When it comes to braids, one of the most common complaints from women is the length of time it takes to take them down.
Natasha Anderson devised The Original Unbraider in 2004 in order to provide a method for efficiency. The tool allows users to remove six to eight braids at once. It combs out the unbraided hair as well as the braided hair.
Anderson collaborated with a buddy whose family owned a plastic manufacturing company in Taiwan to bring the tool to life.
“As I was designing it, going through the prototype phase, and dealing with the engineers, I shared it with him when he was visiting my husband [and] he said, ‘I can take that back to Taiwan. And if my family is not able to create the mold for this idea, my best friend’s family also has one,’” Anderson said.
She continued: “So, we technically ended up going with his best friend. The whole family — four at that time — flew to Taiwan. We got to see the manufacturing and how they poured it and made the mold. It was really a great experience. And my husband really helped out by allowing us to pull money off our house in order to do that.”
In California, the mother of five sold the item alongside her family at hair shows, beauty salons, and mall kiosks. Nevertheless, the company came to a halt once Anderson’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died.
Anderson’s daughter, Khadija Imara, took over as CEO of The Original Unbraider in 2021. The company was formally rebranded approximately two years later.
The Original Unbraider not only sold out in the first week, but it also received millions of views on social media. It has also piqued the interest of celebrities such as Tamar Braxton.
“The response has been amazing and I’ve had an amazing mentor to be able to follow in her footsteps and she provided me a blueprint,” Imara said. “It was just about utilizing today’s time and the resources and the tools that we have. And the lesson learned was how to approach with a systematic approach, the social media strategy.”
“This marketing strategy has pivoted since we first launched because it was different when [my mother] launched, we had a completely different strategy because e-commerce wasn’t a viable option at the time … So, we were doing a lot of on-the-ground work, hair shows, and whatnot. And so we continued to do that as well,” she added.
While The Original Unbraider helps beauticians, parents, and others, its primary goal is to empower the Black community.
Anderson and Imara want to show Black people, particularly young Black women, what Black ownership might look like in industries with little representation.
The Original Unbraider hopes to expand in the near future to accommodate increased consumer demand, remain accessible and affordable, and become a Black home staple like hot combs. They are also looking to increase their product line.
“Expanding our product line is something that we’re interested in,” Imara shared. “And expanding our reach, going international. We have a lot of demand in the U.K., the Caribbean, Canada — so many places. We’re also looking to be able to help that hair care journey because we’ve all been on it. I have cut my hair several times and done the [big] chop and said, ‘This is the last time.’ I’ve been there before. I know exactly what has helped me and I want to help others in that journey as well.”