Many people with natural, kinky, curly hair like Ceata Lash, the founder and inventor of PuffCuff, would want to have that hair-styling accessory that will not cause damage to the hair. Some do improvise but Lash created one for herself and the many naturalistas out there and today, she is the first Black woman to hold three patents for natural hair accessory products.
Growing up, there truly was nothing on the market that could hold Lash’s thick and curly hair in place without tagging at it or causing breakage or knots to the hair. She combed many hair supply shops and searched online but there just was not that product out there. Soon, Lash realized other women and men in the natural hair community had similar complaints.
This motivated her to do more market research and then the one-of-a-kind hair accessory, PuffCuff, was launched in 2013 inspired by her grandmother who lived a life of no regrets. The first product was available for purchase in February 2014.
“The PuffCuff Hair Clamp was developed from a simple idea: create a tool that not only makes it easy to achieve stylish looks without stressing your hair or causing pain but one that is sanitary, durable, and affordable too,” Lash said.
Now she is the first Black woman to hold three patents for natural hair accessory products and that is just the beginning for PuffCuff and its affiliate brands, with a male product line in the works.
“I still have another patented product to produce that will address the needs of an even larger market segment,” Lash said.” “And we have another initiative that I cannot disclose.”
Lash said she has spent over $100,000 in legal fees warding off copycat products being sold in the US due to her patent rights but would not have it any other way because patenting has allowed her first market rights.
The ‘hairpreneur‘ runs the company with her husband, Garrett Lash and he has been the CEO since 2017. He brings on board his expertise from the finance and insurance sectors through IT lenses and has been handling operations, development strategies and acquisition of new business.
In 2018, Lash received the President’s Innovation Award from Sally Beauty.
The mother of three owns 100% of PuffCuff LLC and it is the goal of the couple to build generational wealth for their families, according to Black Enterprise.
Today, PuffCuff is a celebrated brand that sells on its own website, Sally Beauty, Amazon.com and in about 50 small independently owned shops operated by international retailers in the US and in Spain, Netherlands and Australia.
The Atlanta-based company, which has survived on its own revenue through the years, hopes to expand its market value from $6million to $25 million in the next five years leveraging on its originality, sub brands and products under PuffCuff, consumer projections, and the global haircare industry worth over $85 billion in yearly revenues.
The company also gives back to its community by donating to different organizations, most recently giving out $3,000 to groups that fight systemic racism, police brutality and injustice.
Like every other business, COVID-19 affected the operations of PuffCuff. Some of its employees tested positive and the shipment processes were delayed. For the first time, the company took two SBA loans that helped keep the business from laying off any of its 10 employees.
Fortunately, many families including celebrities decided to wear their natural hair in 2020, and according to Lash, “2020 was the year for e-commerce growth.”