Creating premium Black haircare that unites and respects beauty and culture
Cyndia Harvey is on a mission to elevate Black hair and scalp care, creating a luxurious brand that retains a clear connection with ancestral hair culture. The result is This Hair of Mine (THOM), a new brand created by Harvey and artist Remi Ajani, offering a plant-based scalp serum developed with scientists. The product affirms scalp care as being as important as face and body skincare. ‘Scalp care has long been part of the Black experience. A ritual enjoyed between mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers,’ explains Harvey. ‘Using the latest advances in science, we are re-inventing this ritual with a more effective solution designed to deliver exceptional results.’
Beyond products, Harvey wants THOM to become a space for greater visibility and freedom of expression for Black hair, born from her own experience growing up in Jamaica and witnessing hair as an art form – something she later replicated working in London’s leading Black hair salons, on campaigns and runways for Versace, Jacquemus, Burberry and Gucci, alongside cultural figureheads such as Solange and Kendrick Lamar.
Fostering support systems at the intersection of race and sexual wellness
Joyce Lee is the founder of Her Place, a sexual wellness and pleasure community that began life as a safe space for Asian women among the accelerating – and alarming – rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Seeking to counter the sexual objectification and stereotypes that many Asian women experience, Her Place allows women to comfortably and safely explore their sexuality and desires, without shame or taboo, while helping to educate others.
Two products kick-started the brand – a hair ribbon and scrunchie that double as bondage devices. Demonstrating Race-empowered Wellness in action, Lee describes how these items have become recognisable tokens of being part of the Her Place club, when women spot others wearing them. ‘It’s showing that you own your sexuality proudly. By wearing it during the day as fashion, it’s almost like winking at each other… I see that she owns it and I own it, it’s a support system,’ Lee tells Bazaar.com.
Celebrating Black design history to inspire future designers
Based in Florida, Mirna Pierre is a graphic designer working to bring Black graphic design talent to the fore after decades of being overlooked in the creative industries. Her notable project, View, is a confident and curvaceous typeface that pays homage to Black creatives. Focusing intently on the past in her research and development of the font, Pierre made a bold choice to avoid social media during the creative process, so as not to be influenced by contemporary design trends and leanings, and only by historical references such as 1970s record sleeves. ‘The colours, shapes, patterns and textures of that time really influence my work today,’ she tells It's Nice That.
A further strand of her research saw Pierre speak to Black designers to hear their stories, achievements and opinions on design and creativity, which itself influenced the resulting contrast and textures found in View. In particular, Pierre’s work also upholds how typefaces and lettering can capture and communicate a culture or historical narrative, and points to a future of creative type and graphic design that is centred on championing identity as much as legibility.
Queer restaurateurs on course to redefine luxury dining
In the era of Redemptive Diets, food is becoming the great connector once again, with communities – from neighbours to friends, colleagues and comrades – gathering around tables in the shared act of cooking and dining together. This is the premise that underpins HAGS, a restaurant ‘for queers, by queers’, co-created by Telly Justice and Camilla Lindsley.
As partners in life and business, HAGS unites their creative backgrounds in food and drink for a community space that seeks to elevate dining for the LGBTQ+ community, with none of the stuffiness or exclusivity typical of luxury dining spaces. Instead, HAGS wants to subvert such normative dining spaces as the perverse – that in fact, shape-shifting, inclusive and convivial dining spaces signify the future.
Turning holidays into shoppable experiences
How often have you stayed in an Airbnb or hotel and daydreamed about taking home the bed, coffee machine or high thread-count sheets? As co-founders of Glimpse, Akash Raju and Anuj Mehta are helping people to do just that – their burgeoning company allows brands to combine hospitality experiences with retail. Seizing upon the idea of Try Before Trading – a trend we explore in Hyperphysical Stores – Glimpse helps brands to position products ranging from furnishings and textiles to electronics and bathroom and beauty amenities in hotel rooms or rental properties, with discreet QR codes allowing guests to browse and shop for items for their own homes.
At present, Glimpse serves more than 8,000 luxury properties across the US and to date has launched its services in 40 states. It has also recently raised £5m ($6.2m, €5.9m) in funding. ‘Short-term rentals provide the perfect environment for customer engagement, as guests can truly experience these products in their intended setting,’ explains Raju, co-founder and CEO of Glimpse. ‘Glimpse gives brands phenomenal access to potential customers and provides immediate ROI on brand awareness and conversions.’
Fusion floristry that animates audience engagement
For Tabia Yapp, who runs a talent agency focused on representing women and artists of colour, her career and second business working in floristry has led to her working with brands ranging from Louis Vuitton to Veuve Clicquot and being championed by actors and musicians such as Lupita Nyong’o and Pharrell Williams.
