Kevin Roose recently referenced NaturallyCurly.com (a website devoted to individuals with natural textures) in a Dumb Money” piece for NY Magazine which stated “Some of tech’s clunkers never get off the ground, but others manage to get big, high-profile investments despite having no redeeming qualities whatsoever. (For example, what kind of genius decided to throw $1.2 million at NaturallyCurly, the “leading social network and community for people with wavy, curly and kinky hair?”).” The series planned to “periodically trawl tech blogs for the worst examples of Silicon Valley stupidity, then subject the investors behind them to public mockery,” though NaturallyCurly was not one of the five more closely-examined websites.
Quickly, members of the natural hair community clapped back in the comment section, and Christa Bailey, the CEO of NaturallyCurly’s parent company TextureMedia weighed in also, noting that “approximately 60% of the world has textured hair (waves, curls and coils). That’s a lot of people — close to 80 million textured hair females 18+ in the US alone.” She continued:
“Combined with other brands in the TextureMedia portfolio, NaturallyCurly serves close to 2 million unique visitors every month who appreciate having an engaged community platform to share and learn more about products, stylists, photos, trends, hair health and more.
Women with textured hair spend 3x more on average than their straight-haired peers.
Our community alone spends an annual $1/2 BILLION on hair care. They create 15,000 pieces of content every week, and they constantly struggle with weather, frizz, body chemistry changes as well as with social feedback ranging from recruiters recommending straightened hair in order to be taken “seriously” in job interviews to millionaire matchmaker, Patti Stanger insisting guys don’t like girls with curly hair.
Every day is a new hair day. Hair does not define someone, but tied to hair are intangibles like identity, self esteem, confidence, and personality. It’s a big deal to a lot of people.”
Roose posted an update to his article to clarify: “My point about NaturallyCurly (which sells products and provides advice to curly-haired people of all races) was simply that a social network built around a single community of any type is, in general, a dicey proposition. The annals of Internet history are littered with niche sites that have lost out to more general hubs…. My criticism was of the idea of a social network for curly-haired people, not the influence or viability of the curly-hair market in general.”
NaturallyCurly.com – 1, NY Magazine-0
It’s interesting how personal style and social media have intersected. It’s also interesting to see how mainstream media seems to misunderstand the power and potential of sites that cater to this particular audience. As a naturally curly individual, I remember how I felt the first time I found quality products for my hair in Target…the same way I felt when I found YouTube channels, web forums, and even a Facebook group that existed to fill the void I was seeing in the beauty industry. And honestly, I was excited to see Viola Davis giving us fierce curls on the Oscar red carpet, and to see Oprah rocking them on her magazine’s cover! Maybe the tech industry will catch up too.