Whereas on a household journey to Kenya in 2014, Grace Eleyae’s mother suggested her to put on a shawl over her head to protect her hair from the arid local weather.
“However I used to be like, ‘I’m on trip,’” Eleyae remembers. “‘I wish to look cute.’” Ignoring her mother’s recommendation, Eleyae launched into an eight-hour automotive experience from Nairobi to the coast. The dry air mixed with the friction of the headrest and Eleyae’s (unprotected) hair, which was each chemically and heat-straightened on the time, left a two-inch-wide gap of breakage on the again of her head.
“It was devastating,” Eleyae says. “Nevertheless it began the wheels turning [to find] one thing that’s cute sufficient however protecting of my hair.” Later that 12 months, Eleyae began her firm, Grace Eleyae, creating fashionable headgear lined with silk and satin. In contrast to cotton, which is extra porous and can pull oil and moisture out of your hair, silk and satin protect it from harm. The supplies even have extra slip to assist keep away from breakage attributable to friction.
Grace Eleyae launched with its hero product, The Slap (a smooth bonnet with an elastic band to maintain it from sliding off your head), however has since expanded its assortment to incorporate turbans, beanies, baseball caps, fedoras, and extra.
And that vary, plus their gender-neutral kinds, is what caught my consideration. I stumbled throughout Grace Eleyae just a few months in the past throughout a uncommon second of a YouTube pre-roll advert really displaying me one thing of curiosity.
I’d all the time heard of the advantages of silk and satin, however, to be sincere, the traditional bonnet silhouette simply isn’t actually my type. I put on plenty of common beanies and caps on days once I can’t be bothered to type my hair. However I knew they have been additionally contributing to the tumbleweed state of affairs atop my head. So I purchased two of Grace Eleyae’s Slaps to check out: one to put on in public and one other to put on once I sleep.
“This product can actually affect everybody. However what took us a while to appreciate was that it’s very costly to market to everybody,” Eleyae says. “So we began with Black girls. Nevertheless it was all the time alleged to be one thing that was out there for all individuals who simply wish to protect their hair.”
To that finish, Eleyae says the corporate will introduce new sizes and flat-billed caps this 12 months, to additional attraction to a broader spectrum of consumers. The corporate can also be planning to launch a line of haircare merchandise and additional develop its retail presence by partnering with Sephora, along with Ulta and JCPenney.