What It's About
A solution to the trials and tribulations of curly hair—an episode you don’t want to brush off!
Words of Wisdom
Rikki had some great advice for those looking to create a product without experience:
“Surround yourself with people who are ‘smarter’ than you are. There are so many people who are willing to help and give advice—don’t be too proud to take it.”
The average head of hair has roughly 120,000 hairs while a curly head only has 100,000. Since a curly head of hair doesn't have as many hair follicles, there are fewer sebaceous glands. This means that their scalps aren’t as oily as someone with straight hair, so they don’t need to shampoo as often.
Notes from Chris
Episode 831Rikki Mor of Colorado Springs was the youngest of three very curly haired girls. Much of her adolescence was spent actively avoiding her mother and the dreaded hairbrush that never seemed to be far from her reach. If you’re part of the 65% of the human population blessed (or cursed) with curly hair, it’s no surprise as to why. While straight and even wavy hair can handle a good brushing no matter its current state, curly hair is a bit “extra.” Due to its texture, curly hair is prone to developing knots, and attempting to brush through those knots can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved. And it was that constant frustration that led Rikki’s mother to do something pretty drastic: she took the three of them to a salon and had them cut it all off. Just like Newton and the apple, it was that haircut that changed the trajectory of Rikki’s life. Because, according to her account of things, having short hair, being named “Rikki,” and wearing glasses meant that everyone thought she was a boy. With a new frustration to add to her list, she swore that she would never cut her own children’s hair unless they explicitly asked her to. Twenty years later, Rikki was married with twin daughters sporting hair just as long, unruly, and unmanageable as her own, and she had an opportunity to put that childhood promise to the test. While Rikki and her husband rarely argued, the gloves were off when it came down to the morning ritual of brushing out the twins’ hair. At this point in time, Rikki owned every brush available on the market that promised it would get through all types of hair, but none of them were any match for her daughters’ magnificent manes. One especially trying morning, Rikki vented to her husband about their predicament through tears of frustration. How was it possible that humanity had put a man on the moon but still had not found an easy solution for brushing curly hair? She knew that she couldn't be the only mom dealing with this issue, but nobody was coming up with a solution. Something had to give—because these knots were certainly not budging. This time, instead of commiserating with her, her husband took a more productive approach—he asked her what she thought did and what didn't work with all the brushes she had tried. This got her to thinking—what would she do if she were designing a brush of her own? After sitting on the idea for a little while, Rikki approached a local product engineer to show him the way she brushed her daughters’ hair—for example, how she held the brush by its head, rather than its handle, for more control. She also wanted bristles that worked more like little fingers. After several iterations, they settled on the perfect 5 x 3 inch brush. Each bristle would penetrate the hair at a different depth, with the longest one capable of digging into the knot while the other lengths would open it up. Since it worked like magic on the knots in her girls’ hair, she called it Knot Genie and set up a website to sell it on. For the first couple years of business, Rikki juggled building Knot Genie with her job working for Nationwide Insurance. By the end of their second year of business (in 2012), Knot Genie’s sales had grown to seven figures allowing her to start dedicating her time to it full-time. After experiencing several years of seven-figure profits as a result of their lock on the market, similar products began popping up from companies with deeper pockets and private equity money. Unlike Rikki, they could hire celebrities and some of the most popular influencers to get their brand in front of audiences. Their income from Knot Genie has been cut in half from what they were making in earlier days, but they’re still taking home profits in the mid six-figure range. And they certainly aren’t throwing in the hair towel. They’ve been working on other products that fit with their brand and mission including a line of Knot Genies specifically tailored to groom the family pet. No matter how you curl it, it’s a spectacular, hair-raising success.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Knot Genie: Comb on over to Rikki's website to learn more about her morning saving products!
- Retro Hair Accessories Scrunch Up $4,000/Month: Remember the hair scrunchie from the 1980s? It’s making a comeback, and this community college administrator sells thousands of them from her home
- Woman Sells Hair Grips to Orthodox Jews & Drag Queens: It begins as a product for Orthodox Jewish women. It goes on to serve cancer patients, Broadway performers, and drag queens, earning “fringe benefits” and $4,000/month
- Long-Haired Men Create Tribal Identity: Two guys nurture a supportive community based on the unique shared identity of men with long hair and create “Hair Ties for Guys”
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