Cleveland-Based Startup FELOH Connects Black Women With Beauty Brands for Natural Hairstyles

The Cleveland-based startup FELOH, a hair and beauty app, recently won a pitch competition sponsored by Black Girl Ventures. From left are the women behind FELOH, founder and CEO Camille Genise Heard, Zarin Hamid and Jacqueline Baron. Credit: DeVante Caldwell

The idea of starting a business devoted to hair products for Black women kept swirling in Camille Genise Heard’s head.

Finally, she asked herself a crucial question.

“What is the worst thing that can happen if I take this idea seriously? Am I gonna die? No!” she recalled. “So why not take it seriously?”

Heard quit her corporate job, turned her childhood bedroom into an office and kickstarted FELOH — which means For Everyone’s Love of Hair and Beauty.

FELOH is both a social marketplace and a destination for Black women looking for advice, inspiration and products as they transition from chemically straightened hair to natural hair styles. The FELOH app links users with nearly 60 sellers offering more than 1,000 products.

The Cleveland-based startup recently won first place and more than $14,000 in prize money and donations in the Black Girl Ventures Pitch Competition. Seven Black and brown, women-identifying founders competed for the grand prize in a virtual competition, while an online audience voted for the best pitch through donations via a crowdfunding platform, according to competition organizers.

Black Girl Ventures, based in Alexandria, Virginia, praised Heard as a “profoundly passionate and committed” entrepreneur.

“(Heard’s) pitch stood out to us because of her unique approach to leveraging community insights to drive business to the brands on her platform,” Black Girl Ventures said in an email. “Her curated marketplace ensures her customers get access to the best products for their specific needs.”

Winning the Black Girl Ventures prize money was a blessing, Heard said. The company has been funded through personal savings, credit, two small crowdfunding campaigns and a $10,000 interest-free loan obtained through a business accelerator program.

The pitch competition was the start of a busy year for FELOH, which recently relaunched its app. Users who post selfies on FELOH, or share their experiences with products win rewards that can be used in the app’s marketplace.

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SOURCE: Cleveland.com, Julie Washington

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