Struggling all her life to find resources to properly care for her hair, Ms. Ritu Maharjan wanted to share her learning with all curly hair girls. Through her blog, she connected with many people who had similar experiences and learnt a lot through the process. Rather than waiting for a change in the Nepali market, Ms. Maharjan and her partner Mr. Shirish Krishna Dangol embarked on the journey to become entrepreneurs without having any business background. Their sole motive was to encourage this industry and support curly hair people to embrace their natural hair type. Started in August 2020, Curlove Nepal has brought a new industry to the Nepali market and people have gained awareness of different ways of protecting and managing their hair.
A couple of weeks back we connected with Ms. Maharjan and Mr. Dangol who answered all of our questions about their entrepreneurial journey.
Read our conversation to find out more about this interesting business.
Tell me about your motivation to start your own enterprise?
Ritu: I started with a blog, which seemed like the best way to raise awareness, build a curly hair community and learn from each other on similar hair care issues. Due to free time during the lockdown, I started experimenting and making products for my personal use. There was a lot of information that I discovered during the research phase, which made me motivated to share my learnings and make them accessible to the mainstream market. Hence, I wanted to bridge the gap in this industry by taking the risk and innovating with my own products.
Can you tell me more about the company and the production process?
Our main motive with Curlove Nepal is to empower people with curly hair and for them to not feel ashamed for having curly hair. We initially source products ourselves after checking quality from multiple vendors. We then provide the material to tailor aunties who work on the production. We provide them the information about the quantity and style. However, they are the ones who instruct us in terms of wastage and how to reduce and reuse it. As founders, we both are involved in photo shoots, social media handling, and customer relationship.
What are the products currently being offered?
We originally started with bonnets, which are in two variations: adjustable and nonadjustable. Other products include satin pillowcases, hair buffs, headbands, scrunchies, and satin-lined beanies.
Who are your allies in running the business?
There are two of us who look at sales and customer handling, while there are around 4 aunties who produce our products. We have outsourced our delivery service. We are still a small team and are slowly expanding the market.
What are the main challenges in starting this venture especially during the lockdown?
The main challenge was the lack of awareness among our target consumers. People did not know about bonnets and how to use them. There are several benefits of products like hair buffs for people who use helmets, yet the awareness was very low since the product was completely new to the Nepali market. It was quite a challenge to make people aware and change their habits. Additionally, starting with a limited supply of resources, we had difficulties sourcing materials once the orders started to increase. However, the support from the curly hair community and different influencers helped us to stay motivated despite the challenges.
How do you deal with competition?
There isn’t much competition in our target market. There are fewer companies focused especially on products for curly hair. However, we view any growth in this industry as a positive sign. We acknowledge new companies as they are also on the same journey as us to make a difference in this industry.
Where can the customers find your products?
How has this entrepreneurial journey been so far for you?
Shirish: I initially did not realize the magnitude of issues that curly hair people are facing. I was just supporting my partner and understanding the concept better. However, now I feel very satisfied with the journey so far. As the orders started growing and people started recognizing our mission, it truly felt like we have accomplished something.
Ritu: As we were both not from a business background, it was a process of learning by doing. We have learnt a lot by being entrepreneurs. It has been exciting to experience the process of building relationships with customers.
Is there any additional information you would like to give to other emerging social entrepreneurs?
Sometimes, just starting a venture may not be enough. There must be continuous learning through the experiences faced in this journey. We would like to encourage other emerging entrepreneurs to take that risk and it will be worth it if you keep trying. Money definitely is a crucial factor for any startup; however, we started with a small amount and a single product. It is better to take small initiatives and built them up, rather than contemplating and not trying at all.
Want to find ways to reduce your hair damage and improve your hair care routine? Curly hair or not, Curlove Nepal will change your hair game!