN Founder of Figured, Class of 2022 Lauren Brown The interviews also

revealed the distinct twists and turns that made each woman’s experience unique.

“It was about taking them back to those moments on their journeys, from their first hair memories all the

way up to where we are today,” Brown said. “Life is changing all the time, and your hair changes with it. I

wanted to understand how people were adapting their hair styles and routines to match those changes.”

 

As B-Lab comes to a close with the end of the summer, Brown is using these findings to design a digital

platform for Figured that invites each user to share details about their hair type and lifestyle. These

details will determine which natural hair care samples and recommendations that Figured will provide to

each user. This process will allow each woman to focus on the personal significance of their journey while

minimizing the unnecessary hassles associated with it.

“In my interviews, it’s often appeared that the trial and error phase of these journeys is a rite of passage,

and I think that can still exist,” Brown said. “But there’s no reason that that rite of passage should require

two whole years of money spent, time spent and energy spent.

Figured can reduce that into a much shorter period of time so that you can get back to doing the things

you love.” For Brown, being a member of this summer’s B-Lab cohort — which features 15 student

ventures ranging from an app that maps safe cycling routes to a grocery shopping bag customized for

wheelchair users to a web platform that streamlines support resources for abuse survivors — has

provided her with the mentorship and resources necessary to begin making Figured a reality. “B-Lab has

really helped me take ownership of my idea and build structure around it by encouraging me to talk to

other people about their experiences,”

Brown said, “I’ll have customers someday, and I need to find out what those customers are struggling

with and what makes them happy so that I can figure out what might work best for them.” The research

Brown has conducted as a member of this summer’s B-Lab cohort has reinforced for her the most salient

lessons of her Brown education thus far. “Asking questions about other people’s experiences — being

curious and being flexible — is a practice that Brown has taught me more than anything else,” said

Brown, who is a business, entrepreneurship and organizations concentrator. “And I’ve been able to fold in

so much of the knowledge I’ve learned in sciences classes, economics classes, entrepreneurship classes.”