Three years ago, sisters and business partners Keerti and Akhila Reddy chose an offbeat concept for their business – manufacturing and selling clip-in hair extensions. And what led them to it? An accidental haircut! Read on to learn about the dynamic duo’s venture.
Strandbyme is a very unique concept. How did you come up with it?
Akhila: It all started when my sister decided to sport a new look a few years ago, and went in for a haircut. The haircut ended on a bad note and got us thinking. In order to do some damage control we looked everywhere for hair extensions, and discovered that everything was way too expensive. And to make matters worse, ironically, even though the extensions abroad seemed to be made with Indian hair, the products could not be shipped to India.
Keerti: Oh! It was a terrible haircut, needless to say, like the story goes for every other haircut that’s sought with many expectations and bold decisions, this one went terribly wrong somewhere. That’s when we realised that India has a serious dearth of good quality hair extensions, and we decided to look into this. We came up with the mission to serve quality hair one strand at a time and hence ‘Strandbyme’ was born.
Why hair extensions?
Keerti: Clip-in hair extensions are the simple solution for those wanting more hair, a fuller look and better coverage. It's DIY beauty, wherever it is convenient for you. These are original Remy hair extensions; you can curl them, straighten them, blow dry and spray anything on them, and do whatever you can do just like your own hair. Best part is the clip-ins are ergonomically designed to ensure they don’t fall off, and they take the shape of your head naturally.
Akhila: Go dancing or just jump around, our clip-ins don’t fall off. Also, they are completely seamless. It’s almost impossible to tell if you’re wearing extensions.
How difficult was it to source good quality hair in the beginning?
Akhila: Oh my god! It was extremely difficult, like looking for hair in a haystack. India is the largest exporter of hair! And we didn’t understand why it was so difficult? It is known to have the best quality hair but when the market is so big, so are the dupes.
Keerti: So true! It is very easy to get cheated. No one tells you the truth about hair! The only way to find out is after you use it, and we have had our share of trials and errors.
Akhila: We did some tests to determine the quality of hair. The easiest being if it curls and it doesn’t burn, it’s decent quality hair. And if the curl stays it’s good quality. We have hit a lot of bumps on the way here, but we are fine now.
Keerti: I’d like to add that though India is a major exporter, its manufacturing is decades behind China. Even though the quality is amazing, we figured that it was a tough space to crack. But everything is ‘hair’ in love and war, and we finally won.
Who is your product for?
Akhila: We often compare our product to high heels or a push-up bra; it’s that beauty secret that adds the perfect finishing touch to your look. Our product is for every girl/woman out there who desires that extra volume or length, or just that extra oomph!
Keerti: It is a misconception that only people with hair loss need to wear extensions. The beauty of clip-in extensions is that you wear them at your own convenience. To those whore losing hair, it’s a non-surgical boon, and for those who just need more volume it’s a blessing in disguise, literally. It’s a safer method than chemicals and procedures, and also more practical and cost-effective.
And how do you choose the right product while purchasing?
Keerti: It’s easy breezy. We’ve done a lot of research on this front. Our website is designed to guide you to the perfect set. Our sizes and shades are those that match the Indian skin tone and are curated keeping in mind the Indian girl!
Akhila: Apart from this, we are always available on the phone via WhatsApp (if you have more doubts) to guide you.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Akhila: If I’m not working, either I’m exploring new restaurants or cooking, shopping or just researching and debating about Indian politics.
Keerti: I am married and I have a toddler, so that’s the rest of my world, as well as my husband’s history lessons. But when I do get time away from that I like to travel,read or catch up with my friends
during weekends. I am able to do all this only because I have an extremely supportive partner.
If not for this, what alternate career would you have chosen?
Akhila: Having done my Master’s in public relations, I was lucky enough to work on various prestigious projects, like my stint with Prithviraj Chavan, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra at the time. It was the most exhilarating experience of my life. If not for being an entrepreneur, I would probably be pursing public relations, either political or corporate.
Keerti: I think my heart lies in education and theatre, so most probably one of those. I might have been into pottery too!
What’s your personal style?
Akhila: As cliché as it sounds, the 3C rule works best for me: classy, comfortable, and chic. I love my denims and my summer dresses. Shoes and bags are my ‘it’ accessories. Presently I’m raving over slides and mules.
Keerti: Well, I am not someone who can ever be well put together. There’s always something missing, but that’s just me! I would say done but undone with a dash of attitude and loads of enthusiasm, topped with a charming smile. --- as told to Niharika