Student entrepreneur creates sustainable vegan hair accessories to cater to Black communities

The Uni of Leicester student wants to see more sustainable hair care in mainstream stores

An enterprising 22-year-old woman has created a vegan hair accessory business to help Black communities to look after their locks. Each item is hand-made, and entirely sustainable.

Business marketing student Damilola Olorunshola said: “I do everything. I am the owner, the seamstress, the marketer and it’s all done from the little corner in my room.”

Damilola started Made by YSD during the Covid pandemic after recognising that there was a gap in the market for a sustainable Black-owned hair accessory business. She makes each of her products by hand – a ‘tedious’ process she said, but one that she feels is vital to the Black community.

She told LeicestershireLive : “YSD stands for Yours Sincerely Damilola and back in the day, I used to have a blog with the same name, so when it came to creating my business I decided to use the same name. My yearning to display creativity started with my blog, so I merged the two to come up with the name.

“My business is one part sustainable – so being as sustainable as possible – and the other part focuses on beauty – what it looks like to protect and take care of your hair. Currently my business sells scrunchies, head wraps and bandanas.”

“Our staple product is our bamboo silk scrunchies, one of the very few scrunchies that are actually sustainable. Using bamboo silk is very good for all hair types as well as the environment, because it reduces shedding and it’s good for sensitive skin and a sensitive scalp.”

Damilola also credited the pandemic as a pivotal time for her business. She said: “The idea for Made by YSD started in the summer of 2020, but actually got up and running in 2021. One of the biggest blessings of the lockdown was time.

Made by YSD create sustainable head bands, headwraps and scrunchies (Image: Damilola Olorunshola)

“Me and my mum were having a random conversation during lockdown and she really pushed me to start. She reminded me that I now had time, I wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything, so it was the perfect opportunity to put all of my ideas and creativity to use.

“I used to get loads of compliments on my head wraps from friends – but little did they know that I used scraps of my mum’s old material. This was another big push for me, but I thought I could expand this further so I looked into what I could make that was easy, simple, and that would benefit everyone.

“Scrunchies reduce hair loss and help with tangling – especially Afro-type hair which is known to be quite hard to manage. As a black woman of Nigerian heritage, I know the struggle of looking after hair and how hard it can be.

“Creating an everyday product that makes people’s lives easier is important to me.”

She continued: “One of my business mottos is ‘we only have one price attached, and that is the price you pay for a product’. So sustainability really is at the core of what I do and I really want my business to be known as the go-to place to find sustainable hair accessories.

“You don’t see many hair accessory businesses looking after the planet and prioritising creating products that are environmentally friendly – and again that is at our core, and what makes us different. I actually want to release products like hair oils, which are good for the environment but are also good for hair.

“I’d love to see my products sold in major retailers like Boots and Superdrug, because we don’t always see many Black-owned businesses in mainstream shops. We definitely need more of that.”

“I think there is something so powerful about having an idea and a vision in your head and being able to bring it into fruition. I’ve done multiple shoots, released multiple collections and worked with models, and it all comes down to taking that leap of faith – so I want to show other young Black people that it is possible for them.”