The Interview: Badria Ahmed, founder Holy Curls, on the brand's inclusive approach to curls
Holy Curls was launched by Badria Ahmed in 2019. After a series of frustrating hair experiences in Sweden (which is where she was raised), she went natural at the age of 21. Ahmed describes the transition as a "journey of self-exploration". During this time, she learnt about the structure and composition of her curl type and how to take care of it. She also started to use self-made mixtures in her hair as she couldn’t find products that moisturised her tight curls. Before launching Holy Curls, Ahmed was a copywriter and while helping other brands tell their stories, she decided to create her own.
To ensure the brand was ready for launch, Ahmed spent two years on the development phase. “I wasn’t afraid to start again if I felt a product wasn’t ready to launch to the public,” she says. The process involved working with a team of trichologists to develop products that were science-backed and superior in performance. They also had an extensive testing phase to make sure that each formulation worked across every single curl type and porosity type. “Getting feedback from people in the 'real world' with unique hair needs and concerns was invaluable in creating Holy Curls,” she says.
From her own personal hair experience, Ahmed was able to identify a gap in the market for a brand that was inclusive in its approach and catered to every single curl type. She also noticed that there was an undeniable lack of education in the curl care space. “The majority of mainstream brands for textured hair were SKU heavy and were launching the same type of product multiple times – there wasn’t much to differentiate between the varying ranges. I felt that a lot of products were rushed to market without nuance and limited R&D,” she says.
With Holy Curls, Ahmed’s goal was to strip back and focus on bringing a product to market that had been tested extensively across varying porosities, densities and curl patterns. She also wanted the brand to focus on education and to empower customers to become their very own curl specialist and to speak to the brand conscious shopper. “It was important to me that the products were not only superior in terms of performance, but also appealing in terms of aesthetics,” she says.
Holy Curls’ target audience is anyone with wavy, curly and coily hair types, regardless of their ethnicity, age and gender. When the brand launched, customers were taken aback by the minimal product assortment. Its target consumer is someone who had been used to having a curl routine with many steps that they may have perceived as a limitation. “Through education and ‘how to’ video tutorials, our customers are behind the idea that less is more when it comes to curl care. It’s a myth that lots of products need to be used to care for curly hair,” she says. The brand’s hero product is the bestselling and award-winning 03 Cream. The cream is formulated with baobab oil, coconut oil, shea butter and essential oils that keep curls moisturised all day long. “Our customers love how slippery it is. It can also be used as a pre-shampoo detangler,” she says.
The brand’s latest launch is the 06 Oil Serum, a product that was two years in the making and has a unique hybrid formulation that comprises baobab, jojoba, rosemary leaf and marula oils. It provides all the benefits of an oil without the grease and leaves hair with a beautiful, silky feel once applied. “It’s a multi-use product. It can be used as a primer on dripping wet hair, as a sealant after your styling routine and as a refresher to add moisture to the hair in between washes and as a scalp treatment,” she says.
To make beauty effective and accessible for all, the brand ensures their price points are affordable. As their products have a high percentage of active ingredients, a little goes a very long way. Understanding that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to elevating the customer experience has been key to Holy Curls’ success. The brand has created a Routine Finder on their website that gives consumers a step-by-step routine to suit their individual texture type. “Education is lacking in the curl care space and as a brand, we want to focus on bringing education to the forefront. The Routine Finder helps customers de-mystify and unlearn hair habits that are inhibiting their hair’s full potential to grow and flourish,” she says.
Quality over quantity is part of the brand’s DNA. It doesn’t compromise on the quality of their ingredients, so it don’t cut corners, which means it has to make some tough decisions which might result in the delay of a product launch. “We believe in the slow beauty philosophy and we’ll only bring products to market if we feel they’ll bring a real benefit to our customers,” she says.
Ahmed predicts that beauty and wellness will be combined more than ever in 2023 and 2024. “As people become more attuned to their inner wellbeing, hair professionals will have to integrate wellness into their practices. A consultation won’t be just about hair but about personalisation - where the customer is and where they’d like to be, wellness-wise. This is where I see the industry heading,” she says. Her advice to anyone who wants to get into the beauty industry is to stay true to the vision you have and be patient. “Things will take time, but if you’re resilient and clear on your why, you will get there!” she says.
So what’s next for Holy Curls? The brand is in the process of revolutionising the hair care industry by encouraging hair conscious consumers to forgo the typing system that was launched by Andre Walker in 1997 in favour of their new curl typing chart. It believes that the typing system has become a one-size-fits-all system that leaves a lot of customers confused. Holy Curls’ chart takes much more into consideration including porosity, pattern and density, all of which should be fully understood by those with textured hair before cultivating a hair care routine. “We also have some exciting product innovations and collaborations in the pipeline that we can’t wait to share with the world,” she says. The brand is currently going through a 600-door rollout with Thirteen Lune x JC Penney in the US and is continuing to grow into a household brand in both Europe and the US.
For more information about Holy Curls, please visit the brand’s website.