An App To Help Black Women With Hair Care

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Jennifer Lambert, left, and Jihan Thompson are the founders of Swivel, a magnificence reserving app that connects minority ladies with salons that know easy methods to take care of textured hair.

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Yana Paskova for The New York Occasions

It’s a bewildering irony to depart a hair salon trying worse than whenever you arrived.

“It’s whenever you put your hair in a bun after you get it accomplished and say to your self: ‘Did she even use a flat iron? It’s nonetheless so puffy,’” mentioned Jihan Thompson, a former journal editor and a founding father of the wonder reserving app Swivel. “So many occasions I’ve left the salon feeling like I wasted my cash.”

Ms. Thompson and her longtime pal Jennifer Lambert launched their app to digitize the hair salon vetting course of for black and Hispanic ladies, a gaggle largely ignored by the wonder app craze.

“Generally you get fortunate along with your 11 hours of Yelp analysis, however we’re attempting to streamline that course of,” Ms. Lambert mentioned.

Swivel customers choose a desired service and point out their hair kind. The providers checklist contains historically black hairstyles — cornrows, twist-outs, Bantu knots, silk press — and addresses hair varieties like curly, kinky and transitioning from relaxed hair to pure. Primarily based on that info and the consumer’s location (Swivel is out there solely in New York Metropolis for the time being), the app affords a listing of salons chosen for his or her talent and repair stage. Both Ms. Lambert or Ms. Thompson has visited every of the salons on the app.

“We realized the expertise’s on the market,” Ms. Lambert mentioned. “It’s only a matter of connecting folks with it.”

Hair is an integral a part of black cultural expression, so it’s unsurprising, and fascinating, that hair care typically takes place at salons inside the black neighborhood. However the black hair expertise can also be formed by a magnificence trade that doesn’t educate its stylists to take care of textured hair.

“Considered one of our stylists mentioned that each time she realized a brand new approach in magnificence faculty, she would ask the teacher, ‘O.Okay., now how would you try this on my hair?’” Ms. Thompson mentioned.

Constructing and selling Swivel and looking for funding has meant discovering the precise method to clarify the void the app fills. “Exterior of the black neighborhood or black ladies, folks haven’t taken a second to consider black ladies’s hair — to even take into account if now we have distinctive hair wants,” Ms. Lambert mentioned. “The sunshine-bulb second happens once we inform those that magnificence faculties merely don’t practice stylists on black hair.”

In November, the founders introduced in Anthony Dickey because the strategic adviser to the corporate. His Midtown salon, Hair Guidelines, and hair-care line by the identical identify are mainstays of the pure hair motion. Mr. Dickey famous that the retail trade had responded to the pure hair neighborhood by developing with merchandise, however, he mentioned: “It’s type of the cart earlier than the horse. The hair schooling didn’t include all the brand new merchandise. And the merchandise received’t work in the event you don’t know easy methods to use them correctly.”

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Seen right here,a display picture of the Swivel web page. Swivel customers choose a desired service and point out their hair kind. Primarily based on that info and the consumer’s location (Swivel is out there solely in New York Metropolis for the time being), the app affords a listing of salons chosen for his or her talent and repair stage.

The black salon enterprise has been on a decline lately as ladies have embraced pure hair and are available to rely on the web for recommendation. Mr. Dickey hopes he’ll be capable of educate hairstylists and salon homeowners within the Swivel community easy methods to take care of pure hair correctly and produce natural-hair purchasers again into black salons.

“I’m transitioning now,” Ms. Thompson mentioned. “And the frequent theme is everybody desires to have the fullest, healthiest, longest hair. A part of that’s having an excellent stylist, an expert who can stroll you thru. YouTube is nice about empowering ladies to see we will do our hair ourselves. Nevertheless it doesn’t harm to have a stylist in your again pocket.”

She typically has a noteworthy blowout — simply the correct amount of quantity, shine and curl. Working a hair enterprise, Ms. Lambert and Ms. Thompson really feel the strain to have excellent hair — on a regular basis. “That was not my life earlier than,” Ms. Thompson mentioned.

The 2 have the simple rhythm that comes with a longtime friendship. (They met 22 years in the past, in fourth grade.) “The bond is there, in order that we’re not going to bail on one another when issues get powerful,” Ms. Thompson mentioned.

She added that that they had additionally discovered help within the bigger tech neighborhood: “It’s wonderful how whenever you begin to inform folks what you’re doing, folks simply need to assist.”

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