Attending a predominately white institution (PWI) can be difficult for students of color. Often time’s students experience cultural shock in their dorm rooms, classrooms, social events and other campus activities. Black women and men also experience off campus cultural shock as well. Especially when it comes to shopping for hair products and finding a local barber shop or hair salon.
Kyra Young, CEO of “Kyra Shea Medley’s” (KSM) experienced firsthand the struggle of finding hair and skin products for Black women who live on campus and attend PWI’s. As a result, she along with her longtime boyfriend and COO of KSM John Moore and CFO Michael Moore, created a line of ten different butter creams and four baby butters. The entire line is composed of multipurpose, organic, vegan and cruelty free products for Black women.
Today, KSM is helping Black women by keeping their hair growing and their melanin glowing.
“We wanted to make a product where people can read and comprehend the ingredients,” said Young. “We want our customers to know that our products are coming from a legitimate source. Our niche customers are Black women who care about what they are putting on their skin, the skin of their families and friends.”
Prior to starting KSM, Young was working in educational non-profit while John worked in finance, banking and music. Looking back on their life now, the team never thought they would become a business owners.
The story behind KSM
“Growing up in a predominately Black and Latina area and to go into an environment that is completely different, I was introduced to places like ‘Whole Foods’ and ‘Trader Joes.’ When I was used to places like ‘Food for Less’ said Young.
One day Young caught the bus from campus to a local beauty supply to purchase a moisturizer for her hair.
“I had my hair in braids,” said Young. “The sales representative offered me gel or mousse. I was thinking, I didn’t ask you to tame my hair, I asked for a moisturizer. But you can’t be the angry Black woman stereotype so you have to say thank you and walk out of the store.”
Instead of taking a three hour bus ride to her hometown, Young decided to take her passion for African American studies, knowledge of baking and research skills to create her own hair and skin products.
“I ordered a pound of shea butter from Amazon and I tried it out,” said Young. “I have very sensitive skin and it did not break out and my hair was drinking it.”
Later, friends and family members began encouraging Young to start a business and sell her product to other people of color.
“I was just trying to meet a need for myself. I wasn’t a business major, I wasn’t a chemistry major, I wasn’t a marketing major. I kept thinking I have no idea how to even start a business” said Young.
Soon, Young began passing out free sample of her product on campus to students of color. Later, students began purchasing the ingredients for her so that she could make them their very own jar.
Throughout the process of creating KSM, the team experienced downfalls due to their lack of knowledge about starting a business and the difficulty in finding resources for Black business owners. The team also lacked funding.
“We didn’t know anything about branding, customer retention, how to grow our subscribers list,” said John Moore. “YouTube became our best friend. Making mistakes are costly because money is time and time is money.”
Later, the team was able to use their research, social media and networking skills to take advantage of free marketing. Which has led to their present day success.
Recently, KSM along with three other businesses made history by creating the first Black pop-up shop in the city of Inglewood. The pop-up shop which is called “The Spot” is a place for Black business owners to rent out for events like open mics, fashion shows, art galleries and more.
“We want to keep Black businesses alive in the city of Inglewood and take advantage of some of the traffic and resources that are coming to the city,” said John Moore.
For more information on KSM please visit https://kyrasheamedleys.com/ Customers can also purchase KSM products at select beauty supplies and Target stores. For more information on, “The Spot” check out http://www.thespotinglewood.com/