Interview with Nibi Lawson, Founder at Kinky Apothecary

Kinky Apothecary is using AI and machine learning to solve issues faced by women with textured hair – particularly black women who spend 6x as much as our counterparts of other ethnicities in a desperate bid to find products that work for us.

We don’t just simplify the textured hair journey but elevate it, by getting to know our customers’ hair properties, lifestyle and environment through a short questionnaire, and then creating their personalised plan. This includes hair regimen tips as well as advice on the best products for them, which we conveniently deliver to their doorstep.
 
 
Kinky Apothecary (kinkyapothecary) - Profile | Pinterest
 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
I moved to Nigeria over 10 years ago and was shocked to discover that in a country where almost all women have naturally tightly textured hair, there were no products suitable for me. Most women preferred to chemically straighten their natural texture or hide it under wigs and weaves.

Spotting an obvious gap in the market, I set up Kinky Apothecary to not only supply products and educate, but also change the way other black women saw and felt about themselves.

Over the years as the natural haircare industry started to boom both in Nigeria and globally, I realised this was presenting a new problem of not being able to cut through the noise of the overcrowded market and figure out what products would work for each individual.

I realised that this problem was not limited to Nigeria but is a worldwide issue. Additionally, I realised the issue of accessibility to products in the UK (where I grew up and am now living again) and much of Europe is still very much a factor, so I set to work on our new platform using data we had been able to gather over 10 years in operation.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
Before the pandemic, we were very much focused on moving into brick + mortar. Through our social media and blog we had built a community who we often interacted with in real life via events and pop ups. We wanted to make that experience permanent and just before lockdown had signed a lease on our first physical space.

The pandemic forced us to rethink, and figure out how we could still bring that personalised service to our customer. We wanted to replicate the experience of our customers being able to speak to me or one of our other product experts before making a purchase, and initially trialled this through online consultations in early 2020 (a feature we’ve kept) before developing the quiz, and this substantially opened up our market.
 

What can we hope to see from Kinky Apothecary in the future?

 
We’re working very hard to introduce features to our platform that will essentially make it seem like having your personal hair consultant in your back pocket who our customers can access at any time of the day or night.

… and we’re still crossing our fingers about expanding our physical footprint in the next few years, once the pandemic is over.