Growing up as a Black woman with naturally coily hair, McCormick senior Ayinoluwa Abegunde said she didn’t feel properly educated on how to care for her hair and lacked the tools, products and accessories to do so.
As a result, Abegunde launched her own brand in September 2020 in hopes of teaching other Black women to learn about and love their hair. She said she founded KOYLD, a start-up that began in The Garage “to drive the African woman’s full acceptance of the unique texture of her hair and reform the world’s perspective towards it.”
She said it’s essential to combat hair texturism — the idea that specific types of natural hair are perceived as more beautiful than others.
“I want people to respect … that other people have this unique texture and they want to wear it and they should not be discriminated against,” Abegunde said. “I want women with coily hair to be able to go into the workplace and not feel like they’re different from anyone.”
As a chemical engineering major, Abegunde also said she hopes the brand will inspire young Black women to pursue STEM. She’s currently working on a book focusing on the science of coily hair and the psychology behind hair care.
A main pillar of KOYLD is promoting a joyful hair journey, she said, while also giving space to process the years of struggle, rejection and discrimination that African women have dealt with concerning their hair. She said the book will focus on working through these hardships so everyone can love their hair. Following the book’s launch, Abegunde hopes to create hair products specifically engineered for coily hair.
Abegunde works with two friends she met in the United Kingdom: Sefinat Opesanwo, who serves as art director and photographer, and Pelumi Obasaju, the marketing director.
Obasaju called her journey with KOYLD one of growth, saying it has contributed to her personal journey with her natural hair.
“I love how KOYLD effortlessly cultivates a confident joy, and I’m excited to see how the community evolves,” Obasaju said.
Opesanwo said her role primarily involves reviewing the brand’s photos and marketing material.
She works directly with Abegunde to realize the brand’s vision, Opesanwo said.
“I have to be able to see the vision laid out by the CEO and bring it to life as an artistic production,” Opesanwo said.
The brand also has an Instagram, @wearekoyld, which Abegunde said serves as a space for African women to learn, ask questions and share their own coily hair experiences.
Abegunde said some people have questioned why she started an Instagram for KOYLD before launching products, but she said creating a community space was important to her. She aimed to create a platform where everyone feels safe no matter how they wear their hair or its texture — especially given how personal hair care can be for Black women, she said.
“It’s a priority to continuously try and make it an inclusive space,” Abegunde said. “No matter where you are in your hair journey and no matter how you like to wear your hair, at a specific point you’re able to benefit from the brand and what we share.”
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