By Danielle Bennings
Fredrica Antwi is the founder of Locks of Curls, a customized subscription box service for people with naturally curly hair. She’s tackling a problem that curly haired people have known forever: not all curls are the same and thus cannot be treated the same. To help the millions of people taming their curly hair users of Locks of Curls receive five sample sizes of products chosen specifically for them based on a questionnaire that they fill out on the Locks of Curls web site. After a few months, users should be able to identify products that work for their hair and lifestyle.
Fredrica got involved with the Dingman Center last year as she was browsing the Smith School’s website. She had just begun thinking about her idea for Locks of Curls but hadn’t made much progress. Frederica knew she needed guidance and resources. After reading about the Center’s student accelerator, Fearless Founders, Fredrica thought the program could help her bring the idea to life. She then applied and was accepted to phase one of the accelerator, Idea Shell. Fredrica spent seven weeks using the Lean Launchpad methodology to discover and talk to customers all the while receiving advice from Dingman Center Entrepreneurs in Residence. After completing Idea Shell, she competed in a Pitch Dingman Competition and won a $500 grant from Capital One to build her minimum viable product.
Following the Pitch Dingman Competition, Fredrica launched a YouTube channel and
immediately uploaded two videos. The YouTube channel has become a platform for people with curly hair of different ethnicities to talk about the products they use. The videos showcase two women of different races showing how the same products can work on different types of curls. The products are from the brand Texture My Way, a Locks of Curls sponsor. With this strategic partnership in place, Fredrica launched a giveaway of free products. Users who subscribe to the Locks of Curls YouTube channel and leave a comment on one of the videos are entered to win four full-sized products from Texture My Way. Until August 15, people can also enter by sending a tweet to @locksofcurls on Twitter.
This fall, Fredrica will complete Fearless Founders stage two, called Hatch, taught by Elana Fine. In the second stage of the accelerator program, she hopes to focus more on bringing her product to life. For Fredrica, a big part of the Idea Shell stage was determining if the product can exist and customer segments. She is looking forward to taking the research and customer development from Idea Shell and making Locks of Curls a reality.
Fredrica’s next milestone is to finalize suppliers and packaging so that she can start shipping Locks of Curls to monthly subscribers by February 2015. To other student entrepreneurs, Fredrica says “As a student entrepreneur, you tend to make a lot of excuses because you have so many other things going on that will sometimes take priority over your business. It’s important to keep trying — don’t get discouraged.”