RaggaNats, a haircare company operating from Portmore in St Catherine, is owned and operated by Wilma Cuff, a cosmetologist, and Sherika Anderson, a civil engineer turned haircare product researcher and formulator. They are mother and daughter.
Their organic hair and beard care solution-based products carry the tagline ‘Strengthen from the roots’.
Started in August 2020, the company is now two years old. The hair care service is the realisation of a dream of the mother and daughter duo. Cuff says that she grew up in rural Jamaica, where she took a liking to styling hair and witnessed her own mother making Jamaican black castor oil for her hair, her siblings’, and other community members’.
Cuff became certified in hair care and cosmetology, leading her to start offering this service. However, over time, she discovered many problems with using store-bought products and started making her own hair treatments, using Jamaican herbs for the different hair issues present in her clients’ hair.
Sherika Anderson, Wilma’s daughter, although a civil engineer by profession, was always fascinated by the science behind product formulations and started more research, looking into the chemistry of the formulations.
In 2015 Anderson also started experiencing breakage and shedding with her own hair, and even though she tried many different products in the market, she realised that the results were temporary and led to other hair issues.
“I started researching and discovered the history of herbs used in hair care by Maroons in Jamaica, the women in India, Chad, and Ghana,” Anderson recalls.
She began experimenting and testing different product formulations using herbal formulae. The result was “an extensive reduction in hair shedding and breakage”, and her hair grew past the standard shoulder-length.
In 2020 the mother and daughter combined Wilma Cuff’s knowledge of hair and making Jamaican black castor oil and Sherika Anderson’s natural Ayurvedic and African formulations to create RaggaNats.
They have since produced hair serums, butters, conditioners, and tea rinses. The products were tested on their hair and on that of their family members.
Wilma Cuff told the Jamaica Observer, “We were astonished by the effectiveness of the products, which saw damaged hair repaired, curls revitalised, scalp issues healed, and visible length retention.” With excitement and enthusiasm the duo decided to share the products with the world.
The business currently does not employ anyone apart from the mother and daughter The operation of the business is carried out by Cuff and Anderson, along with the assistance provided by Cuff’s other children.
Operating from their home in St Catherine, RaggaNats formulates and produces hair and beard care products that focus on “strengthening the hair from the roots”.
Some of these products include deep conditioners, leave-in conditioners, hair masks, Jamaican black castor oil, hair serums, beard oils, hair fertilisers, and beard balms. More details about products can be found on www.ragganats.com. Sales and marketing are done online.
Anderson told Sunday Finance, “ Unlike other hair care product manufacturers, we focus on using specific raw materials from Jamaica, India, and Africa — an untapped and underdeveloped area in the industry, merging science and our ancestral hair secrets to create solution-based products.
“With the use of pimento, Jamaican black castor oil, henna, fenugreek, and chebe, all from different hair cultures in Jamaica, India, and Africa, RaggaNats truly epitomises the Jamaican motto, “Out of many, one people”.
She adds, “We are unique in the way we go about making our products, with us getting everything that is possible from the natural herbs themselves. And not only that, we keep the development process as close to that of how we were taught so that we don’t lose the essence and make-up of the oil that people are used to and associate Jamaican black castor oil with.”
Demand for oils, Amazon sales
Products in most demand are the oils and deep conditioner. Slap Weh Ayurvfrican Hair Serum accounted for 24 per cent of sales in 2021.
“This oil has a combination of over 25 herbs and oils that helps to make the hair thicker, promotes hair growth, and treats hair issues such as alopecia and thin edges.
“These are issues that are prevalent amongst mainly females in Jamaica, and for this reason, along with the fact that the product works, has been the main reasons why this has been one of our best-selling products,” Anderson revealed.
Jamaican black castor oil accounted for 20 per cent of sales in 2021. Anderson states, “This is a well-known product that is associated with Jamaica. Given the high quality of our JBCO [Jamaican black castor oil], it has become one of our best-selling products, to the point that it has now become our first product that we sell on Amazon.”
Recently RaggaNats rebranded its hair teas as hydrating mists. This change has seen a greater demand for the product, with it climbing to the top as one of the most sought-after products.
Hair teas or hydrating mists can be sprayed on the hair and scalp to help soothe itchiness, inflammation, and at the same time help to keep the hair hydrated and provide nutrients that make the hair stronger (reduce breakage) and promote growth.
RaggaNats uses a combination of rosemary, coffee, fenugreek, henna, and clove to make the hydrating product which can be used at any time during the day.
RaggaNats has chosen to target three areas of the market: environmentally aware young females who care about their hair and want to achieve healthy hair; mothers and other busy females who don’t really have the time to take detailed care of their hair, but still want to have healthy hair; and men who are into beard and hair growing and grooming.
Anderson shared, “We have products for all hair types and for persons in different stages of their hair journey.”
Targeting is similar for Jamaica and Amazon sales, which is being used to service clientele internationally. The majority of sales are from the company’s online platform and local referrals.
Challenges experienced in the two years of operation include sourcing of raw materials and containers/packaging locally; sourcing equipment that can be used to increase production rate; and getting products into stores.
Anderson told Sunday Finance, “The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) has been a massive help in helping me take my business from the idea phase to where it is now.” The mother and daughter have not been able to get their products in stores as yet but are working towards clearing that hurdle in the near future.
Anderson states, “RaggaNats wants to grow and to garner a larger percentage of the hair market, both locally and internationally. We want to do this by first getting our products in store so that we can have our products on the shelves so that people can walk in and purchase our products with ease.
“Along with this, we want to have greater sales on the different e-commerce platforms. We will have to work on improving our marketing so that we can generate more sales via our online store and on online platforms, such as Amazon.”
To buttress marketing efforts, the mother and daughter are hoping to get funding support from the Development Bank of Jamaica, through the mediation of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation.
Source: Jamaica Observer