Women of Wonder Interview with the Founder of Richualist, Dawn Myers
Women have made an undeniable impact on the world, paving the way for future generations to break barriers and shatter stereotypes. Often in the face of discrimination and adversity, women have trail blazed by building brands and achieving greatness through innovation, leadership and inspiration.
We celebrate Women's History Month by featuring the remarkable female founders whose brands you can find at SHOWFIELDS. Tune in as we interview our Women of Wonder!
What inspired you to start your own business?
DM: As a black woman, I felt like there are many needs our community has that are not being addressed by some of the larger companies. In most cases, the only way to get those needs addressed is if we do it ourselves. It is in that spirit that I created Richualist.
What makes Richualist so unique?
DM: We create hair tech that makes styling highly textured hair faster, easier, and more convenient than ever before. This is about way more than just beauty for us. Hair is an emotional and logistical pain point in the lives of many women with highly textured hair. I won’t delve too deeply into the socio-historical context around euro-centric beauty standards and how that creates a physical and mental burden on women with textured hair (and women of color in particular). Suffice it to say, many of us grew up struggling logistically and socially either straightening our hair to fit a narrow definition of beauty or wrestling with our natural hair without many commercial solutions.
We’re changing all of that. With our all-in-one styling tool, The Mint by Richualist, we empower women of color to embrace their natural hair by cutting styling time, increasing convenience, and minimizing the invisible pain points in textured and ethnic hair care.
The Mint by Richualist, streamlines the process of detangling and applying product to highly textured hair, making the process faster, easier, and more convenient. The Mint leverages a curl safe warming mechanism and renewable styling pods (think Keurig K-Cups for hair creams and gels) to gently warm your favorite products to encourage penetration, hydration, slip, and hair health. Textured hair doesn't have to be hard, and we're making it so with culturally informed engineering that improves the user experience and increases portability in natural styling routines.
Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently when you were first starting out?
DM: When I first started, I thought I could get our product to market within 6 months. I had no idea how much goes into getting a tech-enabled product manufactured, and that 6 months turned into 5 years. I don’t lament the time it’s taken to commercialize our featured product, however, because that lag time gave me the opportunity to fundraise, test, reiterate, redesign, and improve The Mint until it was truly ready for launch.
I know how emotional hair issues and hair care are for women in this segment, and I really strive to serve them and provide deep value with this product. While it has taken more time to get here, it’s worth it every time we test on women and get a visceral, emotional reaction that signals the impact this technology is primed to make.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your own brand?
DM: It has been a joy building a brand that brings technology into the lives of women of color, imparts a sense of ease and improves their quality of life. Every aspect of this brand from the colors, to give packaging, to the imagery is designed to give this consumer what they don’t get anywhere else.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a female-founded company?
DM: Women’s problems tend not to be taken seriously. This makes everything harder; fundraising, distribution, and manufacturing. Women founders, and Black women founders, in particular, receive a tiny fraction of the funding that the majority of founders receive. Producing tech-enabled solutions costs money, and many women founders are putting themselves and their families in financial peril to build solutions for their communities because venture funding isn’t available to them. This issue alone deserves its own feature-length article, but what I will say is that funding women is good business and this trend has to change.
Do you have a mantra that you live by?
DM: Marcus Aurelius, one of the most famous Stoic philosophers said "the obstacle is the way". What he meant was that opportunity lies in impediments. I love that quote because it so fully embodies what we're doing here today with The Mint by Richualist.
The very reason my company has such revenue-generating potential is because of the decades, generations, and centuries of belittling and dehumanizing attitudes toward textured hair. As a result, we have obsessed over our hair and spent unfathomable sums of money to feel pride and confidence in our natural kinks and curls. That very cultural obsession is also our key to wealth generation. We don't need to go outside of our communities to seek validation - the capital is right here in front of us. If we want to improve our communities, create jobs, and build wealth, we have to learn how to innovate around our own problems and create our own solutions.
What tips do you have for other women who would like to start their own businesses?
DM: Identify your strengths and your mission and lean into those unwaveringly. Often times when we consider new endeavors, we focus on all of the things we feel like we cannot do. Instead, we need to focus on what we are great at and build out from there.
If someone is new to your brand, what is the first product they should try?
DM: The Mint by Richualist is our flagship product. The Mint by Richualist, streamlines the process of detangling and applying product to highly textured hair, making the process faster, easier, and more convenient. The Mint leverages a curl safe warming mechanism and renewable styling pods (think Keurig K-Cups for hair creams and gels) to gently warm your favorite products to encourage penetration, hydration, slip, and hair health. Textured hair doesn't have to be hard, and we're making it so with culturally informed engineering that improves the user experience and increases portability in natural styling routines.