GTA curly businesses benefit from COVID-19, BLM

Rowan McAnoy and Natasha Sheppard, owners of CurlShoppe Photo credit: Courtesy of Curl Shoppe

The pandemic lockdown hasn’t been a bad thing for some online businesses, especially those tht are black-owned. The awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) has resulted in an increase in business for at least two curly hair brands.

“We saw the first bump in business when COVID hit because we are online, says CurlShoppe co-owner, Rowan McAnoy, from Scarborough, Ont. “We saw another bump because not only were people buying online, but they were buying intentionally to purposely support black-owned businesses.”

McAnoy says she couldn’t believe it was normal not to have that support before [BLM], but is pleased people are supporting small businesses due to COVID-19 and supporting black-owned businesses.

Curl Shoppe started in the Canadian market in late 2014, responding to a lack of curly products. Minus a science background, Curl Shoppe founder, Natasha Sheppard, nevertheless began researching products and brought them from the U.S. to formulate her own.

Christina Piazza holding the Curls and Confidence subscription box.
Christina Piazza holding the Curls and Confidence subscription box. Photo credit: Courtesy of Curls and Confidence

Christina Piazza, Curls and Confidence owner, has also seen an increase in her business due to (COVID-19) COVID- 19 and BLM.

“I was happy to be online while others were panicking to get online,” says Piazza. I had clients and seen an increase, I think sales went up by 110 per cent.”

Piazza didn’t have the same numbers for the months of May and June because certain products were held up at the border and it was difficult to get new shipments.

“One box is still at the border to this day,” explains Piazza.”Two of three boxes arrived… with the border being closed that’s the only thing that has been affecting the company.”

In the past, Piazza had been able to save when she was able to cross the border and come back home. Now, she has more expenses because she has to invest money for products to arrive in Canada.

“The pandemic helped challenge me to get the admin side done, by filling out custom and duty forms, but it was easier for me to go drive across the border and get what I needed and come back,” said Piazza.

BLM also impacted the business as new customers started to buy.

Curls and Confidence sells a mixture of Canadian and American black-owned curly brands.

“I came out with a box subscription, so every month, you’d have different products to try… giving customers curly hair products from start to finish, until 2018 due to personal issues,” explains Piazza.

Customers and brands wanted Curls and Confidence to make the products within previous subscription boxes available for purchase.

Piazza came up with the idea of Curls and Confidence when she was in university and fell in love with customer service while working at Sephora.

“I noticed a gap when it came to black hair care, she says. “Why don’t we have a store like Sephora where we can get into black beauty products? And I’m talking about the same luxury experience [rather than a typical beauty supply store].”

This idea inspired her to create Curls and Confidence.

Prior to Curls and Confidence, Piazza had trouble finding products for her hair. “The only thing I’d use is Miss Jessies… I was getting it at a Scarborough beauty supply store for $65 per tub and for me, that was the only that was working.”

Piazza said if it wasn’t for Instagram she wouldn’t be able to run her business, as it’s been the leading force to build her customer traction.

“I don’t like to call myself a beauty shop, but I’m like ‘oh yeah I am’,” said Piazza.

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