Kansas City resident Ciara Imani May is the CEO and creator of the plant-based hair extension company Rebundle, which produces “braidbetter” hair extensions that contain zero of the hazardous plastics used in the hair that is typically found in beauty supply stores.
Ciara’s biodegradable company makes its hair from organically extracted banana fiber and recycled biopolymers, giving it somewhat thicker strands than the usual synthetic extensions. According to May, her extensions are both important for the environment as well as the health of the scalp.
Prior to 2019 when she launched the brand, May experienced some problems with synthetic braiding hair. Her scalp would become extremely itchy and sensitive, making her dread wearing protective styles, according to HuffPost.
She was at first unsure that her discomfort was being caused by her hair, but soon after, she confirmed that it wasn’t the products she was using to care for her braids that were the problem, but rather the hair itself. She began researching the synthetic hair industry to understand how plastic hair was being made and subsequently ordered some lab samples on two popular brands and did what she calls “customer discovery” with people who wore braids.
The young entrepreneur shared that she got in touch with anyone that she could find who really had an understanding of what types of natural fibers were being used to replace plastics, till she finally landed on banana fibers.
Today, Rebundle, headquartered in St. Louis, says it is the first plant-based hair extension company in the United States. It soft-launched in January 2021 before relaunching later with a patent-pending version of the product, HuffPost said.
Sherrell Dorsey, the founder and CEO of The Plug, an online magazine concentrating on trends in Black innovation in technology, tweeted in favor of Rebundle’s eco-friendly braids during the month of its premiere. Some of the tweets in response revealed a clear desire for the product.
May shared that it even reflected on her social media. “I now have hundreds of stories of people like, ‘I can wear my braids and not have to worry about itchiness? I’ll give you all my money right now,’ ” she said, according to Inc.
With over 25,000 Instagram followers, Rebundle’s goal of minimizing the environmental impact of synthetic hair one bundle at a time is gaining traction. Each part of the organization reflects May’s dedication to sustainability. Customers can even participate in a recycling program for plastic synthetic hair run by Rebundle. Almost 450 pounds of synthetic plastic hair have been recycled to date through the program.
May’s product comes as people increasingly move towards sustainable products. Americans spend over $100 billion on sustainable products, according to data cited by Inc. It is therefore not surprising that celebrities like NBA point guard Chris Paul and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick invested in May’s company, which has so far raised $2.1 million in funding.