I’m really excited about this new local brand called Kimberly Grace! It’s a new haircare product for black women that focuses on preventing hair loss and stimulating growth. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to basic requirements for black haircare products and I’m amazed no one else has thought of doing this before!
In my last rant, I complained about the fact that, 1) black haircare products smell like overripe frut, and 2) the packaging and those awful colours the manufacturer think appeal to us… you can read my rant here.
When I was still breastfeeding, I experienced dramatic hair line loss. For just under a year, I searched everywhere for a product that didn’t smell offensive. In fact, one I did find I could actually only use while my husband was away. Yes, it was that bad. You can read that review here. But besides babies depleting all your essential nutrients, there’s the trouble with braids, cornrows and weaves eating away at your hairline and causing hair breakages and thinning. Here’s you answer…
I spoke to founding partner, Kim Feitelberg, who developed the product with Robert Grace. The way she spoke about what has been her pet project for the past five years, got me really pumped and I’ve started using it. Will be posting my review after a few months of use.
Here’s the interview I did with her where she gives me a bit of background about the product, the research that’s gone into it, what the key ingredients are and how to get it.
Founding Partners, Kimberly Grace
* Kim Feitelberg is currently the Strategic Planning Director and a member of the board at Ogilvy Cape Town. In her 17-year career, she has worked locally and abroad developing strategies for many “famous” brands across diverse blue chip companies, including: Johnson & Johnson (Asia-Pacific region), Unilever, Nestle, Coca-Cola, Mars Corp, Cadbury, Kraft, Heinz, SAB, Cape Talk, Castrol and Adcock Ingram to name a few. Kim is passionate about all things entrepreneurial and loves clever, new ideas in whatever form. She also loves dance and musicals. Kim has 3 kids under the age of 7 and is always trying to find some spare ‘dream’ time.
* Robert Grace is currently Managing Partner Strategy at M&C Saatchi Abel developing brand and communication strategies for the likes of Edgars, AVI, MWEB, Heineken. Previously he was a Senior Consultant for UK based group 5one, which, essentially, works with leading retailers to help optimize their loyalty programs. Here Robert was the project lead on the business case and concept development for PnP Smart Shopper loyalty programme. Outside of his day job, Robert is the ‘go-to-guy’ on all things pertaining to la dolce vita – from restaurants to hotels to hot new brands to fashion. He has great personal style, and fabulous taste and he is genuinely a lovely person – you’ll never hear a nasty word from those lips. He’s getting married this year.
So why a black haircare product? Walking down the shopping aisle one day, we were struck by how un-inspiring the brands in the Black hair care category were, and how dated and ugly the packaging is. The category is treated like a niche player with, what we’ve come to call ‘apartheid’ names (Black Like Me; Dark & Lovely). Or, international brands have decided to capitalize on the Black market opportunity and stuck a Black celeb image on the picture in an effort to appeal to Black South African women! This is 75% of the ‘heads’ in South Africa – not a niche segment – and there was just nothing on the shelf that could make a woman feel beautiful and pampered. This was our initial observation. Subsequently, we also learned that it’s not only the brand image that is lacking, but the product quality in this category is also often below par.
We saw this as a great opportunity to create a new brand that is high quality, fabulous and relevant. A brand that makes women look good and feel good. And, based on the size and level of interest in hair in this country, it’s obviously also a very viable business opportunity.
Research? The product has been about 5 years in development. Upfront, we ran a series of consumer focus groups in JHB and Cape Town to sense check our initial thinking and to fully understand the main hair problems that Black women are facing. At this stage, we were considering a whole product range, but it got overwhelming and we decided to focus on the one that would make the most difference to women.
As our expertise is marketing and not manufacturing, we brought in some professionals to help develop the product. The key task in developing the range was to find state-of-the-art, active ingredients (wherever they are in the world) that could make a noticeable difference to women’s hair. A wide range of active ingredients were evaluated and compared and the most effective ingredients were selected – this involved a process of to-ing and fro-ing for a while until we were happy.
Sensory elements (feel, smell etc) were tested in a mini-trial of friends and colleagues. We have had no formal in-use trials, but we have been in a few salons for a few months and we are getting excellent feedback. We have brought a tricologist (hair loss specialist) on board as a consultant and she is very impressed with the results she is seeing (even on her own hair).
Why not import? It actually never crossed our minds. I guess, in hindsight, it’s because we wanted to feel in control of the product quality. And also, what country would know more about ‘Afro’ type hair care than this one!
How long did it take to formulate? About 6 months. Our brief to the developer was to “raise the bar” on whatever is currently available in the market. That’s why we refer to Kimberly Grace as a ‘revolution’ in black hair care – it might sound like ‘marketing jargon’, but it’s not an over-statement – the formulation is substantially superior to anything else out there for this market.
Boast-worthy ingredients: Where to start? Have you ever seen such a long list of ingredients! A formulation is made up of raw materials from 3 categories: base ingredients (act as a carrier); active ingredients (added for a specific activity / effect) and functional ingredients (e.g. fragrance). There’s a lot to talk about in regarding the ingredients that were selected, as each part of the formulation was so carefully considered. However, to keep the information digestible, we generally talk about 3 ‘power’ ingredients:
- Follicusan: stimulates cellular function in the hair follicles and scientifically proven to counter disturbance in the natural growth cycle.
- A Vitamin B3 derivative: Stimulates growth
- Biosil Basics: a protein compound that helps to build hair
We have also included Omegas and a combination of 5 essential oils to fight moisture loss and scalp irritation. All active ingredients are at effective levels – we don’t just include them so we can ‘spin’ and make claims. And importantly, there are none of the baddies (preservatives, alcohol, TEA etc) that one finds in so many haircare products.
Does it work? Of course. Seriously, we have had some amazing results. People think that their hair issues are un-workable, especially when it comes to hair loss, but hair really can be dramatically improved. Customers have sent in photos to show us their re-growth. And we are busy with a formal ‘Proof Project’ – getting a few women to trial the product and documenting results with photos. We are busy recruiting for the project.
With proper, regular use, customers should see results in about 3 weeks or so. And it might be beneficial to simultaneously boost the body with a good multi-vitamin (especially the vitamin product for hair).
Why the name ‘KimberlyGrace’? The name is obviously a mix of our names, and Kimberly Grace was originally the business name (not the brand name) until the packaging design agency fell in love with it. We didn’t consciously reject the idea of giving the brand an African identity – but not everything made here needs to shout ‘African’, to be relevant and desirable in this market. We are proud of being locally manufactured (although many ingredients are imported), but if you consider the big brand names in fashion and beauty – they tend to cue their founders and not their country of origin.
Buy? Kimberlygrace.co.za, and we’ll deliver free within SA. We are in a number of salons in Cape Town and JHB, and stockist will shortly be on our website.
Contact T: 082 412 7727 / F: 086 671 4599/ firstname.lastname@example.org