I’m excited to announce that Earnest Capital has invested in Un-Ruly & Yeluchi by Un-Ruly. Un-Ruly is the pre-eminent beauty blog dedicated to black hair and Yeluchi by Un-Ruly provides at-home professional hair styling services for women of color.
At Earnest, a core thesis is that there are many overlooked and underserved opportunities for technology-enabled products that are deemed “too niche” by the venture capital community. The founders, Abigail and Antonia, first discovered this underserved market by launching a beauty blog in 2013 dedicated to black hair and quickly found posts consistently went viral. Over time they developed a deep understanding of the market and uncovered an adjacent opportunity.
The fundamental insight of Yeluchi, gleaned after years of running a top blog on hair styles for women of color and building a tight community there, is that going to the salon for modern hair styling is a very poor experience for women of color. Some black hairstyles can take 6-8+ hours to complete, so even while super fast blow out bars get more popular, the salon experience for women of color continues to decline with 94% of black women expressing dissatisfaction with the salon experience primarily due to wait times.
Hence Yeluchi: a marketplace of vetted professional experienced stylists offering in-home appointments for styling services focused on serving women of color. Yeluchi is available now in New York City and Los Angeles and offers a wide array of in-home services as well as periodic pop-ups in both cities. They are also accepting applications for more stylists and organizing training sessions for stylists.
One of the things we have learned and changed our minds on after joining and investing in Makerpad, the hub of the no-code movement, is that we are now quite happy to invest in companies built primarily using no-code tools and without any “proprietary” software. Both Un-Ruly and Yeluchi were until recently side projects for the founders and have been built and managed entirely without writing a line of custom code. This has allowed them to completely bootstrap the business to significant traction without the need to raise capital too early and hire an expensive development team.
This scrappy bootstrapper mentality has allowed Un-Ruly to succeed where others have failed. Seeing the unmet need, other founders have tried variations of this idea in other cities before 1 and in each case the companies have shut down after building a strategy around raising venture capital, and then exhaustively trying and failing to get traditional VC funds on board. Whether or not this market is “too niche” is certainly debatable to us 🤦♂️, but Earnest is always excited to back talented founders building for an underserved market that unicorn-hunting VCs deem too small.
Another interesting aspect, and one that we’re starting to see more and more of, is the blending of a media company and a managed marketplace that creates all kinds of positive feedback loops for their business. I have no doubt that the Un-Ruly team will eventually expand to improve every aspect of hair styling and care for women of color.
We’re thrilled to be working with Antonia and Abigail as they build a calm profitable business. Check out Un-ruly.com, if you are anywhere, and Yeluchi if you live in or are traveling to New York or L.A.