Sahar Saidi has had curly hair her whole life, and spent most of that life straightening and treating her hair to try to conform to the media’s idea of beauty.
But with the rise of social media, Saidi noticed a trend. People with curly hair were becoming more and more comfortable wearing their hair naturally and showing it off. It inspired her.
That’s how LUS Brands was born.
Short for “Love Ur Self,” LUS Brands creates and sells hair products made specifically for curly hair.
Users sign up by first identifying their hair type (wavy, curly, or kinky/coily) and then order their shampoo, conditioner and all-in-one.
But more importantly than the products themselves, LUS Brands has a relatively large customer service department focused on helping users understand how the products work and how to care for and style their curly hair.
“A customer service representative was the first position I hired for,” said founder and CEO Sahar Saidi. “It’s something we have to consciously invest in as the company grows. One-to-one customer service is not something that’s easily scalable, but it’s one of the big reasons we’ve been able to grow.”
Via social media, as well as resources on the web site like the LUS Blog and a video portfolio, LUS Brands is intently focused on giving people all the tools they need — not just the products, but information — on wearing their hair naturally and loving it.
LUS Brands was self-funded by Saidi, who previously worked as a strategy consultant after dropping out of college. In 2015, she obtained a double MBA from the University of Toronto and the University of St. Gallen, and put her hard-earned savings toward the launch of LUS Brands.
The company did more than $1 million in sales in its first year, seeing more than 80 percent gross margins on the product. In fact, LUS Brands has picked up enough steam to have run out of inventory, meaning items are currently available for pre-order.
But Saidi envisions that LUS Brands can be more than just a consumer-facing company. Salons, where many beauty products are sold, tend to be a stressful place for consumers. There is often a wide variety of products with no one specifically dedicated to help inform customers about different products. That said, salons have taken an interest in LUS Brands products, and the company is currently working to build an enterprise back-end that would let salons place wholesale orders.
Y Combinator has also taken notice of LUS Brands, with the company graduating from the accelerator in the coming weeks. This isn’t the first time YC has invested in a beauty brand, with Function of Beauty launching out of Y Combinator in 2015.