Scrunchies are a daily staple in many hairstyling routines, but not all scrunchies are created equal. Hair ties have traditionally been too small or made with breakage-causing fabrics for people with thick curls and coils. Magdaline Hurtado's frustration with the lack of texture-inclusive scrunchies came to a boiling point when she transitioned from relaxers to her natural hair. "After fully transitioning to my natural hair, many of the products I used no longer worked on my coils, including my hair ties," she says.
She initially set out to craft a solution for herself, sewing a wide silk scrunchie in her grandmother's kitchen in the Dominican Republic. However, she soon realized she was onto something bigger. Hurtado decided to launch Hello Updo in 2020, a haircare brand offering scrunchies specifically made for textured hair. Ahead, the Dominican-American entrepreneur discusses her natural hair journey, launching Hello Updo, and how she's prioritizing sustainability.
What has your natural hair journey been like?
I was very self-conscious about my natural hair growing up. I would religiously visit the salon and get relaxers, which we know do more harm than good. My last relaxer was for my Quineñera. After that, I vowed I would never put another chemical in my hair again.
I started embracing my natural hair in high school. My hair at the time didn't curl; instead, it was more like damaged waves. Looking back at my pictures, I don't know how I left the house like that, but I'm grateful I did. It took over five years, a lot of patience, and trial and error for my hair to completely transition back to its natural state. Today, my hair means the world to me. It's not just hair; it's part of my identity, history, and pride. I wear it with honor.
What inspired you to launch Hello Updo?
The lack of hair ties offered for my hair texture and volume sparked the idea of creating a wide silk scrunchie for myself, which soon enough turned into Hello Updo's leading product, known today as the Biggish.
I was in [the Dominican Republic] when the idea came to me. It was scorching outside, and I wanted to get my coily hair up and out of my face. I ended up snapping through a few hair ties, and I then questioned why a global industry didn't already offer hair ties for textured and fuller hair types. A few weeks later, I was sewing the first Biggish in my Abuela's kitchen, not knowing that single scrunchie would kick off my journey as an entrepreneur. The Biggish has since been shipped to countless consumers and stores across the country, selling out three times.
Hello Updo currently offers two silk scrunchies—Scrunchie 01 (our original medium fluff silk scrunchie) and Scrunchie 02 (oversized puffy fabric) in both "biggish" and "smallish" sizes. My mom and I currently create each scrunchie in-house. She's my number one supporter.
What has the journey been like building Hello Updo?
Building Hello Updo has been such a beautiful journey filled with both challenging and rewarding experiences. The most challenging is finding the drive to keep pushing. Starting a business from scratch is no joke. It's all a one-woman show. I wore many hats for two years and finally have been granted the opportunity to bring on passionate, hardworking people to the Hello Updo team.
The challenges are rough. Sometimes we have to push through weeks of challenging moments, but when an evergreen review comes in from a customer saying they'd never thought how life-changing a scrunchie could be, every emotion tied to the challenges gets thrown out the window.
In addition to having the support of our customers, journalists, and other friendly brands, having my mom support Hello Updo and join the team has truly been the biggest reward of all. She taught herself how to sew for the brand to flourish. I don't know who I'd be or where Hello Updo would be without my mom.
How are you prioritizing sustainability within the brand?
Along with protecting hair, Hello Updo aims to protect mother Earth in any way we can. When ideating our packaging, I made it a priority to find a luxe container that would protect the silk but would also minimize single-use plastic.
After careful research, I decided Hello Updo would place the scrunchies into glass jars and encourage our customers to upcycle after purchase. It's been great to see how people are reusing them. The pots have become sunscreen jars, snack jars, planters, jewelry storage, and more. Our shipping boxes and marketing collateral are also made of recycled or recyclable materials. At Hello Updo, we are dedicated to continuing to find ways to minimize waste.
What are your goals for the company in the next few years? Do you have plans to expand into other hair accessories?
I can't wait to see Hello Updo on the shelves of the country's biggest stores. There is still so much opportunity for brands that represent textured hair and Black and Brown women to be included on these shelves. I want to make sure we all feel seen even at the high-end department stores. We plan to expand into other hair accessories very soon, so stay tuned!