There are moments when style and beauty come together to curate a much needed product. Arguably, these sectors go hand in hand and thrive better, together.

“As an African American woman with natural hair, I, and many others have to constantly use water and large amounts of hair products in order to style and maintain our hair, As a result, I created The CurlyCape to assist women during at-home and salon hair maintenance routines,” Carlyse Thomas tells ESSENCE.Thomas is the Founder and CEO of CurlyCape, a machine washable wrap-around that prevents the messiness of washday.

Launching just last month, CurlyCape has seen great success as an emerging business by curating an easy-going wash day accessory that was seemingly non existent. Thomas points out that using a nylon cape similar to beauty salon, prevents the naturalista from moving freely under the cape along with the struggle of cleaning it properly. “Granted, the plastic and nylon capes protect but they do not absorb water or water-based products; in fact, water and product content will roll off of these capes,” Thomas exclaimed.

ESSENCE spoke with the founder about her innovative creation, how the natural hair community is reacting to her product and what’s next for CurlyCape.

ESSENCE: Where did the Curly Cape idea come from?

Thomas: Interestingly, The Curly Cape came to life (sort of) spur of the moment after my own personal experience during an infamous “wash day” routine.  It all started during a scheduled “wash day” weekend in October 2019.  If just the thought of wash day doesn’t make most naturalistas already hesitant enough, I knew that I had a long weekend ahead with the process of taking out my crochet passion twists, detangling, pre-poo, shampoo, deep conditioning and then styling.  Furthermore, I have low porosity combination 4 type hair so I knew that the detangling and pre-poo portion of the process was not going to be a walk in the park. 

In the process of using a creamy conditioner and tons of water to pre-poo my hair, I became annoyed with the constant dripping of product onto my shoulders.  I was forced to constantly grab a towel to wipe the product and water from my skin. Desperately trying to find a remedy for this annoyance, I wrapped a towel around my shoulders hoping it would help with protecting my skin and tank top.  You would think this would be the solution to my problem, right? Unfortunately, it wasn’t!  The towel kept falling off as I proceeded to twist my hair. Frustrated at this point, I blurted out “I NEED A CAPE!” And so, The Curly Cape was born!

How do you feel like this piece helps black women?

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Until now, there was not an efficient beauty accessory that prevented cleaning product that dripped from the hair or limited spillages on the floor.  Patrons would either have to drape heavy towels around their necks or use plastic and nylon capes.  Furthermore, the plastic capes are hard to thoroughly clean and do not allow for the wearer to move their arms freely.  Lastly, and most importantly, The Curly Cape is machine washable, durable and absorbent.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about natural hair?

The biggest misconception about natural hair to me that it is perceived as not professional or acceptable in a corporate setting. Prior to the founding of The Curly Cape, LLC,  I worked in Corporate America for 10 years fulfilling roles that are normally held by white males.  For a long time, I would hide my hair under wigs so that people would pay more attention to my productivity and not my hair.  I’m sure most would think “It’s 2020! Why would anyone think that natural hair is negative when most black women are natural”?  Well, I thought the same in 2018 when I decided to show up to work with my natural tresses.  Of course, I was met with stares but I thought they were “I didn’t know she had hair since she always wore weave” stares, but I was wrong.  Another African American woman, pulled me to the side and told me never to show up to work again with my twist out and that I should immediately straighten my hair that evening to have a more “presentable look”. 

How have your buyers reacted to this product?

So far buyers have reacted very favorably to the product. Most couldn’t believe that the quality is better than expected and that the garment really does absorb water.

What is next for the brand?

The next move for The Curly Cape, LLC is to develop and expand the product line to create other hair grooming and accessory products for men, women and children. Once developed, I would like to sell the products at hair & beauty exhibitions and retail brick & mortar establishments.