For Rina Gocaj Bekiri and Flo Elmazi, inclusivity is at the forefront of their joint venture, SISTERWOULD, a revolutionary haircare offering that believes everyone deserves the pleasures of washing their hair and scalp.
Inspired by their visually impaired family members, the pair set out to create the first hero products of the range, a shampoo and conditioner duo that not only uses a sensory-enhanced formula to nourish and soothe, but includes braille on its bottles, a collaboration with Vision Australia.
Below, the pair share a deep dive into their beauty brand, including the pinch-me moments in the short months since launch, as well as the lessons they’ve already learnt.
“Honestly, while we always knew we wanted to launch something, we didn’t know when exactly but, we have COVID to thank for giving us all the time in the world to work on our startup. What really prompted us was not just having the time but the passion for creating a more inclusive world especially in the beauty industry. Inclusivity goes beyond colour, skin, texture, it also includes abilities and unfortunately many brands focus on sustainability and clean products, but none focus on accessibility and inclusivity to the extent of including everyone.
"There are 43 million people living with blindness and 295 million people living with moderate to severe visual impairment. We believe everyone deserves to bask in the pleasure of washing their hair and scalp. For some, this seemingly simple ritual is taken for granted. SISTERWOULD haircare exists to help everyone turn washing their hair into an enjoyable moment of self-care.
"That’s why we decided to work with Vision Australia and have braille included on our shampoo and conditioner bottles and placed an emphasis on the sensory experience, including tactile ingredients to help with the differentiation of products as well as creating a tactile imprinting system, on the side of the bottles that includes horizontal lines = for shampoo and dots ::: for conditioner for those that can’t read braille. Both our mothers struggle with visual impairments and can’t read the tiny writing on bottles so that was enough for us to tackle a big problem.”
“Considering we’re only a five-month-old brand we’ve had three pinch-me moments that assured us we were on the right path and that there is a real need to solve the problems we’re solving. The first pinch me moment was being featured in Forbes Australia four weeks after launch. Of course, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without our incredible PR team at Hive Hq but it’s also incredible to see that Forbes was interested in our story and what we’re doing. What was mind blowing was hearing that the team love the products and our mission!
"The second pinch-me moment was coming across an actress in the U.S. who we love and look up to who likes what we’re doing. While we can’t share too much here it’s just incredible to see that even famous people have learned about SISTERWOULD and love our mission and the problems we’re tackling.
"The third pinch me moment was having a legally blind person reach out to tell us our products made her feel empowered and seen. She also mentioned her hair was just starting to grow back after chemo and she loved using the product purely because of the feeling they gave her in the shower and how well the Give Me Life Shampoo gently cleansed and detoxed her scalp. She said it made it feel so clean and refreshing that she couldn’t stop touching her head. She also relied on our tactile ingredients to differentiate the Shampoo from the Conditioner and she said this alone was game-changing without her even needing to use our braille. We cried and it was this moment we knew we were making a real difference in the world. Building a purposeful brand is what we always wanted to do. Without purpose we would have never started. There are too many products on the market and we can’t win without a differentiating factor that truly matters.”
“We believe it’s important to support female-owned businesses in order to inspire more women to take the plunge into the startup world. An important place to start is by boosting entrepreneurial ambitions among women. Women are less likely to believe they are capable of starting a business and more likely to believe their business will fail. These beliefs are reinforced by negative social attitudes towards women in entrepreneurship. We know this firsthand because we thought this until some of our greatest female mentors, family and friends pushed us and showed us the support we needed to finally launch our brand.”
“If you truly and passionately believe you found a gap in the market that you’re passionate about, dig deeper. Find the answer to your problem, find your purpose, learn your audience and the rest will come if you start putting in the work. Every step forward is a step closer to launching. Don’t be afraid to network. Networking will open a door of opportunities and will teach you incredible things.
"Our favourite quote from Marissa Mayer the CEO of Yahoo says 'If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen.' And we believe this to be true in every way, but you have to push through.”