rachael corson & joycelyn mate | afrocenchix
Finding products for afro hair that work as well as being free from allergens and kind to the environment can be hard, so that’s why Rachael and Joycelyn decided to make their own. From selling out of their first batch of hair oil at a community fair in Neasden in 2009, Afrocenchix is now the first British brand designed specifically for afro hair. And in 2018, the pair secured $360,000 worth of funding at the WeWork Creator Awards, so we asked Joycelyn what’s next for Afrocenchix.
Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?
I live in Hackney and I love the diversity of the area and the fact that it’s easily accessible to anywhere in London. My favourite place in Hackney is Ridley Road Market because there are many vibrant cultures there and a wide variety of food items you can buy. I love African/Caribbean food so I appreciate having easy access to it in ways I wouldn’t be able to in more leafy parts of London. Rachael lives in Harrow, which is also wonderfully diverse and she loves the greenery of the area and the easy accessibility into the city.
What inspired you to set up Afrocenchix?
I met Rachael my business partner at university. We shared our frustration from having tried countless products which claimed to be great for Afro hair but just didn’t work. We discussed the problem that many high street favourites contain nasty chemicals to increase shelf life, smell ‘nice’ and keep costs as low as possible. Our endless quest to finding the perfect healthy products finally ended when we decided to start creating our own.
You recently won the grand prize at WeWork’s Creator Awards – talk us through what it was like pitching in front of the judges.
It was an incredible experience! We both pitched at the semi-final and Rachael pitched at the grand final, she was super excited to pitch in the presence of Ashton Kutcher, she’s been a fan since childhood. We’ve had a lot of feedback from judges at various pitching events over the years which has helped us to improve and perfect our pitch. We’ve won competitions in the past but this by far has been our greatest pitching achievement. Rachael was super nervous especially as it was her due date! Her water broke the morning of the event and her baby came just 3 days after pitching so it was tight! We had to pray before going stage asking God to not allow her baby to come on stage!
Now that you’ve won funding, what’s the next step for the business?
We’re in the process of scaling the company. Our demand is outgrowing our supply so we will be outsourcing our manufacturing so we can be in more major retailers. Currently, we manufacture our range in-house in Southwark, London and we’re keen to get this to a factory. But yes, we can finally build our team, outsource manufacturing and expand our range.
Describe your perfect day in London.
Firstly it starts with sunny weather! I love going for brunch at a boutique cafe or restaurant, usually, one that sells good quality sourdough. We like Camden because the food spots are great and I also like walking down the river in the summer. London is a great city and there is so much to do and incredible diversity, we’re grateful to live here! I’d spend the evening having dinner at a friend’s place.