How do new customers react to your textured haircare boutique concept?
We’re a few months into the business now and some people are still coming into the shop asking if we’re a salon. Once customers understand that we’re a textured haircare boutique, they open up about their hair concerns, which they might not have done in other high street haircare shops.
Why did you decide to launch Hairitage?
We identify with the experience of our customers; as black women, we’ve had to compromise the way we shop for our hair.
Catia: I would feel a complete disconnect with sales advisors. I wouldn’t know what to buy for my hair. I wanted to change that experience for other women. We shouldn’t shy away from talking about textured hair.
What were your favourite haircare brands growing up?
Jo: When I was around 10, it was L’Oréal Kids! Then as a teenager it was Pink and Dax. My mum always told me to use only good products on my hair, but neither of us knew what brands were ‘good’ brands.
When was the moment that you really started to embrace your natural hair?
Jo: After I left university, I worked in PR. During that time, I read a lot of magazines, but couldn’t relate to the stories or the women on the pages. I decided to turn to YouTube and started watching videos by SunKissAlba, whose hair was very similar to mine. She would teach her audience how to look for the right ingredients, which products to use and how to maintain healthy hair - and that’s where my journey began.
Tell us more about the Hairitage kids workshop!
Haircare education starts at home! Two years ago Jo did a workshop for mothers and daughters: teaching the mums how to care for their children’s hair and at the same time encouraging the kids. Jo asked the mums to send her a photo where they looked their best, but they all sent an image of themselves with straight hair. It begged the question, ‘what are you teaching your children?’. When Hairitage came about, we decided that it was imperative to continue these workshops to educate parents and children about the beauty of natural hair.
Have you seen an improvement in awareness of natural hair needs in recent years?
Definitely in the people closest to us, like friends and family. But also from those who come into the shop; customers sometimes return and tell us about their success with the products that we’ve recommended.
Industry-wise, there has been an improvement, but there is still much to do. I see a lot of brands jumping on a bandwagon and using natural haircare as a trend - and it shouldn’t be like that.
Why did you pick the six brands that you’re currently working with?
We said before Hairitage launched that we were only going to stock products that we believe in, and are effective on either or both of our hair types. This is so that we can recommend and talk about the products with customers. We also wanted to streamline the shopping experience, so we decided to strip away anything that we felt was unnecessary.
At Hairitage, there are brands that are targeted towards more coily hair, and those that are aimed towards softer curls and waves. There are a lot of brands that we would like to work with in future, especially black-owned businesses.
How long does your product testing process take?
A solid month of use is usually enough to know whether the product is compatible with either of our hair types.
What do you get up to in your free time?
Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of free time! We go to a lot of industry events to put a face to the name, and we socialise at those events, but apart from that it’s very intense running a start-up. Catia is also a mum, so her time is very limited. We haven’t actually had the time to take in everything that we’ve accomplished!
Hairitage have recently launched a personalised men's haircare service. Find out more here.