Transforming how the luxury sector engages with a new generation of florists, Yapp’s company Bia Blooms is using flowers for their sensorial, even ephemeral properties. United with food, music or other creative industries, floristry is fast becoming a central component in luxury brand DNA and experiences.
Another route that is helping to educate and engage new audiences with floristry is her Bia Bloom Bars. Partnering with brands, Yapp brings these experiential activations to events, allowing guests to pick out flowers and build their own bouquets. These social media-worthy spreads of stems and petals, not to mention the ability to take home free flowers, results in plenty of happy customers.
Simplifying how we understand and change unsustainable fashion behaviours
Alec Leach is a consultant and strategist drawing attention to the hypocritical nature of the fashion industry in the age of accelerating climate anxiety. Despite claims from both brands and their customers about wanting to be more sustainable, we all continue to sell, buy, wear and throw away garments and footwear at an alarming rate.
Having previously worked as style editor at streetwear platform Highsnobiety, Leach reflects on the state of the fashion industry via his Instagram account Future Dust, examining consumerism, responsible fashion and greenwashing. Crucially, he’s developing an honest and transparent way of talking about sustainability – something Leach has cemented with the launch of his first book, The World Is On Fire But We’re Still Buying Shoes, a 144-page pocket-sized title brimming with infographics and revelations about the trickery of the fashion industry. This bold manifesto offers a roadmap to help brands and consumers have a more intentional relationship with fashion, one Leach describes as ‘better for the planet, but better for us as people, too’. He tells us: ‘Too often brands rely on tricks and double-speak to make it look like they're serious about sustainability, when really they just want to continue business as usual. Laying out a concrete plan for emissions reduction, not offsetting, is the only way forward in my opinion.'
Rewilding retail as a response to bland brands and buying experiences
Transforming the concept of wholesale for fashion and lifestyle brands, Ankorstore bills itself as the first marketplace that connects brands and creators with independent retailers all over Europe – be they gift shops, coffee shops or florists. Under the leadership of co-founder and chief technology officer Mathieu Alengrin, it has found a presence in more than 26 countries in just two years. The secret? Lowering the barriers to entry for stores – its minimum order is just £86 ($105, €100) – and flexible pay later schemes that allow stores to sell goods before they’re billed.
Before co-founding Ankorstore, Alengrin led the engineering team at luxury resale platform Vestiaire Collective, giving him crucial experience of running a marketplace. Now, in the wake of growing consumer appetite to shop locally and at independent stores, Ankorstore is giving them the tools to survive against bland department stores or homogeneous store experiences. ‘Creating big-scale tech solutions is what I dream of doing,’ he says.
Using Web3 to support censored sex workers and educators
At a time when the internet is becoming more open than ever it is also facing more censorship, especially where sex work and sexual health and wellness are concerned. In the US, the passing of the recent SESTA/FOSTA laws – designed to combat sex trafficking – has in fact led to the censorship of sex workers and even affected conversations on wellbeing platforms.
It's here that Ernest Otoo and Charis Uster are seeking to drive change and fight for the voices, work and creativity of sex workers, content-creators, performers and educators. To do this, they're turning to NFTs, launching a marketplace called NFTreats, where the public can support such performers and creatives by purchasing NFTs as a form of compensation for work that might be censored. At present, the platform features more than 35 artists and performers, with the ambition to fuel education, conversation and create 'a positive narrative around sex and sexuality through art and community.'
Greening the grey with a focus on community and inclusivity
Most people wouldn’t link football and gardening together, but for 20something west Londoner Tayshan Hayden-Smith, the latter has become his passion over a burgeoning career scoring goals in Europe. Today, he's focused on championing gardening as a community activity and connector.
The reason for his green-fingered career shift has roots in tragedy; Hayden-Smith grew up close to Grenfell Tower, a high-rise building in London where, in 2017, a fire broke out killing 72 residents. Flying back to the UK from his football club in Austria, he spent time cleaning up a public garden with the community, which later became the Grenfell Garden of Peace. Finding solace and purpose in this garden, and spotting a need for more inclusive community gardens, he founded Grow2Know, a grassroots non-profit organisation that reclaims green space in cities and reconnects people with nature. He recently won an award at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show for Hands Off Mangrove, a garden inspired by Notting Hill’s Mangrove Nine activists in the 1970s, alongside the global destruction of mangroves.
In the first six instalments of our Futures 100 Innovators longlist, we get to know global disruptors and change-makers creating the future across 10 sectors.
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