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Synthetic hair, for years, has been a go-to solution for women looking for versatile hairstyles, especially in the communities of color. However, it’s increasingly recognized that these products can come with a significant cost. Not only have many women reported scalp irritation and other health-related problems from these extensions, but there’s also a significant environmental toll. Synthetic hair often ends up in landfills, contributing to the persistent issue of plastic waste.

Rebundle Founder Ciara Imani May
Rebundle Founder Ciara Imani May

Rebundle: The Genesis of an Idea

In the midst of these growing concerns, Ciara Imani May, a Kansas City native pursuing a master’s degree in social entrepreneurship, had a unique insight. Experiencing the negative effects of synthetic hair extensions firsthand, May started researching other options. She was dismayed to discover that much of the synthetic hair used by braiders and stylists contains plastic materials that can harm both the wearer and the environment. The lack of safe, affordable, and sustainable alternatives led her to conceive the idea for Rebundle.

Rebundle: An Innovative Response

May’s brand, Rebundle, sells plant-based hair extensions which are marketed as both safe and comfortable for the wearer. Operating on a direct-to-consumer model through its website, Rebundle bypasses traditional retail channels. The aim is to keep the production and distribution process as straightforward and sustainable as possible. To further engage with the community and promote local businesses, the company maintains an online directory of partner braiders around the country.

Braidbetter: The Sustainable Offering

One of Rebundle’s offerings, Braidbetter, is a testament to the company’s commitment to sustainability. It’s a lightweight, itch-free hair bundle made from recycled materials and naturally extracted banana fibers. The company is continually working on its research and development processes to ensure the hair extensions are as similar to natural hair as possible. However, the focus remains on creating a non-toxic, biodegradable product that customers would want to wear, and feel good in.

Recycling Synthetic Hair: A Sustainable Cycle

Rebundle’s sustainability efforts don’t stop with just creating eco-friendly hair extensions. The company has instituted a plastic synthetic hair recycling program for its customers. Under this initiative, unwanted hair is recycled into items like outdoor furniture and decking. Through this, May seeks to bring about accountability for existing waste while also providing a way for the community to choose sustainability.

The Road Ahead

May envisions an expansion of her product range and a continued effort to create hair extensions that are safe, stylish, and sustainable. “The business is about more than profit,” she explains, “it’s about making a positive impact on the health and environmental aspects of hair extensions.” By aligning profit with sustainability, she believes businesses can create something truly amazing, setting new standards and expectations in the industry.

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