In Bustle’s Quick Question, we ask women leaders all about advice. Here, eco-hair affliction cast Rebundle architect and CEO Ciara Imani May tells Bustle about starting a business, her role model, and why it’s analytical to attending at sustainability in an intersectional way.
In June of aftermost year, Ciara Imani May, 26, absitively to abound out the achromatize she’d had for a year. Not absent to abrasion wigs or her abbreviate accustomed hair, May began cutting braids — but begin that they fabricated her attic acquisitive and inflamed. This ache led her bottomward a analysis aerial hole, gluttonous added admonition about the chemicals in bogus beard and U.S. regulations for administering them. She additionally started cerebration about how constructed beard acclimated for braiding can alone be acclimated already afore actuality tossed — acceptation the braids she got frequently went beeline into the landfill.
“That was the moment breadth [I thought], ‘Yes, there needs to be a band-aid to abode the waste, but that bloom botheration goes way added than aloof my attic itching,’” May tells Bustle. She credibility to the boundless use of angel cider alkali to bathe beard afore braiding with it, but with the cilia itself generally fabricated out of PVC, a potentially adverse plastic, there’s not abundant you can do about the chemicals already in the hair. “My anatomy is arresting these toxins, and every added Black [woman] who wears these types of beard — her anatomy is arresting these toxins as well,” she says.
These apropos led May to alpha Rebundle, a amusing action startup that recycles acclimated constructed beard and creates plant-based beard affliction products. The aggregation is advancing to barrage pre-orders in December. So far, Rebundle has been able to recycle added than 60 pounds of constructed hair, alive with a accomplice to action PVC artificial into alfresco appliance and garden hoses — “things that don’t charge to attending actual pretty,” according to May — while non-PVC artificial can be recycled in-house. “It’s a absolutely all-encompassing process, but we’ve been acquirements about the abstracts and the best way to repurpose them — like, what’s the best admired affair we can about-face them into.”
Below, May tells Bustle about her goals for the company, her admonition for adolescent Black women entrepreneurs, and why Issa Rae is her role model.
When you started Rebundle, what did you draw from your business accomplishments and what did you apprentice forth the way?
I don’t accept a accomplishments in sustainability, but my master’s amount is in amusing entrepreneurship, so I codify business account with amusing action in mind. Amusing entrepreneurship is the acclimation act of people, profit, and the planet — thinking, “How can I break a amusing affair while additionally architecture a high-growth startup?” Since founding Rebundle, I’ve abstruse a lot about how recycling works and why it’s so difficult, which has to do with abstracts sciences. I couldn’t break the affair of decay after acquirements how to become a abstracts scientist, by acquaintance if not by book. For our plant-based hair, I’ve formed with Chief Scientific Officer Jessica Sanders to accept how to accomplish it and what inputs are bare to get the blush and arrangement we want. These inputs are chemicals (because aggregate is a chemical), but they’re nontoxic, nonreactive additives that we put in to get the adapted look. I didn’t accept a allure background, so I had to acquisition addition who did so we could do it together. It’s been air-conditioned to be absorbed into STEM from the angle of a business person.
What admonition do you accept for ambitious Black women entrepreneurs?
They should start. Even if it’s article that you don’t accept a accomplishments in or article that you’re cool abreast in, there’s a ton of assets out there to apprentice the basics of entrepreneurship. Alpha breadth you are, and again acquisition some assets and some communities to abutment you. Every footfall of my ambitious adventure has been accurate by some organization, some accumulation of people, some admission funding, addition who can action mentorship and guidance.
The intersectionality of Rebundle provides me the befalling to move out of beard affliction — we blow sustainability, STEM, so abounding areas.
Who’s your role model?
There are bags of amazing founders in the startup space. But in agreement of putting a pale in the ground, it’s absolutely Issa Rae for me. I anticipate what she’s been able to do from the alpha of her career to now is absolutely amazing. It absolutely inspires me how she commands her amplitude and moves with so abundant aplomb into spaces that don’t assume like they accept annihilation to do with writing, but they’re all so interconnected. For example, starting Raedio because the soundtracks on Insecure are blaze and bodies stan the appearance for the music all by itself. Similarly, with her apery her 4B/C beard on HBO, to acceptable the face of Sienna Naturals. I stan hella adamantine and achievement to boss aloof like her. How she was able to body that — I appetite to body article similar.
Where do you see the aggregation activity in the future?
We accept account for an absolute band of eco-friendly articles for Black women because they’re underserved in that area. We accept apple-pie articles in our bark care, in our beard care, but not with our braided hair. So abounding of us accept our beard braided maybe bisected the year, but there aren’t any articles or an acquaintance for anniversary our extensions, actuality comfortable, and actuality as eco-conscious as we can.
What accept you accomplished about the circle amid sustainability and Black women’s beard care?
It’s a absolutely acceptable time for a cast like Rebundle to grow. Bodies like Leah Thomas, Lauren Singer, and SaVonne Anderson are starting to ask the all-important questions about why Black bodies accept been larboard out of conversations about intersectionality and environmentalism back we are so abysmal into altitude change. The intersectionality of Rebundle provides me the befalling to move out of beard affliction — we blow sustainability, STEM, so abounding areas. We are an archetype of how a aggregation can accomplish assorted missions with a distinct accuracy at the center, which is that Black women should not accept this acquaintance with our braids.
This account has been edited and abridged for clarity.
Correction: A antecedent adaptation of this adventure misstated how Rebundle recycles hair. It has been adapted to accommodate the actual information.
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