This couple changed the landscape of the beauty industry with their line of hair products for black boys. This is how they did it

Courtesy: Young King Hair Care

Cora Miller found herself frowning and frustrated as she searched the hair care aisles for products suitable for her 12 month old baby. The clean but effective options created for her son’s textured curls were nonexistent, which was surprising as she had been wearing her natural hair for years and had plenty of options for her own coils.

“I have natural hair, so I thought about using the same products on her hair, but I needed something that wouldn’t be too harsh for a young child,” Miller told Essence.

It was then that she recognized a significant hole in the beauty industry.

For a number of years there was a significant gap between beauty marketing identified by women and consumer products identified by men. African Americans have a purchasing power of $ 1.2 trillion, according to Nielsen, and the black hair care industry alone generates billions in annual sales of Essence reported in 2019, with most of those dollars coming directly from women’s handbags.

Since then, we have witnessed a significant increase in the consumption of male grooming products, where global spending reached a value of $ 69.8 billion in 2020. By 2024, the male grooming market is estimated at around $ 81.2 billion in the United States alone.

Despite these staggering numbers, there was still an access problem, Cora found.

“Men’s grooming is still a predominantly white space, especially for prepubescent boys of color,” she found after doing extensive market research, encouraged by her marketing director. husband Stefan Miller. “I’m one of those people who believe in representation and want to make sure we all see ourselves in the products we buy. ”

So they set out to do just that.

First, they started by conducting field studies, writing parent surveys, hosting focus groups, and pouring in proprietary market data that indicated all they had experienced as new parents. of a little black boy with beautifully textured hair: there was nothing currently on the market for him.

“We really took the time to definitively answer the question “Is this just something we are going through or are other parents of black boys facing this challenge as well?”

After a resounding “yes” from the parents surveyed, the Millers decided to address the issue with their own product line, Young King Hair Care.

After its launch in December 2019, the line’s success was almost instantaneous, which surprised Miller a bit.

“I had no entrepreneurial ambitions,” said the former executive of a nonprofit organization. “Learning how to meet the challenges of owning a small business opened my eyes, especially since we were putting all of our money into it. ”

Although the couple started to start the business, they quickly gained the attention of big box retailers and were quickly able to increase their distribution.

After being chosen as one of 10 out of 450 brands, Young King Haircare was selected to participate in Target’s acceleration program for emerging beauty brands, a game-changing experience for the couple.

“We’ve tapped into such an amazing network and learned so much that is integral to a beauty brand’s success during the program that I’m not sure we would have had access otherwise,” Miller said of the opportunity.

While there, Miller said he learned the intricacies of scaling up and reaching widespread distribution to retailers.

“Young King products were placed in Target stores across the country within a year of our launch,” Miller explained, referring to clearly visible displays for a product placed at the end of an aisle. “It’s not a big deal for the big brands that have the money for it, but as a growing black business it’s incredibly important.”

Each product has been designed with natural ingredients and is free from sulfates, parabens, mineral oils or other harmful ingredients, making them safe for babies and adults.

Today, the brand is sold in more than 1,300 stores across the country, including Walmart.

“Amplifying the visibility of Young King Haircare means we are positioning the line to be that personal care brand that teaches our young boys from an early age to truly take care of themselves from the inside out. ”


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