The power of tapping into an under-served market with Startup Tiwani Heritage (episode 413)

Lola Cawood and Carol Lathbridge are the co-founders of Tiwani Heritage, the UK’s FIRST retailer of recyclable synthetic hair extensions. They sell their 100% biodegradable and plastic-free products via their Shopify store and marketplaces. Founded in 2018, and launched in 2020 they are deep in startup land and have already helped over 400 customers in the UK.

Carol Lathbridge & Lola Cawood Tiwani Heritage on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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About Tiwani Heritage

Carol and Lola found that there weren’t too many options for people of color who wanted to wear their hair in different styles. Along with their research to address the gap, they also discovered that the sustainability piece wasn’t being given much attention when it came to synthetic hair extensions.

Tiwani Heritage was born to offer a range of hair extensions that celebrated afro and curly hair textures while at the same time addressing the environmental issue that comes with using synthetic material.

So together with the launch of their initial collection, they also put in place their recycling program, which incentivizes customers and makes sure that hair extensions are recycled and do not end up in landfills.

Going Plant-based

Lola shares that in some cases, synthetic hair has a coating to make it more like human hair. Unfortunately, that coating results in severe scalp irritation for some people.

This motivated them to come up with a plant-based option for those who have negative reactions to synthetic hair and also for customers who want a better, sustainable alternative.

Serving the Black British Community

For the black hair community, they consider their hair as a cultural identity. And coming from generations of black British, Carol says they wanted to celebrate their authenticity, especially when it came to the ideals of British beauty and wearing afro and curly hair extensions.

Additionally, Lola shares that the black community has always looked to America for trends and styles. With Tiwani Heritage, she hopes they will be able to carve out their own space and represent the people they serve.

Taking the Funding Route

Tiwani Heritage has been a bootstrapped business since its inception. But because they had to consider stock and the demand coming from the US, they made the decision to start fundraising in order to scale globally.

Carol says it’s about time they ramp things up and showcase what they’re doing at Tiwani Heritage. With funding, they’ll be able to have the right infrastructure in place, cater to the demand, and grow the brand through community.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • An email mailing list: it’s underrated but it’s a solid vehicle for reaching your customer base

Tool Top Tip

Growth Top Tip

  • Join accelerator programs and invest in yourself. Lola and Carol just finished the Collective Impact Course by Virgin StartUp and CrowdCube, which they say has given them the tools to help grow their business.

Interview Links

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