Although scrunchies are an essential part of many hairstyling regimens, not all scrunchies can be used in the same way. Traditional hair ties were too small or made from breakage-prone fabrics, which is why they are not suitable for thick curls. Magdaline Hurtado was frustrated by the lack of texture-inclusive scrunchies and decided to switch from relaxers to natural hair. She says that many products she tried no longer worked for her hair, even hair ties, after she had fully switched to natural hair.
In the Dominican Republic, she started out as a self-helper and made a large silk scrunchie from scratch. She soon realized that she was on to something much bigger. Hurtado launched Hello Updo, a haircare brand that offers scrunchies for textured hair in 2020. The Dominican-American entrepreneur talks about her natural hair journey and how Hello Updo was launched.
- How has your journey with natural hair been?
Growing up, I was extremely self-conscious about my hair. I used to go to the salon every day and would get relaxers. We know that they do more harm than good. My Quinenera was my last relaxer. I promised myself that I would never use another chemical in my hair.
In high school, I began to embrace my natural hair. At the time, my hair didn’t curl. Instead, my hair was more of a mess. Although I can’t remember how I got out of my house that way, I am grateful I did. My hair took five years to return to its natural state. It was a long process that required patience and a lot of trial and error. My hair is my world today. It’s more than just hair. It’s part my history, identity, and pride. It is a badge of honor that I wear.
- Why did you decide to start Hello Updo?
I was unhappy with the lack of hair ties that could adjust my hair’s texture and volume so I created a silk scrunchie for me. This soon became Hello Updo’s most popular product, the Biggish.
The idea came to me while I was in the Dominican Republic. It was hot outside and I needed to get my curly hair out of my face. I snapped through quite a few hairties and then I wondered why no global industry offered hair ties for thicker and more textured hair types. I made my first Biggish in my Abuela’s kitchen a few weeks later. Little did I know that one scrunchie would launch my entrepreneurial journey. Since then, the Biggish has been sold a lot and shipped to numerous consumers and stores all over the country.
Hello Updo currently offers two silk scrunchies–Scrunchie 01 (our original medium fluff silk scrunchie) and Scrunchie 02 (oversized puffy fabric) in both “biggish” and “smallish” sizes. Each scrunchie is made in-house by my mom and me. She is my number one supporter.
- How has it been to build Hello Updo?
It has been a wonderful journey to build Hello Updo. It was both challenging and rewarding. Finding the will to push forward is the most difficult part. It’s not easy to start a business. It’s not a one-woman operation. Two years ago, I was a multitasker and finally got the chance to hire hardworking, passionate people to the Hello Updo staff.
These are not easy challenges. Sometimes, we must push through difficult moments for weeks, but when a customer leaves a glowing review saying how transformative a scrunchie can be, all emotions are thrown out of the window.
My mom has been a great supporter of Hello Updo, as well as journalists and customers. She also joined the team. For the brand’s success, she taught herself to sew. Without my mom, I don’t know where Hello Updo would go.
- What are your strategies for prioritizing sustainability in the brand?
Hello Updo is committed to protecting hair and the environment. I was determined to find the best packaging for Hello Updo. It would not only protect silk, but also reduce single-use plastic.
After much research, I decided that Hello Updo would put the scrunchies in glass jars to encourage customers to recycle after purchase. It has been amazing to see the variety of uses for these pots. These pots are now used as jewelry storage, snack jars and sunscreen jars. All of our marketing collateral and shipping boxes are made from recycled or recyclable materials. Hello Updo is committed to reducing waste.
- What are your company’s goals in the next few decades? Are you looking to expand your business into other hair accessories?
Hello Updo will soon be on the shelves at the nation’s largest stores. These shelves still have a lot of potential for brands to represent Black and Brown women and textured hair. I want us all to feel valued, even in high-end department shops. Stay tuned as we plan to expand into hair accessories in the near future.