A hair revolution has begun: CharlieCurls transforms listless straight hair, untamed wavy hair and every hair type in between into gorgeous curly, voluminous tresses without chemicals or heat. The CharlieCurl is a brilliantly simple device that only takes 30 seconds to insert and works its magic in a matter of hours– replacing the vast assortment of products that women lug all over the world. It’s easy to pack and compact enough for the lightest travelers. It’s a game-changing product for anyone with long hair.
CharlieCurls was created by mother daughter team — Kris and Ciera Akins –who have used the product since Ciera was 4 (she’s now 21). Last Fall Kris and Ciera tragically lost a husband and father to lung cancer. Searching for new purpose, they decided to focus on something that brought them joy in their lives, and their lovely hair has always been an inspiration. Even with Ciera currently in college, CharlieCurls launched in January of 2015 when they seized the opportunity to share it with the rest of the world. Fast forward seven months and the duo started a Kickstarter campaign that is 80 percent funded with three days to go. They’re looking to show women of all nationalities, races and ages that this product will change their lives and curl all types of hair— even hair that typically won’t hold curls. “With a lot of my friends their hair doesn’t curl with curling irons, but CharlieCurls works and the curls stay,” says Ciera. “And it’s all natural.”
How it Works:
Ciera explains how she has been using the CharlieCurl for the last 17 years: She washes her hair and let’s it air dry. When ready for bed, she flips her head over, letting her hair fall towards the floor, gathers it into the middle of the CharlieCurl and, making sure all layers are accounted for, swiftly rolls her hair up (in less than 30 seconds) and twists CharlieCurls ends together – no need for pins or clips of any kind. Waking up in the morning, a quick unroll reveals perfectly curly tresses. If she’s running short on time she spritzes her dry hair with water and rolls it up for a couple hours. For tighter curls she leaves her hair up longer — and for wavier hair she brushes her hair out when she removes it. She uses the product every three days or so for amazing curls, waves and body.
The spark that inspired the birth of CharlieCurls occurred 17 years ago when the Akins family visited the Albuquerque State Fair. Kris was perusing the booths and found a product being sold as a headband. When she played with Ciera’s hair one day, she realized that these so-called headbands could be used to curl her child’s hair without heat damaging products. “It was my hair and it was kind of her idea,” says Ciera, smiling at her mother. Her long golden tresses frame a face that is beaming with palpable excitement.
Kris came up with the name CharlieCurls on a whim. Friends suggested she call the product “wrappunzle” — but that was a tongue twister. Others suggested she call it CieraCurls , “but nobody knows how to spell Ciera,” says Kris. When she heard CharlieCurls it made her think of Charlie’s Angels. “Hair was a big deal with Charlie’s Angels,” says Kris. “And there was a perfume called Charlie in the 70s where the girl was walking along being a power woman with this beautiful long hair.” It had a nice ring to it and stuck.
Five female family members run the startup – Kris is the launch master, her sister Lynne Hessling, the operations and logistics chief, Ciera is Brand Ambassador, and their marketing team is Kris’s niece, Chelsea and her cousin, Rachel. They’ve been working around the clock to spread the word about their Kickstarter campaign and show anyone with long hair that they don’t need to waste valuable time in the morning or pay for expensive tools and product for their hair. They can use Charlie Curls and wake up looking and feeling fabulous. “I want to start being like Beyonce and say ‘I woke up like this — flawless,’ says Ciera with a grin. And they know their market: every girl with long hair – quite a demographic! “The only thing similar is a product still being sold as a headband,” says Ciera. “With rollers you need 10 or 12 of them — CharlieCurls is simple and fast.” It’s also very international. We’ve gotten several inquiries from Brazil. Latino girls have this long gorgeous hair and it’s thick — and they’re very beauty oriented in Brazil.” Says Kris.
Ciera has wanted to be a Marine Biologist since she was four years old, and Kris thinks CharlieCurls could give her the foundation she needs to follow her passion. Ciera is a senior in marine biology at Eckerd College in Florida and hopes to apply the tools of entrepreneurship to her future endeavors. “I’ve told her all of her life that I want her to understand entrepreneurship because the kind of marine biology jobs she wants are not abundant,” says Kris. “She wants be out at sea and travel the world. She will need to write for grants, to network,” says Kris. “She’s going to have to be an entrepreneur if she wants to live the lifestyle that she wants to live.” And that’s exactly what she’s doing.
Currently, Kris and Ciera are focusing their energy on promoting CharlieCurls. They signed up for a PR list and are sending short concise press releases to the media. Online, they’re targeting mommy bloggers, style bloggers, and are heavily utilizing social media. “There are millions and millions of girls with long hair — this will benefit the majority of those girls. But how do you reach them?” asks Kris. The mother daughter duo is currently sewing 15 CharlieCurls to send to celebrities. They’re hoping a few will try the product and promote it to their followers.
And Oregon has been the perfect place to launch CharlieCurls. “Everyone is so supportive of each other and encouraging,” says Ciera. The OEN Summit we went to was really inspiring. People are willing to give you advice and help you out. I think it’s a great place because there are so many people who know what you’re going through.” “I love Portland,” adds Kris. “It’s a down to earth place that still has all the life and all the culture and everything you want – and you can actually be totally friendly and everybody is friendly back.”
On Being an Entrepreneur:
Kris has been an entrepreneur for 37 years. As a registered architect, she founded building-oriented products –and when one led to a venture capital backed company, she began weaving between creating products and building spectacular spaces. ‘Tree in a Box,’ became her foundation when she and her husband developed and successfully sold their “grow your own tree from seed” product after 23 years. She has applied lessons from these experiences to Charlie Curls and to BikeTrak, another venture she has been working on for the past four years. She has a plethora of tips for entrepreneurs starting their own adventures. First and foremost she expresses the importance of recognizing the value of your product or service. “Originally when I created companies, I didn’t realize the value of what I had built. So by the time I got done building a company and it became either irrelevant or dated, or there was something else to do I just kinda went, ‘hmm, okay done with that one.’” She’d move on to her next idea without asking ‘does this have value?’ “Now, when I build something, if we decide to keep going that’s fine — we keep selling, or we build it to a point where it’s worth a lot of money to someone else and then we exit. That’s the part I forgot in the past – the exit. It was the thrill of the building, now I understand that doesn’t go away, but the thrill of the exit is that it sets you up for the next one.”
Ciera feels the product will be successful if it is recognizable by the public. “If 1 in 10 people recognize it — and it gets into boutiques and stores and people are looking for it, I feel like it will spread through word of mouth, it is just so good and so easy” she says. “Because I’m the model and face of the company, I want CharlieCurls to be legendary. It would be really, really exciting. I’m almost trying not to get my hopes up because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she says. Success for Kris would be financial freedom. “My entire life has been so up and down financially — I would love it if I could put a base under me and could keep being an entrepreneur without the money stress.” And she wants to bring the product to women around the world. “I really want to stand on a stage in Brazil and show women taking their hair down and revealing amazing waves and curls in front of a huge crowd,” she says.