CHICAGO — When Kim Lewis decided to eschew chemical-based hair products and cut off her heat-damaged hair, she tried to find natural ingredients to make organic products herself.
But the ingredients were hard to find, and making them in her kitchen was exhausting.
“It was definitely a learning process,” said Lewis, 25, of Roseland.
So she and her husband, Tim, started their own company, CurlMix.
The business ships a box full of natural ingredients directly to customers, giving them the tools to create their own natural hair products without ever leaving home. Subscribers are provided online video tutorials.
Products include Apple Cinnamon Edge Control, Brown Sugar Hair & Body Butter, Curl Styling Jelly and more. There are some pre-made samples as well.
In under a year, CurlMix has turned into a six-figure company, Lewis said.
Kim and Tim Lewis founded CurlMix in 2015. [Provided/Kim Lewis]
The high school sweethearts met while attending Morgan Park High School and both graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — Lewis with a bachelor’s in logistics and marketing, and her husband with degrees in economics and psychology.
Right after college, her husband was struggling to land a job in his field. He accepted a job at a local Starbucks while continuing his search. Lewis began working as a district manager for a major grocery store, she said, but her entrepreneurial spirit felt caged in.
“It was just so intense,” she said. “I was working over 80 hours a week, and I’m like 21. I really hated the life I was in because I felt that I had no control over my time, and I wasn’t doing something that I loved.”
Lewis quit in 2013 after three months on the job.
Before launching CurlMix in 2015, she experimented with natural hair tutorials and workshops, but she couldn't make a living off of it, Lewis said.
Frustrated with how hard it was to make the treatments herself, she became obsessed with the idea of making that journey easier for other black women, Lewis said.
CurlMix was founded by husband and wife Tim and Kim Lewis in 2015. [Provided/CurlMix]
The other driving factor to founding their business was the lack of transparency in hair products, Lewis said, admitting that before she went natural she didn't read hair-care ingredient labels.
“Hair products are very lightly regulated, meaning you don’t have to put every ingredient on the label,” she said.
Lewis said that most women on the natural hair route are seeking a healthy lifestyle; therefore they also want to know what they’re putting in their hair.
“I feel like because it’s your hair, your body, you should know what you’re putting on it and in it,” she said. “That’s CurlMix’s mission, to bring transparency to the industry.”
CurlMix donates a portion of proceeds to women-owned businesses.
To help women who want to learn how to make their own products and share techniques from other naturalistas, Lewis is kicking off her first CurlMix Party Tour in Chicago from noon-3 p.m. April 15 at 1355 W. Concord Place.
Instead of the usual hair demos, attendees will be able to mix their own hair products with guidance from experts. It’s an interactive workshop that will include a “Build Your Own” Hair and Body Butter Bar, Body Scrub Bar and Hot Oil Treatment Bar.
The couple will launch their new line, which consists of four of their best-selling products from last year, including the Watermelon Kiwi Moisturizing Hair Gel and Coconut Honey Deep Conditioner.
The tour also will stop in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, New Orleans, New York and Atlanta. Get tickets online through www.curlmix.com.