Autumn Yarbrough, NU Standard,

How Autumn Yarbrough Is Building On Family’s Pro-Line Legacy With Own Haircare Venture, NU Standard

She grew up in the haircare business and the legacy of entrepreneurship.

Autumn Yarbrough, founder of NU Standard haircare is looking to revitalize the “textured hair” community. Her foundation in the industry is solid. Yarbrough’s family contributions to haircare is cemented in the the Black consciousness. Granddaughter of Comer Joseph Cotrell Jr., founder of Pro-Line Hair Products, and daughter of Renee Cottrell Brown, inventor of Just For Me brands, Yarbrough is Black Haircare royalty.

Yarbrough spoke with BLACK ENTERPRISE about how her family’s path influenced her future. The ability to observe production of Pro-Line products from start to finish inspired her at a young age. She was honored to play a role in the creation and implementation of the Just For Me campaigns created by her “marketeer mom,” and was even one of the iconic young girls on the Just For Me box. She is now the owner and founder of NU Standard haircare. While expanding her family’s legacy she is also creating a new one just for her.

Tell the BE audience about yourself and your mission. 

My purpose is to make sure that the Black community and textured community are no longer left out; are no longer last in line when it comes to hair. I want to continue to push everything to the edge and disrupt the industry in a positive way, really solving a lot of our pain points.

You come from an entrepreneurial family. Did you always want to follow this path?

Yes. I was that weird kid. I would go down the aisles looking at new products. I loved being a part understanding how products were made all the way down to the manufacturing, to packaging supplies, understanding suppliers, ingredients all of those things. I was very fortunate that my grandfather, actually, had a manufacturing plant.

The Jerry Curl and Just For Me products were innovative additions to Black culture. How does Nu Standard expand on haircare innovation? 

The innovation of NU Standard is exactly what it means, a new standard in the industry. We focus on how hair really works on the inside then bring the science into it.

We love traditional methods but it’s important as we advance to make sure we’re bringing along the science and focus on a lot of our pain points — which is the hair loss, the hair breakage.

Tell us more about alleviating pain points.

The pain points, the biggest one is wanting to make sure that we’re included in beauty in the proper manner. Not just through marketing and showing a good picture of us with our hair done but actually the products are being made with us in mind at the very beginning of the creation. That part.

Also, focusing on hair loss. That part.

Day-to-day demands for women. That part.

And then also focusing on a big one, dryness.

Your product comes in the form of a bar. Can you tell us how this makes a difference in quality?

It’s a one-wash bar and then that conditioner bar which we call the “butter bar.” It’s a rinse-out or leave-in. We realized that it makes it easy to travel and easy to use. The concentrated ingredients are absolutely safe even to leave in. We have the appropriate butter so they are not endocrine disruptors. The ingredients are not making any hormonal changes if you’re leaving it in your hair.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned as a grandchild and child of entrepreneurs?

Fail fast.

Build a proper infrastructure through early-on failures to be able to weather the storm. If you learn quickly where the failures are, then you will know where your successes are. Embrace that failure is not a bad term and it’s not a permanent term.

Use failing moments, embrace them, learn from them, and pivot; don’t be ashamed that you’re failing.

Entrepreneurship is an infinite game. There is no long game and definitely no short game. 

If you could give your children advice about entrepreneurship what would it be — not coming from the businesswoman, coming from their mom? 

My mother gave me advice. It was a beautiful gift. Integrity. My mother has always had integrity in business, her life, her friendships, as a wife, as a mother, and as a diehard marketeer. All I can ask my daughter and my son to do for me is to live their life with integrity. It will serve you. It will outlive your life and it will help your children’s children. Look where it’s landed me.

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