Recent Studio Art alumna Ariel Lee launches platform to support kinky and curly hair communities

Tuesday, May 11, 2021
 
Studio Art alumna Ariel Lee

 

Ariel Lee by Remane

 

By Mariane Gutierrez

Ariel Lee (B.A., Studio Art, 2020) has always cared about the kinky and curly hair community. She grew up as a part of the natural hair community, looking for products that could help her maintain her own hair, but had difficulty finding accurate information about the best products for her hair type. As a student at UT, Lee took matters into her own hands and created a space where this community could communicate and help one another thrive after being underrepresented for so long.

Lee teamed up with fellow student D’azhane Cook and created Remane, a web-based company that uses machine learning to provide men and women with personalized hair care routines based on their hair types.

Remane quickly started to gain traction, thanks in part to the support of the Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) Institute, which featured the team in their Featured Female Founders series. Shortly before launching in early April, the company caught the eye of Forbes, where Lee was named to the Forbes Next 1000 list in the top 250 founders.

“The idea for Remane first came to be within an entrepreneurship minor class,” Lee said. “It was a program called Product Prodigy Institute, and essentially it was a class created to help students of color create, learn product management skills and learn how to build a company from the bottom up. It was a great opportunity for us to learn those skills and understand that we too could be entrepreneurs.”

As a Studio Art student, Lee used visual elements to help create Remane, but drew heavily on other skills cultivated as an artist that helped her create this company.

During her time at UT, Lee’s classes challenged her to think of art as a response to things happening around the world. They gave her an understanding of who she wanted to be as an artist and human entering the real world, and provided her with the framework she needed to explore what being an artist and entrepreneur meant.

“I remember I had a project in which my teacher challenged me and said, ‘Your job is to explore and not simply be safe with the art that you create. You have to take a risk.’” Lee said. “I think entrepreneurship has been a risk, and it’s given me skills to navigate through ambiguity because within artistic practice there is always ambiguity. Art is a process, and you must evolve within yourself to reveal the final product.”

The web app works for all hair types, including straight, non-curly, braided, with locks, etc. It gathers intel on a person’s hair type and creates a curated list of steps to follow to maintain a routine. The app then sends text reminders about the routine to the user.

While creating Remane, Lee and Cook’s goal was to create a social impact for individuals who have been underrepresented in the hair care community. To do this, they use an algorithm that recommends products based on each person’s hair variables. Hair care products targeted to customers with curly or kinky hair have a history of using harmful and toxic ingredients, and so, before recommending any brands, Remane ensures the company uses no harmful chemicals.

“One of the things that we learned was that we needed to create companies that would serve our communities and truly create experiences that would drive home equity and really bring up those behind us to make sure that we're creating empathetic, loving and caring experiences,” Lee said.

The web app ensures its users stay motivated throughout their hair journeys not only by recommending safe and effective products, but by empowering them with affirmations, rewards and reminders to drink water and be kind.

“We've made our platform so that it's not just about hair care,” Lee said. “It's also about the things that surround hair care. We did a collaboration with a Black yoga teacher, for example, to create five yoga poses that can help stimulate hair growth.”

Although Remane is currently a website, the company plans to grow into a mobile application that can be downloaded on all devices. Lee said they hope to become a household name that helps men and women from all experience levels become empowered with their hair journey and know there is a community that supports them.

“I can envision us creating partnerships with dermatologists and stylist hair specialists to provide more offerings to our platform, whether that be consultations or even just better curated content and education within our platform,” Lee said. “Our goal right now is just to validate all the traction and all the noise that has been out there about us and to think this is why we're here, this is what we're here to do and to get good at it. We're in it for the long haul.”

 
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