Seeing a need, Montreal friends create new business that's kind to Black hair
Young women from the West Island are producing satin-lined hoodies
After spending hours styling their hair, these girls say it can be frustrating to see all that work undone if there's a chill in the air and they have to cover up.
"By wearing a regular hoodie I risk completely ruining the style," said Kelly Lacroix.
"Because the cotton that's in the actual hood of a regular hoodie pulls at your hair," she explained. "It makes it frizzy and takes away all the hard work."
The solution: satin-lined hoods.
The challenge: they're not easy to find in Quebec.
"I was trying to buy one from the States but it was impossible. So I told [my friends] let's do it 'cause Montreal doesn't have that," said Tatiyana Frazer, who studies youth and adult correctional intervention at John Abbott College.
After realizing they weren't the only ones who need clothing that's friendly to Black hair in Montreal, the group of five friends started Kind to Curls, a collection of satin-lined hoodies, offered in a variety of colours.
Frazer explains that the silky hoods are delicate on the hair, prevent breakage, and help keep hairstyle styles intact.
To create the business, Lacroix's basement was transformed into a workshop.
Each member of the group had a task.
For graphic design student Tarah Grant, it was helping with the marketing and logo design.
"[It] has given me a way to really practice and apply what I learned [in school] and make use of it in the real world," said Grant.
Not just for Black hair
The young women say being able to offer the lined hoodies to others has been rewarding.
"I think it's important especially in Montreal and a small community like the West Island to make sure word gets out for younger kids and older women and just to make sure it's available for everyone," said Concordia University therapeutic recreation student, Keisha Moore.
The goal of the business is to also educate women about the benefits of using gentle fabrics on their hair.
"I think the importance is we're giving more variety to women with our hair type but not only our hair type but all women," said Lacroix.
And they say being able to work together collaboratively, mostly over Zoom, on this project has been their favourite part.
"Because we've been in quarantine it is hard to see others, so actually having this idea and working on it with the other girls was really nice, because it gave us something to do" said Catherine Okeke, Human Relations student at Concordia.
The group says after receiving such positive responses, they're looking to expanding their project in the future.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.