With a leap of faith and a bottle of curl-defining cream, good things are bound to happen, at least that’s the case for Robyn Atwater. Inspired by her personal experience with hair loss, Robyn’s journey to grow her hair led her to become a natural hair influencer. After many years of success as an influencer, Robyn launched her company, CURLDAZE Haircare, in the pandemic of 2020.
Since its inception, CURLDAZE Haircare products have made their way to major retailers like CVS, Ulta, Walmart, and Target, and it’s just the beginning. Primed for growth and ‘curl domination,’ Robyn is letting God guide her steps.
In this interview with Her Agenda, Robyn shares more about her influencer beginnings, motherhood, advice to entrepreneurs, and what’s next for her and the CURLDAZE brand.
Her Agenda: What is the story behind what inspired you to create your company?
Robyn Atwater: CURLDAZE is more than just hair products which is unique in this space. The brand was actually created years before the products ever came to my mind or to fruition. I went through a bout of hair loss and my hair was coming out on my pillow. I [was] used to having thick, luscious hair all my life and I was not used to this. I had a career working for the federal government and it was a lot. I was traveling a lot and I think it was just stress. Being the researcher that I am, I said I have to stop this and I have to stop this now and find a solution ASAP. So I started doing research and I tapped into my roots. My dad has always told me about my lineage and my grandmother, so I looked into Ayurvedic herbs and I’m like this is exactly what I need because it is a holistic approach. I put together a little growth oil in my little kitchen and I started oiling my scalp. I started embracing my natural hair because part of the natural hair process was not putting heat in your hair, so I did the no heat. I had to wear my curly and I’m like, I think I like this.
I started posting on Instagram shortly after I started my natural hair journey. When I got on there, people were drawn to my hair. I would literally take pictures with no face just my hair because I really hated taking pictures. I don’t think I’m photogenic, instead, I’ll just post my hair because I think it’s cute today.
That’s really how it started. And people are like what did you do today? What did you do to your hair? What did you use? That really started CURLDAZE. Every day was a curl day for me. I started working with brands and over the next five years, I just realized I’m posting every day to people, but still every day they’re asking me what I’m using.
So I said I’m going to create products that people can love, know, and trust because they love, they know, and they trust me.
Her Agenda: Something that jumped out immediately is that you have a background as an economist. How do you feel like your background helped you?
Robyn Atwater: First of all was the research. For any industry, you have to know about it. You have to know what you’re doing. Being able to be creative in the ways that I research and with the avenues and the things that I look into, I dived deeper than the average person because I am an economist.
The second part is economics is built on supply and demand. That’s the basics of it. I realized that even though so many people were saying, ‘Oh, the market’s saturated, whatever, whatever,’ you can go into the store and see, we still have a little sliver on the shelf.
It’s not saturated. Don’t let people lie to you. We still need products. We still need help. I didn’t think that there was enough supply for the demand because I was able to talk to so many people on a daily basis, all kinds of direct messages, text messages, and personal emails. People would ask me, what do I do? How do I do it?
[I knew] there’s a demand for more and I’m going to supply that demand.
Her Agenda: Why was taking the holistic approach to things important to you?
Robyn Atwater: The whole natural hair movement was really based on avoiding things that are harmful to us, right?
For so long, things have been created by people that don’t look like us. They weren’t taking our health into consideration. There were things on the market that we were putting on our hair and in our bodies that were making us sick. I said I have to eliminate all of these things and really get down to the basics of who we are as human beings, what makes us healthy, and what makes us thrive.
I felt that if we just strip everything down to the basics of before we had any of this, you know, we were beautiful Black queens with long flowing hair before any of this happened and we were straightening our hair and putting chemicals on it. Let me take it back to the basics, right? That’s how when I produced CURLDAZE Haircare, this first line, the Kukui line, does not have any salt sulfates. It has no silicones. It has no parabens. It has no drying alcohol. I was very strategic in how I formulated the first offerings of my products because I want people to be able to have healthier options if they decide to go on a healthy hair journey.
Her Agenda: Talk to me about the horseshoe method. Tell me about creating this very signature technique for naturals.
Robyn Atwater: It’s a very signature [technique] and it’s funny that it’s still around today, to see people still do it on TikTok, which is new, is so cool.
I feel like I’ve left a mark on the natural hair community, which is dope to me, but that came about because I was doing so many hair videos for brands at the time. I sat down one day to do a video for a brand, and I was tired, girl, I was tired. I said I can’t do one more rod set, I will pass out. There’s no way I can complete this. I literally had the camera rolling and as it rolled, I looked at the rod and said, how can I do this in the most efficient way possible so I’m not here all night? Then the idea literally just came to me live on film. I bent that rod in half and said, I can put twice as much hair on this rod if I use both sides, and girl, I literally did it on the spot and it worked. I was just as shocked as everybody else seeing the video, honestly.
I named it on the spot. I said this looks like a horseshoe. And it was a hit! I think I’ve saved a lot of time for many girls out there. It’s still going really strong. I literally Googled myself just to kind of check it out.
Her Agenda: That brings up something that I think is really insightful— your background as an early influencer. Talk to me about what the transition from influencer to CEO has been like for you.
Robyn Atwater: You know what the transition has been seamless for me only because when I started as an influencer, it was before you got paid per view. We were not getting paid to post these videos on YouTube. We were honestly just sharing the things that we knew and we understood it and we wanted to help other people.
So creating the hair brand is literally the same thing for me. I just want to help. I’ve never been one to do things for monetary gain. When things are based in giving, there’s never any pressure because there’s never any pressure to not be yourself. It’s always coming from a place of love, from a place of understanding, from a place of just giving back. Right. A lot of people now in the influencer world, in my opinion, and in the hair care world, they’re chasing a dime so they’re not going to post the name of the gel they use because the company’s not paying them.
