Let’s talk about Olew, which is such a wonderful name by the way, so tell me how, why and when did it all start?
After years of straightening my hair, due to the pressure to conform and hating what I thought it looked like naturally, in 2012 I decided to ditch the straighteners, and begin the journey to embrace my natural hair. This journey involved experimenting with a range of products, however I found most didn’t give me the results I wanted. I also couldn’t find products with natural ingredients in them – a lot of the high street products contain harmful chemicals!
I decided to take the matter into my own hands and create my own line of natural curly hair products. I took inspiration from ‘The $100 dollar start up’ by Chris Guillebeau and, with just £100, started the project from my kitchen. The Olew product range is still proudly made and packaged in my kitchen in London, and always tested on my own curls!
Why do you think there are not enough suitable products for curly hair, is it a trend maybe we prefer straight hair?
I think people are still under pressure to conform to straight hair, therefore people with curly hair might be looking for products that will accommodate this. The market responds to consumer demands, so I think that’s why there are a lot more products for straight hair, however we are starting to see a change in more ‘curlies’ embracing their natural hair!
Why is it important to invest in good hair products? What’s the difference that you have seen from someone using a cheaper product to a more expensive product?
The main difference is the quality of ingredients! Often you find that cheaper products have ‘nasty’ ingredients in them like parabens and sulphates which are often known for stripping the hair of its natural moisture. You want to find products that don’t include those ingredients in them – that’s the most important thing. Also, with Olew especially, less is more when using the whole range due to the high-quality ingredients that we use which is great as the products last a lot longer than their cheaper counter parts.
What other products are useful for those that have curly hair?
Satin accessories are really great for curly hair, and I think they are often overlooked as products that can benefit your hair. We have the Olew Satin Sleep Bonnet which is wonderful for retaining more hair moisture overnight to keep your curls hydrated, speeding up your morning hair routine. We also have Satin Headbands and Scrunchies with premium satin fabric which glide perfectly in and out of your hair to help reduce tangles, breakage, frizz and disturbing your fabulous curl pattern!
As a young female entrepreneur, what advice would you give to students currently studying or considering to start their own business?
Patience, persistence and passion are key! Nothing really happens overnight, but if you work hard enough, it will pay off and you will get there. I would also say just to go for it! Don’t let anyone tell you something isn’t possible and always have confidence in yourself.
Like all of us we have been stuck at home during lockdown so what has been the challenge when launching a product like this? For example as we have no social event or gathering to go to, we can’t showcase our hair or outfit.
I think the one thing we have gained this year is a little more time for ourselves (unless you are running a business!) as we haven’t been able to go out. People are taking more time to look into products, especially online, and find ways to pamper themselves and make themselves feel good. I saw sales rocket in the first UK-wide Lockdown, so I can’t help but think perhaps this year has been quite good for businesses like mine.
Tell us a little bit more about the Welsh heritage and the influence it has for your brand.
I am from Aberystwyth and grew up in Wales before moving to London. Olew is actually the welsh word for oil – I wanted to call it that to pay homage to my Welsh roots. As Welsh is my first language I wanted to open up the conversation with others who may not know that Wales has its own language and culture, and so far I think I have certainly done that!
What products will you be launching soon?
We actually just launched The Olew Curl Defining Gel at the start of this month! The gel is infused with maca root extract, a complex which stimulates hair growth and promotes hair health, this product will detangle, nourish and add shine to your curls, all at once! The product also prevent moisture loss to drastically reduce damaged and split ends, resulting in beautiful nourished curls with definition and a medium hold without that ‘crispy’ feeling – something we all like to avoid!