This Bootstrapping Businesswoman Bet on Herself and Won
Courtesy: Ranay Daye

A self-proclaimed “lazy natural” when it comes to her own hair, Ranay Daye decided she had had enough of dealing with “subpar” bonnets. This sparked the inspiration for her company, Glow by Daye, which she founded in 2017. The Los Angeles–based company sells satin-lined shower caps, silk pillowcases and deep conditioning heat caps to help women more easily manage their hair care regimen,

Four years later, Daye’s frustration has paid off in more ways than she could ever have imagined, though it took a special leap of faith in order to make it happen.

“I did not want to leave my job,” Daye says. 

In 2018, Daye made the difficult decision to leave her corporate job with a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company to work full-time with Glow by Daye, the hair care business she had founded a year earlier. “It was definitely the epitome of golden handcuffs, so to speak, because I liked that job. But there was no next step for me there.” The entrepreneur made about $1.1 million in revenue last year and was recently chosen as a Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition Prize finalist. Perhaps more importantly, Daye’s new position affords her the ability to spend more time with her family, including her two boys who are 5 and 2.

Her goal was to create an affordable, premium bonnet—one that would be adjustable, reversible and use materials that help to preserve our hair. She moved forward, sketches on hand, and tapped into multiple outsourcing manufacturers for a prototype. Daye looked at various iterations of what these companies had to offer, until she finally found a manufacturer who could supply Glow with a bonnet that met her high standards. The end result? A satin bonnet the company claims will help your hair retain moisture, reduce split ends and preserve your style.

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“Not only am I looking for the right product, but I’m looking for the right partnerships,” Daye says about her search for a manufacturer. “The product obviously has to be amazing, but the process of how [partners] operate and communicate needs to be on par.” When making decisions about building business alliances, she evaluated whether potential business partners were aligned with her vision and standards. She examined how well they worked together, how responsive they were to her and if they were willing to grow with her company as it grew.

A business management graduate from Purdue University, Daye admits that she did not have a business plan in place to guide her early decisions and started the business with her own money. “I remember feeling a sense of anxiety placing that first order,” the entrepreneur says of the initial minimum purchase of 300 bonnets from the manufacturer. She was worried that she would not make the money back. “I think that paralyzes a lot of new business owners, [because] they fail to answer that one question that could settle their nerves. ‘If I lose this money, could I still pay my mortgage and feed my kids?’” Knowing the answer to this question, Daye says, helps alleviate the stress. She’s only recently begun raising capital from outside sources to help her accelerate the company’s growth.

Counted among the more than 2 million independent businesses on Amazon, the company’s satin bonnets were launched on the online shopping site’s (FBA) service. “Amazon at the time was the best option for me, since I was working full-time, just had a baby and didn’t really understand the concept of going on social media,” she says. “Amazon was the quickest way to get to customers. I wanted to get the product into the hands of complete strangers and get honest feedback.”

Six months later, after adding other color options for the bonnets, Daye began designing and developing other offerings. “I wanted [the products] to be made for textured hair, all of its vulnerability and unique needs.” Daye adds, although the products were made with natural hair in mind, they are also beneficial for all hair types.

One of the priceless sources of R&D for Glow has been the customer feedback about its products. “Customers tell you the truth,” says Daye. As a direct result of client reviews on the deep conditioning heating cap, she tweaked and remodeled the cap to make it larger. “We heard, ‘We love it, but it’s a little too small.’ I only had to see that a few times to know that it was time to take it up a notch.” And although Glow by Daye’s products are a bit pricier than what consumers may be accustomed to from beauty supply stores, it’s this attention to detail that earned the company more than a million dollars in sales in 2020.

“That’s the greatest part about being a smaller business, you can pivot pretty quickly without losing too much.”