We’ve gotten away from sharing within our community, genuinely. I think the benefit of starting back when I did, I never had to join the rat race of monetary gain for knowledge or information. I’m giving it to you for free because it’s out of the kindness of my heart. I think God gave me the information to spread it and help others. And so it’s been a seamless transition, in my opinion.
Her Agenda: Your brand is in all of the big retail stores people dream of. What is next for CURLDAZE?
Robyn Atwater: We’re working on so many different products. I’m so excited about it. The next chapter of CURLDAZE will consist of more hair growth products. We have your curls popping and shining now, but we’re going to have them growing next. That’s the next phase is just to add more nourishment into your hair care routine and give you more options in that lane.
We’re one of those slow and steady types of brands. We don’t just throw things out to catch a trend or a wave. I really take my time in formulating products. I take my time and pick out each and every ingredient that goes into my product. I’m more of a quality over quantity.
Her Agenda: How do you see your partnerships with these big box retailers helping with exponential growth?
Robyn Atwater:When I first launched the brand I was able to build an amazing team for the company. They asked me what my goals were and I said, I want to be in Target.
When I said this out loud, [CURLDAZE] was probably six months old, so that’s a very ambitious goal for a brand that’s six months old. But by month nine, I had an interview with Target.
You have to know where you want to go. When somebody asks you what you want in life, you better be ready to give them an answer because you just might get it. I was blessed enough to get the opportunity to get into these stores very early in my career. And it gives you some validation in the community that okay, these big brands are getting behind CURLDAZE. Okay, I’m going to support it too. Being in the retail space gives people the opportunity to see it next to their other favorite brands and it gives the brand a chance to grow in avenues and in communities that it wouldn’t normally reach.
I’m just thankful that Walmart has been such an amazing partner for CURLDAZE. We recently got in there but the team loves supporting what we’re doing and we love supporting what they’re doing. Once you get a retailer that understands the brand, instead of really comparing you to others and what has happened in the past, you can grow so much faster because they have the means to put you in front of millions of people.
I always tell people you’re not going to have a lot of money in the beginning when you start your brand, but make sure you pay special attention to look at your packaging and look at your photos because when you finally do get that big retailer’s attention, you want to make sure you have a quality product to show them. Don’t rush your packaging. Don’t rush your presentation. Make sure it’s something that you’re proud of because you don’t know one day a retailer might look at you and say, give me your hand, and I’m gonna take you to the next level, let’s go.
That’s why we’ve had success because we were ready. We weren’t perfect. But I think we were somewhat ready to go to that next level.
Her Agenda: What other tactical advice can you share?
Robyn Atwater: I would say lots of prayer because I could not have done any of this without the Lord and heaven above because a lot of it seems impossible and it seems very overwhelming.
Because it’s something I’ve never done before. You don’t know if it’s the right thing to do, but I think God doesn’t put dreams in your heart for no reason. He wouldn’t have put that in my heart. He wouldn’t have let me blurt out, I want to be in Target.
I will always say, to keep God first and pray because it will get hard. It’s not all roses. It’s not all photoshoots and giving away cars. It’s a lot more than that. We see that on the outside and it’s very exciting, but it does get dark and it does get hard and you will have times where you have to call on your family, your friends, and the Lord, but He will bring you out.
Like I said, He put that dream in your heart and you are more than capable of succeeding.
Her Agenda: What do you hope your entrepreneurial journey is teaching your child? And how do you think being an entrepreneur has shaped the way you do motherhood?
Robyn Atwater: Wow. It’s funny because my husband is also an entrepreneur.
So my son has no choice, but to know what entrepreneurship looks like. We drop him off at school and he gets out of the car and my husband says to him, Roman, what are we? And he says, entrepreneurs. So he understands that. It’s a different way of life and a different way of thinking.
Being a mom and an entrepreneur is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. At one point, I had high blood pressure, trying to balance all things. I’m like, wait a minute, I’m too young to have high blood pressure. But that was a wake-up call.
I said I have to do better at balancing and I have to be better at delegating. You have to have a village and a village of people that you trust wholeheartedly with your child. That is critical. My mom has been the best thing to ever happen to me.
She came here from Georgia. She moved in with me and helped launch my business. We launched during the pandemic. I had my kid, we were on lockdown. I’m like, what should I do? She’s like, go ahead and launch girl. You don’t know what tomorrow holds. Launch your business. And she’s from day one has helped me make meals and pack lunch boxes.
Having a mate who will support you through it all is the second thing that really, really helped me get through this because he started his business. He’s in the music business. He has an independent record label and I have had to use some of the tactics that he has used to be successful in my own business.
Being able to set your own schedule helps with being there for your child more. You can move a meeting if you have to, you have the freedom to say no to certain things to be there for your child’s first recital or their first summer concert. You just have to prioritize things.
I always tell myself if I miss out on a business deal because I chose my son, it wasn’t the business deal for me. I think God will put things back in place. My husband and I pray every morning for God to order our steps and put the right people in our circle.
I’m very confident in the path that God has put me on. This new path of entrepreneurship, I think is right where I need to be. My parents were entrepreneurs. My husband’s parents were entrepreneurs. It’s in our spirit and in our souls.
Her Agenda: Any pieces of advice you’d like to give our audience?
Robyn Atwater: Yes. Do not be distracted by what other people are doing or have done in the past. Things that worked back then are not working right now, so don’t let other people distract you and tell you what you should be doing and what you need to be doing. Literally, put your blinders on! Be aware of the climate but put your blinders on. You have to be confident in who you are as a person and you have to be innovative to stand out in the crowd. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Just focus and pray and do your thing.