Ngozi Opara, Founder and CEO Heat Free Hair, truly is the pioneer when it comes to the textured extensions category.
In 2012, Ngozi disrupted the $500 Billion black hair market by creating the very first 100% virgin hair extensions for natural textures. She identified a white space and sought to serve an underserved market for women with natural hair textures, which led to the unsurmountable success of her brand.
We spoke to Ngozi to hear from her firsthand about her journey to founding Heat Free Hair and the exciting innovations launching from the brand.
Before launching Heat Free Hair, Ngozi was no stranger to the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
In 2011, she was working as a Financial Analyst while also running a hair studio she opened on the side. During that year, she had an influx of clients looking to go natural, but experiencing breakage with the protective styling method of hair extensions that didn’t offer textures for their specific hair type. Ngozi knew there had to be a better solution.
“I decided to create a movement that would inspire women to embrace their natural hair textures, as well as give them more options through our products,” Ngozi explained. “So in 2012, I moved to China to study the entire hair manufacturing process, from start to finish. With this insider knowledge, I opened the Heat Free Hair Factory, an exclusive factory that would produce only the authentic textures known to Heat Free Hair extensions leading the brand to become a pioneer in the natural hair extensions market.”
Heat Free Hair’s products have revolutionized what hair styling options look like for women of color with natural and textured hair. This year, Ngozi is pushing the industry forward yet again with the launch of the first texture-tailored collection of haircare products and styling tool for all extensions wearers no matter the texture – The Perfect Extensions Kit (P.E.K.) and High Definition Curlbrush.
P.E.K. features three textured tailored kits with lightweight formulations that work to keep extensions looking fresh and healthy, no matter the texture, and regardless of your real hair type. The High Definition Curlbrush was created to simplify the detangling and styling process (an often rigorous and multi-step process for natural hair and extension wearers). The HD Curlbrush cuts out the need for multiple different tools with it’s dual-sided design that transform the look of curls.
Building the Brand
Because of Heat Free Hair’s uncompromising quality these innovations took 4 years in the making and massive consumer research before coming to fruition. “Hair extensions are not able to absorb products the same way real hair does so the haircare approach needs to be customized accordingly,” Ngozi explains. “That led me to create a solution for Heat Free Hair customers to care for our hair extensions, and through that research I started thinking about the hair extension market as a whole (all hair textures) and how there wasn’t a textured tailored product approach to caring for hair extensions by texture.”
When it comes to disrupting a category and building a brand that can stand the test of time, Ngozi has valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to disrupt a current category of offerings. “It’s important to assess multiple angles to ensure you’re delivering true innovation. You should look at
parallel categories, what exists in those categories, identify what is wrong with what currently exists, and who’s being left out by what exists. This gives you the framework to come up with a solution that’s serving those left out or a problem that hasn’t been properly addressed in a parallel market.”