Wigs are excellent concealers of the imperfect hair underneath them, but Girl+Hair doesn’t believe women should settle for the imperfect, even if it’s unseen.
The emerging brand’s products are designed to maintain the health of natural hair for wearers of wigs, weaves, hair extensions and braids through nozzle applicator tips and readily rinsable formulas that facilitate scalp cleansing and strengthening. With sales in the global wig and extension segment rising, Target took a shine to the under-haircare concept and is rolling Girl+Hair out to 300 locations by the end of this month.
“We believe we have the first product line on the market that targets women of color wearing protective styles,” says Girl+Hair CEO Josef Verovic, who started the brand with his wife Camille. “We didn’t develop our products in the kitchen sink like so many other new brands have done. We immediately worked with a star chemist, and all of our products are very scientific. They are state of the art.”
The Verovics were beauty industry outsiders when they introduced Girl+Hair in 2014. Camille, previously a marketing specialist, is currently a dermatology resident, and Josef had an international law career. A beauty dilemma plaguing Camille pushed them into beauty. After chopping off her hair a decade ago, Camille searched for products to enrich what was left of it that was put away in braids. Finding nothing, she created Girl+Hair to fill the gap she detected in beauty selections. Josef joined the brand for operational support.
“We believe we have the first product line on the market that targets women of color wearing protective styles.”
Priced from $15 to $16, Girl+Hair products are Clarifying ACV Rinse, Sulfate Free Shampoo, Leave In Conditioner, Restoring Hair Balm and Hydrating Hair Milk. Fueled by the popularity of ingredient searches for apple cider vinegar, Clarifying ACV Rinse is the brand’s bestseller online. At stores, Restoring Hair Balm is the bestseller. Girl+Hair expects to add two products to its assortment this year.
The brand’s core audience consists of African-American women aged 21 to 45. Josef shares its typical customer is an urban dweller and young professional regularly sporting wigs, hair extensions, weaves and braids. She’s definitely a Target shopper, he notes, and can be spotted scouting the multicultural haircare section where Girl+Hair is being grouped with brands such as Miss Jessie’s, Kinky-Curly and As I Am.
For the initial two years of Girl+Hair’s existence, it sold only online. In 2016, it made a move into physical retail by entering Ricky’s NYC. Last year, it launched at Harmon Face Values and Sally Beauty. Beyond Target, Girl+Hair is available in roughly 200 doors. The brand’s revenues have been doubling annually and, this year, it projects they will triple or quadruple.
“Once you get into retail, it’s not like you can just sit back and watch. You have a lot more eyes on your product, and you might be discovered more easily, but that’s not enough.”
Prior to its leap into Target, Girl+Hair participated in the Target Takeoff accelerator program that focused on natural beauty in 2018. The program allows brands to connect with Target staff to inform them about the demands of mass retail and fellow consumer packaged goods startups that might be experiencing similar challenges to them. Already prepared for manufacturing at scale, Josef says the program impressed upon him the importance of marketing. Girl+Hair is beefing up its marketing team this year.
“Once you get into retail, it’s not like you can just sit back and watch. You have a lot more eyes on your product, and you might be discovered more easily, but that’s not enough,” elaborates Josef. “What I have learned is that we need to expand our marketing reach to educate and drive potential customers to stores, so they understand the product and pick it up off the shelf.”
Global growth is in Girl+Hair’s future. Verovic mentions the European Union, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean as promising destinations abroad for the brand. For now, however, it’s concentrating its efforts stateside. External investment could be in Girl+Hair’s future, too, but the Verovics are holding off at the moment.
“Although we’ve been in touch with a couple of investors, I feel like we are not at the stage yet to look for outside funding because we’re experiencing quite a healthy business on our own,” says Josef. “That might change later, and we will need to think strategically about how to grow the business big, really big — that’s our goal.”