Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
FcF: Tell us about yourself.
Natasha: Well, we both graduated with degrees from Ryerson University in 2014 - myself from Business Technology Management, and Row from Fashion Communications. This explains how we're quite opposite in backgrounds (tech vs arts), however, that's what makes us great partners! We complement each other well, especially where we come together like our similar backgrounds in (retail) sales and a passion for business! Not to mention, we were best friends first and definitely grew trust and a fond bond with each other, which only made us stronger friends and business partners throughout the years.
FcF: What is the CurlShoppe?
Rowan: CurlShoppe is a women-owned, curly hair company based in Toronto, Canada. Our focus is to cater to all things CURLY by providing quality, affordable curly hair products and educating others on how to take care of their curly hair.
FcF: How did you come up with the CurlShoppe?
Natasha: It honestly all started when I decided to cut all my hair off so I could be a true “curly girl”. After countless hours of watching youtube videos, reading blogs, and researching sites, I got my healthy hair on track and finally discovered my curls (this was after thinking I didn’t have any because I straightened my hair so much for so long, I didn’t know any better). I started sharing my journey (via blogging, YouTube and Instagram) and continued learning until I became more confident in myself and embracing my new found natural hair. To be honest, I started off by selling another company’s hair pills and imported them into Canada. One of the first things I did was register the business, start building the website (shoutout Shopify - still holding CurlShoppe down 5 years later), start the social media presence and off to the races! But after playing around with ingredients myself, researching science blogs and forums and making my own formulas, I realized that people were buying my products and that gave me so much confidence! I knew I was onto something.
I just wanted to be able to pick up a product, look at its ingredients and actually understand what was in it. I wanted others to know that the company they were buying from understood the natural hair community and what they go through to take care of their hair. Something both Row and I take pride in. The original goal for CurlShoppe was to simply provide Canadians the same great quality products at affordable prices. That’s when I asked Row to partner with me in the business and we got to work! Even though the strategy took a pivot - from selling other company products to making and selling our own - the goal remains the same :)
FcF: What were the first 3 steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue this idea?
Rowan: The very first thing Natasha and I did was sit down and brainstorm what the CurlShoppe brand was going to be, including our “big dream” goals for the company. Since it was a partnership, it was super important that we made sure we had the same goals and ideas in mind so that there wouldn’t be any major surprises later in our journey together. Once we were comfortable with our game plan, our second step was to plan out our first collection of products, now known as the “Coconut Is Everything” collection. Creating this collection started with market research, which helped us decide on the product types we wanted to have in our collection. Once that was decided, we began formulating and testing our products amongst friends and family. After our products were finalized our next step was getting our website setup and ready for launch, which was extremely simple and not the prettiest to look at when we first started (lol!). Website setup included things like deciding our terms/policies, product photography and creating overall content for the site.
FcF: If you are CoFounder, how did you meet your CoFounder? What do you look for in finding your CoFounders?
Natasha: We first met through a mutual friend when we were 18 back in 2010. We then met each other again while roaming the hallways at Ryerson University. We just clicked and it has been “love ever since” lol - seriously, just check out any photo we’ve taken and it looks like we’re engaged! Aha.
I’ll build off of the first question in saying that we are opposites that complement each other well. We just work! I’m the “techie” behind the scenes and apparently “scientist” (lol) since I personally formulate all of our products. Row is the “vision” for the brand of CurlShoppe and handles all of the creative. I think what really allows us to work well is that we both know what we’re good at and don’t step on each other’s toes when it comes to work. But we both respect each other’s work and always make decisions together. Even though we’re not experts in each other’s realms, we value the other’s opinion and know we’re a team. I think that’s the best thing you can find in a CoFounder.
FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Rowan: Do your market research! Find your place in the market and do all the research you can before starting. As it will most likely be a whole new world for you, make sure you understand what is currently offered vs. what you think is missing and develop a solution. Once you’ve developed your solution, figure out your next steps and for a lack of a better phrase, just make it happen!
FcF: How can the Female CoFounder community help you?
Natasha: The way that the Female CoFounder community can help us is by giving us a platform to share our story (just like this interview) and getting the chance to help out other Female CoFounders like us out there.
FcF: How can people contact you?
Rowan: We absolutely love meeting new people and welcoming them into the CurlShoppe fam so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Whether you have a general question, looking for some hair tips or are interested in trying out some of our products - just give us a shout :)
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