For one Duke student, unruly hair doesn't hold her back—it keeps her in business.
Flower Child Remedies, Inc.—started by senior Tiana Horn—has been producing and selling all-natural hair care products for three years. The products include leave-in moisturizers and deep conditioners, and are made entirely of edible ingredients, such as coconut oil and honey. Horn, who is this year's Black Student Alliance president, was a semi-finalist in the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative’s 2016 Duke Startup Challenge and is a 2016 Student Entrepreneur in the Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs Program.
“We don't use any artificial chemicals or preservatives,” Horn said. “Our deep conditioner is safe enough to eat.”
The company’s nature-based products set it apart from its competitors, who often use artificial ingredients in producing hair items, Horn explained.
She noted that she got the idea for Flower Child Remedies when she chopped off her hair three years ago to get rid of anything that had been chemically relaxed, leaving only her naturally curly hair.
From there, she began researching natural hair products and made her first product using simple ingredients like yogurt and honey.
“The ingredients penetrate the hair shaft,” she said. “It’s good for increasing the hair’s health.”
Within the next year, Horn and her co-founder—her cousin who attends Rider University in New Jersey—hope to also unveil a shampoo product and upgrade their website to include a feature that allows users to create customized conditioners based on their hair type and how they wish to change their hair.
Horn noted that her advertising strategy for Flower Child Remedies, Inc. so far has involved social media promotion on Facebook and Twitter as well as promotions targeted at Duke students, including free door delivery. However, she is also trying more unconventional methods like offering a monthly subscription box of products that Duke students can have sent to them each month.
Horn's company attracted the attention this year of Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs, a program that supports student innovators by providing funding and mentorship. Howie Rhee, managing director at Fuqua’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and program director at Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs, said that he has enjoyed working with Horn.
“It’s a good product and a good idea, and I’m proud of what she’s done so far,” Rhee noted.
Junior Dylan Gambardella, who was also funded by the Melissa & Doug Entrepreneurs program, recalled being impressed by Horn when he first heard her speak about her company during the program’s group meeting. He said that when Horn explained that her products were all-natural, even safe enough to eat, she took a little bite of the hair serum to prove this claim.
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“I was hooked from the start,” Gambardella said, adding that he even bought Horn’s product as a gift for his sister.
He attributed Horn’s success to her hard work and “go-getter” mentality.
Rhee added that she “doesn’t let problems stop her from making progress.”
In the future, Horn said she hopes to make the company self-sustaining and work full time on it. She noted that in the few years since she has started Flower Child Remedies, the company has given her a sense of fulfillment.
“What’s most fun is feeling empowered and… doing something that you love,” she said.