A common plight for African or Afro-descendant women in Beijing is the unavailability of suitable hair and cosmetic products. Returning suitcases are often brimming with multiple year’s worth of products to make hair maintenance more manageable. In response to this unmet demand for appropriate hair products in China, Americans Chizi Igwe and Uchechi Kalu started Mane Synergy, an online-based business in November 2014.
Igwe has been a Beijing resident for one-and-a-half years while Kalu has been here for nine months. Igwe says she came to Beijing having caught the “travel bug” and hoping to gain international work experience while Kalu arrived on a one-year teaching fellowship. Igwe had the initial idea of starting a salon which later morphed into the current project to provide a shopping platform where women could find natural products with ease.
“The name came from a long brainstorming session. We played a word association game and considered our mission to create co-operation between expats living in China, Chinese citizens, and international suppliers eager to break into the Chinese market. Out of that, Mane Synergy was created,” says Igwe.
Mane Synergy offers 100 percent natural products ranging from RMB 100-120. They currently stock the Angelic Artistry line of shampoo, conditioner, and hair oil, created by New Yorker, Allie Moreu in Shenzhen.
Customers can buy directly from their WeChat shop or through partnering salons and cosmetic shops. They hope to stock more products and are searching for small to medium enterprise suppliers from the US and China. This is a painstakingly slow process, as they thoroughly vet their suppliers’ ingredients.
“We strive to provide natural and organic products. As a consumer in China, it is fairly easy to gain access to a number of hair, skin, and body care products of varying quality, however to find products which use ingredients we know and trust can be exhausting and expensive,” says Igwe.
They plan to hold events in the future to educate their customers on tackling hair care issues such as which products to use for the best results.
Order WeChat (Mane Synergy) and sign up for their newsletter on www.manesynergy.com
This article originally appeared on page 19 of the beijingkids July 2015 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email email@example.com.
Photos: sui, ken