Where It All Began - Parfait's Origin Story from CEO Isoken Igbinedion
The origins of Parfait started with a problem experienced by many women of color, managing and caring for our textured hair. The journey for me started at ten years old after a dangerous encounter with a chemical relaxer that made my natural hair fall out.
I started using hair extensions to give my hair a break and a chance to regrow, and spent the next 20 years navigating the friction-filled, highly manual market of hair products and services.
A Fragmented Experience Ripe for Innovation
In those 20 years, very little innovation has been seen to improve the hair buying and installation process for consumers or the manufacturing process to make it easier for stylists to serve women.
In an era where technology began making the lives of everyday people easier, with driverless vehicles, and smartphones improving our ability to connect with people, little attention was being paid to solving problems for marginalized communities, and that problem is deeply felt by black women, especially in the beauty industry.
Black Buying Power Pushes For Change
McKinsey completed a study last year that found black consumers are willing to shift 30% of their spending to companies that can actually deliver on their needs and will pay 1.2 times more for the opportunity, adding up to a $300B dollar market opportunity in unmet demand from black consumers.
This sentiment is especially true for wigs and extensions, with thousands of available retailers to choose from, little variation in brand or product variety, and significant education and skill required to even use these products effectively, women continue to search for a better experience.
The reason for these issues stems from both the lack of investment and technical innovation in improving the supply chain and buying experience, and worse, the technology available to improve these experiences lacks the diversity needed to provide exceptional outcomes for people of color, powerfully felt in the use of commercial training datasets used in computer vision technology.
Our Lightbulb Moment
At AfroTech 2019, I got inspired listening to speakers talk about working to leverage technology to improve the lives of people in my community, and with black hair at the top of my list of problems that needed real investment for a better solution, our team began researching the problem, and out of our research Parfait was born with a mission to create products and experiences, with technology, that recognize and prioritize people of color.