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Why Indie and Handmade Natural Hair Brands are Disappearing

• Apr 3, 2016

When I first stopped relaxing my hair in 2009, Etsy was one of my favorite places to shop for natural hair products. On hair forums, we frequently discussed these products, sharing everything from shipping time and packaging to actual product performance. The the natural hair movement was still fairly new, we relied heavily on these brands because natural hair products were difficult to find locally and at mainstream stores. I recall Kinky Curly being one of the only brands that I didn’t have to order, and at the time it was only at select Whole Foods.

As natural hair grew in popularity, chains like CVS, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart began to take notice. The market was rapidly growing and they realized that natural hair is worth a lot of money. Now, natural hair products are everywhere — some stores even have their own natural hair sections. But what does that mean for indie brands? Curly Kinks, ReVe Essentials, Spiral Solutions, Jasmine’s Bath and Beauty Products, Nunu Love Naturals, and more have closed up shop. Meanwhile bigger brands, like Shea Moisture and Camille Rose Naturals, are expanding into more chain stores.

This shift doesn’t really come as a surprise. People are searching for products that are easily accessible and consistent. Often, indie hair products vary in texture or even performance across batches, an issue that keeps customers from coming back. Also, ordering products online can be a hassle, with high shipping costs, potentially long shipping times, and not being able to see the product before it’s purchased. And surprisingly, a lot of the products in the stores have great, natural ingredients — something that we often turned to indie haircare for.

For indie and handmade natural hair brands to survive long term, it’s more important than ever for them to think about mass distribution and product consistency. But the sad reality is that, for many, this will simply not be possible.

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6 Comments on "Why Indie and Handmade Natural Hair Brands are Disappearing"

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The market for hair products is saturated and you have a ton of big name brands copying smaller brands found on sites like Etsy. This is a great article from a consumer standpoint. I’m a one woman show creating hair products and am learning as I go.

Sistah Butters
Elle, I want to thank you for sharing your perspective about the Indie Natural Products Movement (“INPM”). While I recognize the transition from using products manufactured for shelves in stores in our community is evolving. There is a differing perspective that those of us in the “all natural” arena of the indie Market share and that is “absofreakinlutely” NO SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS. Why, because overtime we become toxic(sicky) from the chemicals, end up at the doctor’s office and they write a prescription for more chemicals. It’s an interesting little circle they’ve invented for us to play in. Most products on the… Read more »

I still order quite a bit because many of the products I prefer are not sold locally. I also order off Etsy for like my powders but not as much since Bobeam moved to its own site.


Its a pity, because the indie brands that started the natural hair products movement are now a risk of being bought out or out of business entirely. I really hope many of them can stay afloat though


The owners will have to decide if they want to expand. From there they should guesstimate the cost of additional labor, materials and machinery then take out a loan which they should be able to get by putting their existing sales numbers and customer lists in a comprehensive business plan. Good luck!

Personally I love to try indie brands. I love the idea of handmade hit products with good ingredients. The packaging is usually charming. For a time I ordered everything for my hair online. I have to admit, though, that I prefer being able to pick up my hair products at my local store. I used to live near a huge black beauty supply that sold all sorts of brands you can’t get in store, but not anymore. Moreover, the brands you can buy in stored WERE indie brands with excellent ingredients that have simply gone big. Eden Bodyworks, Oyin Handmade,… Read more »

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