HYPE HAIR: Tell me a little bit about what the inspiration was behind this particular brand?
KEENAN BEASLEY: A lot of it was my family with the women in my life. My mom, my niece, they’re both swimmers. Being a Black woman who swims, it’s just extremely challenging. So a lot of my motivation was looking at the fact that here’s somebody who is so passionate about this sport, but now is nervous and apprehensive about it, because of what it’s doing to her look and her style that she thinks she’s supposed to have. And that was kind of a real “a-ha” moment for me, where I got to see the challenges that women of color especially go through with being passionate about an activity and wanting to do these things. But they also have these concerns with their hair.
HH: Where did the name Sunday II Sunday come from?
KEENAN: The name came from the fact that Sunday was that dreaded wash day for a lot of women, right? Once a week, I’m washing my hair in this kind of process. And I was like, “OK, well, if that day is happening, how can I alleviate and make the time between those wash days better? How can I extend that look? How can I make that process a little bit more seamless? And you know what? If we really get great, how can we even push that Sunday wash day off?” Maybe it’s once every two weeks, three weeks. That’s kind of what continuous innovation will lead us down the path of. Our goal was to help get her from Sunday to Sunday as seamless as possible so she could live with no compromises.
HH: What was the development process like for this collection?
KEENAN: I’m no stranger to product development. I started my career off on Tide and then Gillette globally. I was the youngest VP of marketing over at L’Oreal for Garnier. But what was rare with this instance is there was no real data on Black women and textured hair. So, this is one of the things that was actually troublesome for me. A lot of the research that’s done on Black hair is actually done on damaged white hair.
It’s a horrible, horrible issue in the industry because that’s dealing with the hair once it’s already out of the follicle. A lot of the differences and the nuances are actually in the shape of the follicle. So textured hair is more of an elliptical follicle, where straighter hair is more of a round follicle. It’s really how the hair is growing out, and the shape of the follicle and the way sebum actually spreads around the scalp. So, our starting point for the research was actually in scalp care.
Our process is called the Skinification of Hair. We’re really addressing the scalp needs in our developmental process initially because that is actually the source of the nuance, the difference and the challenges of Black hair.
HH: The brand launched on May 31. Was there some significance to that date for you?
KEENAN: Our original launch date was supposed to be in February, but we were seeing the impacts of COVID globally just through our supply chain and pulling packaging from Asia. We had these series of delays. When I looked at the next comfortable move date, we were going through all these challenges as a startup, and that’s the journey. That’s the process of being an entrepreneur. There’s ups and downs. It’s never this kind of fixed linear road.
You have the Tulsa Massacre on May 31. When I looked at that, that was just a moment where outside forces tried to take down Black success and achievement. It was something when I looked at where those individuals had to be so resilient, so courageous, so strong, to keep moving on. Let’s just be very clear on how difficult it was for them to even create wealth, and you’re talking in the 1920s, right? That, in itself, was an unbelievable feat, but then they get attacked. To continue to rise and rebuild after that, I thought it was one of those full-circle moments where you roll with the punches, but you show resilience and grit. You bring what you believe is excellence to the marketplace. That was what we wanted to do, and to pay tribute to those trailblazers that came before us.
HH: Currently, you can buy Sunday II Sunday on its website. When will it be available at other big-box retailers or beauty supply stores?
KEENAN: We’re still learning and building a relationship. We’re still building a brand. And I think it’s important for us to have that one-to-one interaction with all of our customers. And it’s hard to do that once you go into big-box retailers. Every day, I read our comments, and I read our customer service reviews. That feedback is what’s working, what’s not right; what do they like about the product? And people are really honest. All those things help, as we are constantly evolving, innovating and tweaking our business.
HH: What is the hero product of your brand?
KEENAN: I will admit that my hypothesis was that the Edge Flourish was going to be the hero product because we talk so much about edges. We hear so much about that, especially with protective styles being so on-trend. But it seems that our Root Refresh has been really a hero, which is wild. It’s such an easy cleansing product for folks to use in between washes really to extend that style. And I’m seeing it used slightly differently than I thought because these products help nourish at the scalp level. But I’m seeing people really use it, and I’m hearing them talk about it in terms of resetting their curls.
HH: What is going to be next for the brand? Will we see any new products?
KEENAN: Oh, you are. We’ve invested heavily in [research and development] because this is personal for me. I tell everyone I’m making products for my mom and sister and my niece. The three people I love most in the world. So I had to ensure that we were bringing the absolute best products. That’s why I sought out investments from some of the best R&D groups in the world. I didn’t focus on those groups for marketing help. I focused on ensuring that I had the best product testing and research behind our products. So, from an efficacy standpoint, I felt that we would be at the top of the industry. We’ve been innovating this entire time. We actually have four
I want to make sure that we are a positive example because there’s a lot of health issues that are existing in the Black community. We want you to feel great, but we also want to make sure that you’re healthy. Now, you have that extra time to play with your family and be around. . . I want to make sure that we are truly building that equity and showing that support, not just talking about it, but living it.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.