You cannot discuss beauty standards and beauty trends among women of colour in the last two decades without talk about the massive conceptual shift in what is considered conventional beauty by black women.
As more black women experiment and reclaim their natural hair, an industry that exists to cater to this new market has sprung up and is thriving.
Women in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular have embraced this new lease, experimenting with their hair and redefining beauty standards. The industry that has grown around them made nearly $1.1 billion offering natural and synthetic products to meet this demand. Adding an interesting tech angle to this beauty explosion are Priscilla Hazel, Esther Olatunde and Cassandra Sarfo, three software developers from West Africa. Working out of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in East Legon, Ghana, these three women (two Ghanaian, one Nigerian) have teamed to create Tress, a mobile app dedicated to black hair.
Tress serves as a repository of natural and alternate hair styles for women of colour. It also is a database of hairstylists and other hair service providers and retailers across Africa and the world, helping ease accessibility for women to solutions for women with difficult hair. Tress is the newest in a line of startups supported by Meltwater institute geared at creating homegrown solutions to problems unique to contemporary Africans.
It has taken the group about eight months to go from concept to prototype product, and with social media integration via Instagram, the startup has had sizable impact in Ghana. Tress officially launched at the Social Media Week Lagos event in February, during one of the beauty panels.
Nigeria’s culture of good natured showmanship and its large population make it the perfect test market for Tress. We cannot wait to see how big this app grows, it is major. The app is currently only available on the Android OS and will make the leap to the Apple iOS later in the year.
You can download Tress on the Google Play store