At Beauty Roots, Bustle talks with diverse creators in the beauty industry and how their legacy has impacted their businesses and routines. Here, luca hair Founder Moyo Tendai explains how her African ancestry influenced her hair journey and the direction of the game-changing brand.
Like any beauty lover, Ruka Hair founder Moyo Tendai clearly remembers one of her first beauty purchases: a shimmery eyeshadow palette. I quickly learned that the eyeshadow wasn’t for my complexion, but it was still a very significant purchase. It was the starting point for Moyo to learn about the tones and textures that complement her own skin tone. The same thing happened when Moyo started exploring skin care. She enjoyed trying all of her different formulas until she found the one that worked best for her.
But when it comes to hair care, the journey has never been so much fun. When Moyo was little, her mother took care of her hair and tended her tight curly hair in the living room of her South London home. I didn’t. And it wasn’t easy.
“I loved the closeness and comfort of my mother’s touch as she performed the ritual of gently brushing and braiding my hair,” says Moyo. “But when I got older and started exploring chemical treatments to make my hair more manageable, disaster struck. It influenced her decision to accept.
Quality products, expertise, and a lack of representation within the mainstream led Moyo, like many women with afro-textured hair, to YouTube. On YouTube, members of the natural hair community shared styling methods, ingredients, and inspiring images.
But Moyo soon ran into another problem. She found it difficult to purchase extensions that matched the texture of her natural strands. That meant there were limitations when it came to recreating the length and volume of the style she wanted to create.After years of disappointment and frustration, she decided to take her problem into her own hands. . In 2021, she turned from her career as a strategy consultant to launch her groundbreaking ethical extension her brand Ruka Hair.
“With Luca, we wanted to bring back the joy of exploring black women’s hair from the beginning,” says Moyo. Below, she details her aspirations for the brand. This includes hopes to inspire future generations to cherish curls and coils.
What is your earliest memory of caring for your hair?
My first experience having my hair professionally done was quite traumatic. My mother took me to the hairdresser, who was struggling with my long, thick, tightly curly hair. It made me cry and begged them to stop hurting me. It was the same situation in London, Wiltshire and Nigeria. So, of course, it was not what we expected. I could only relax when my family was taking care of my hair. The comfort, trust and safety that surrounds the moment is what we wanted to bring to the Ruka experience.
What inspired you to launch Ruka Hair from your own experience in hair care?
When I was younger, I thought that texturing my hair would take less effort and give me more options. Unfortunately, during that time, I didn’t have access to the expertise and support that my friends from different cultures had when it came to hair care. was in the same situation. My colleague’s experience of going to the salon and getting hair extensions was very simple and seamless, but finding quality extensions to match textured hair can be a difficult experience and there is a lot to be found in the products that are not offered. It was their frustration that I took matters into my own hands and guided Luca from idea to business.
Where did the name Luke come from?
“Luka” comes from the Shona language, one of the main languages spoken in Zimbabwe. It means “to tie hair” or “to braid, thread, weave”. A lot of African identity has its roots in expressing yourself through hair styling, and it was definitely something I experienced as a child, as my mother used to braid my hair into single braids, cornrows and twists. These traditional looks and techniques continue to be passed down from generation to generation, along with the intimacy of knitting, from the brand name, to the mission to keep the spirit and joy of black hair alive, to the formulation of Ruka Hair. , affects everything. A perfume that refreshes and moisturizes extensions.
How did discovering natural hair movement affect your confidence, and how did it affect the concept behind your brand?
YouTube has always been a great source of knowledge and inspiration, especially while incorporating my natural hair texture. It wasn’t. The debate about whether texturing treatments and hair extensions could be explored while still being “natural” felt contradictory and distracting. Hair extensions have always been a part of African culture, traditionally styling with thread and hair. Wool has been used. However, the hair extension industry has long reflected Western beauty ideals, giving rise to the notion that wearing extensions means you are not loving yourself. Protect your hair through our products.
Luca was launched thanks to an investment from a prominent angel investor. How did the idea for the latest round of crowdfunding come about?
Despite the purchasing power, customers have been shut out of the conversation about what they want and need in hair care products. With the Ruka Cocreator Crowdfund, we want to create a community where consumers sitting at the table can share their thoughts and hold us accountable. It also means Ruka will be able to own the entire manufacturing process. This means we can maintain standards of safety, quality and compliance in an industry that is sadly unregulated. Brands stay away from consumers who use their products every day.
After a series of successful pop-ups, Ruka recently launched with Selfridges. Why is having such a physical presence so important for brands?
Black women have been overlooked in the hair care industry for years. Despite the costs and vulnerabilities surrounding the experience, hair extensions purchases are being pushed down the back alley. I’m proud to witness the excitement of seeing it deliberately represented in an authoritative, attention-grabbing environment. They also love getting advice from sales consultants and trichologists without being judged or disrespected, which is not always the case when buying extensions.