When Heather Cummings abandoned hair permanents in favor of natural hair ten years ago, she quickly became frustrated with the cost of hair care products and the uncertainty of the techniques that enhance the natural look.
So she created a subscription service in March 2012 to allow women who want to skip expensive visits to professional stylists to cruise the Internet in search of the right combination of techniques and hair care products and receive them through the mail or express package delivery services.
A year later, she is convinced her idea resonates with consumers as the Curl Kit service is apparently thriving.
Each month Curl Kit sends to subscribers seven to nine samples of products handpicked by the company’s team of dermatologists, chemists and other hair care experts who try the products on their own hair. The products range from well-known brands to new products that Cummings encounters at events like the recent Baltimore Natural Hair Care Expo.
“It’s important that you listen to your customers and you give them what they want,” said Cummings. “You should not give [a product] to them if you know it is not going to help their hair journey.”
“My decision came about 10 years ago when I was in college and couldn’t afford to go to the hairdressers. I found that my hair was breaking off from me trying to do it myself,” said Cummings who then decided to stop perming her hair. “It was a hard journey and not knowing or having the products available to manage my hair made it harder.”
Instead of buying hair care products that typically cost $20 a jar, Curl Kit subscribers pay $20 a month in the U.S. and a bit more for subscribers outside the U.S. to cover higher shipping costs. Shortly after the business got underway with ads on the Internet, she began receiving kit requests from women in the Caribbean who said they have limited access to hair care products sold in the continental U.S.
“The problem for naturals [wearers] is universal and especially in the Caribbean. It’s harder for them because they don’t have easier access to some of the products we have here,” said Cummings.
She soon began offering kits in Trinidad, Jamaica and Hawaii. Soon, she was getting request from women in military bases across the globe. Today, she ships to more than 150 countries worldwide, she told the AFRO recently.
“We get cancellations, but not a lot. Most of the time it’s because they get enough products or they have found their regimen and if they get to that point they still get our email blasts,” Cummings said.
On Tuesday nights, Curl Kit hosts a Twitter chat at #CurlTalk engaging subscribers all over the world to talk about their favorite products, their regimen and the struggles of natural hair. Curl Kit also posts product reviews online and has its own mini magazine, which Cummings said she hopes to grow into a bigger publication in year two.