Student entrepreneur creates sustainable vegan hair accessories to meet the needs of black communities

An enterprising 22-year-old has started a vegan hair accessories business to help black communities take care of their hair. Each item is handmade and fully durable.

Business Marketing student Damilola Olorunshola said, “I do everything. I am the owner, the seamstress, the sales person and everything is done from the small corner of my room.”

Damilola launched Made by YSD during the Covid pandemic after recognizing there was a gap in the market for a sustainable black-owned hair accessories business. She makes each of her products by hand — a “tedious” process, she said, but which she says is vital to the black community.

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She told LeicestershireLive: “YSD stands for Yours Sincerely Damilola and at the time I had a blog with the same name so when it came to setting up my business I decided to use the same name. My desire to get creative started with my blog, so I merged the two to come up with the name.

“My business is one part sustainable – so as sustainable as possible – and the other part is focused on beauty – what it looks like to protect and care for your hair. Currently my business sells scrunchies, scarves and bandannas.

“Our core product is our bamboo silk hair scrunchies, one of the few truly sustainable hair scrunchies. Using bamboo silk is very good for all hair types as well as the environment as it reduces the hair loss and is good for sensitive skin and scalp.

Made by YSD to create long-lasting headbands, headbands and scrunchies

Damilola also called the pandemic a pivotal time for his business. She said: “The idea for Made by YSD started in the summer of 2020 but actually came together in 2021. One of the biggest blessings of lockdown has been the weather.

“My mum and I were having a random chat during lockdown and she really pushed me to get started. She reminded me that I now have time, I wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything, so it was the perfect opportunity to put all my ideas and creativity to use.

“I used to get lots of compliments on my head wraps from friends – but they didn’t know I was using leftovers from my mum’s old stuff. It was another big push for me, but I thought I could expand that further, so I looked into what I could do was easy, simple, and it would benefit everyone.

“Scrunchies reduce hair loss and help with tangling – especially Afro-type hair which is known to be quite difficult to manage. As a black woman of Nigerian descent, I know the difficulty of caring for hair and how difficult it can be.

“Creating an everyday product that makes people’s lives easier is important to me.”

She continued, “One of the mottos of my business is ‘we only have one price, and that’s the price you pay for a product.’ So sustainability is really at the heart of what I do and I really want my business to be known as the place to go for sustainable hair accessories.

“You don’t see a lot of hair accessory companies looking out for the planet and prioritizing creating eco-friendly products – and again, that’s our core and what makes us different In fact, I want to release products like hair oils, which are good for the environment but also good for the hair.

“I would love to see my products sold at big retailers like Boots and Superdrug because we don’t always see a lot of black-owned businesses in mainstream stores. We definitely need more.”

“I think there’s something so powerful about having an idea and a vision in your head and being able to bring it to life. I’ve done multiple shoots, released multiple collections, and worked with models, and it all comes down to taking that leap of faith – so I want to show other young black people that it’s possible for them.

David R. Brewer