In the spirit of Clark Atlanta University’s widely known motto “find a way or make one,” Rahya Kelley, a student at Olivet College, has found one—a vending machine—to bring hair care products to her remote campus.
With a Black population that makes up a nearly one-fifth of its student body, NBC News reported that Kelley wanted to provide an outlet for the students whose hair she services to get the essentials they need for their upkeep.
In a partnership with Beauty Genie, a recently established vending machine company for atypical products like edge control gel and bonnets, Kelly was able to work with students in the Hiram Archer Student Success Academy to get the vending machine to the Michigan-based school.
The vending machines will be available campus starting in August, with Olivet College being the inaugural school in its rotation. Black hair care products will no longer have to be found at students’ hometowns or the closest Walmart that is beyond walking distance.
Even so, the stores available within driving range from the school often do not carry all the hair care items needed. In fact, according to the one of the founders at Beauty Genie, many products sold around the area do not benefit Black hair, potentially causing breakage.
Not only will the Beauty Genie vending machine be fully stocked with all the must-haves, they will also carry many Black-owned hair products, including Mielle Organics. The popular brand will have kits for purchase that will focus on what students need most for their hair texture.
Their business extends beyond selling products, but also educating buyers on how to best protect their crowns. On their machines, videos from hair care professionals on topics will be on display to provide tips and tricks.
“Some students may have not even experienced or even know certain things like possibly how often to get their ends clipped,” shared managing partner, Swanzetta Lewis.
“And so, if we can provide tutorials for those kids to take back and know that, it’s also educational for them as well.”
To expand upon their partnership with colleges, an ambassador program is in development to involve students in the business aspects of restocking and marketing for the company.
While Olivet is the first school to try out this collaboration, Beauty Genie is hoping to extend their services and connection to more schools beyond the region.
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Source: Black Enterprise