Black Astrophysicist Makes History Again, This Time in Haircare

In 2018, Miona Short became the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics. Five years and one layoff later, she’s taking on the beauty industry with the launch of her company, Shukrah — and a first-to-market innovation.

Shukrah’s flagship product, the Carefree Comb, is a patent-pending wide-tooth comb that holds hair product in its spine and distributes it along the base of the comb in order to make washing, conditioning, and detangling faster and easier. People with coarse, thick, or Afro-textured tresses can now cut down their haircare times, consolidate steps in their haircare process, and bring the bulk of their hair routine outside the shower.

Short invented the comb in November 2016, during her grandfather’s untimely death from cancer at the age of 68. “I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to go to class or take midterms that week, and I definitely didn’t want to do my hair,” she recalls. She looked for tools that would allow her to detangle her hair quickly while applying her products but didn’t find anything available.

For the next seven years, the Chicago native would teach herself computer-aided design in order to produce different prototypes of her comb invention. She also learned business principles from watching popular television shows like Shark Tank and listening to business-related podcasts.

“Business school costs too much for me and I didn’t have any formal mentors, so I used a bunch of free media as kind of a scrappy map,” Short says, laughing.

The Carefree Comb concept would go on to win business competitions, including a grant from rapper turned investor Chamilloinaire. In 2019, Short took a job in tech to save money for her first production round and to learn what it was like to scale a business from the inside. Then, after being impacted by the mass layoffs of 2022, she decided to lean into building out her company.

“After being laid off, I knew I didn’t have the money to completely flesh out product development as a bigger company would. I could barely afford rent, much less afford multiple rounds of testing [contract manufacturer] prototypes with trial and error. That gets expensive real quick,” says Short. “I really only had one shot at making this work. I had to take a leap of faith. So here I am, hoping Shukrah has wings.”

After going viral on TikTok with a demonstration garnering half a million views, the rising CEO is seeing that the Carefree Comb taps into a deep need within the beauty market.

Short expects to have preorders for the Carefree Comb shipped out around Christmas 2023. For more details about the launch and Short’s journey, visit the official website at

Also, follow the brand @helloshukrah on FacebookInstagram, and TikTok.