The rise in healthy hair trends.
Introducing Founder of AQUIS, Britta Cox, whose passion lies in alleviating the pain points of women around the world who care about the quality of their hair.
Below Britta inspires us with her story of how she developed the idea for AQUIS and what she believes sets successful entrepreneurs apart. “Coming from a long line of self-made entrepreneurs, I knew that if hair could be dried faster and with less damage, friction, or heat, the haircare routine would be forever changed.”
For Britta Cox, “haircare” meant tons of time wasted washing her hair and waiting forever while it dried. Instead of helping her, Britta felt like her routine was holding her back. That all changed when Britta turned her focus to the ski industry. Britta took note of the high-performance fabrics found in ski wear that rapidly wick away moisture to keep skiers dry. Could that technology somehow be applied to haircare?
From that inspiration, Britta developed the first AQUIS hair towel. It was lightweight and easy to use, with a proprietary microfiber called Aquitex® that rapidly wicked away moisture. Britta had found her time-saving solution.
1. Describe yourself as Founder of AQUIS one sentence.
As both a founder and a person, I’d describe myself as very curious, appreciative of the value of observation, a problem-solver, passionate, lover of life and people, most often going against the norm and am a calculated risk-taker by nature. These are common traits of an entrepreneur.
2. Why focus on hair specifically within the beauty industry?
My entry to the hair and beauty industry happened because I wanted to solve a problem that I, and most women I knew, had: the hassle of drying hair. My journey in hair has been full of learning, which never stops. This is what holds my interest and excitement in the hair & beauty industry.
When I started AQUIS in 1990 there was no such thing as a “hair towel.” Everyone used big, bulky bath towels that left hair dripping wet, didn’t stay on your head, pulled on your hair and made hair frizzy. I wanted a towel that would dry my hair quickly, be easy to use and would give me my best hair with less effort. I also recognized that most women had the same problem, and this was a common and universal need. In 1998, I patented the turban shape so you could easily multi-task while your hair was drying.
We wanted to take a deep dive into the physics and biology of hair to understand its innermost workings. Think about this: hair is made of keratin the same as our fingernails. Your nails are strong when they are dry and get weak when they are wet. The same thing happens to your hair. Hair gets weak when it’s wet and regains strength when dry. So, we want to dry it quickly and gently and avoid damage breakage when it’s in its most vulnerable state. So after creating AQUIS and our AQUITEX fabric, we started getting feedback from consumers that their hair was remarkably better simply by using the AQUIS towel.
3. Tell us more about your unique connection to skiwear and the Aquis hair towel.
I was working in the ski industry when I saw the first wicking fibers and performance fabrics being used in base-layer clothing to draw sweat away from the body during ski and outdoor activities. I had my “aha” moment and realized there was indeed a better solution to drying hair, so I researched and found the company in Japan who invented the first wicking fibers. I worked with them to create our signature Aquitex fabric, designed to wick water from hair at the point of contact in order to dry hair quickly and gently.
4. We are seeing Gen Z care more about working on their natural beauty when compared to Millennials and Baby Boomers at their age. What is the most effective method to market to this young, conscious audience?
Now more than ever people are making more informed decisions about the products they use and the companies they choose to buy from, to ensure they are aligned with their personal core values.
At AQUIS, we have always been very transparent and we make a point of making all our information easily accessible to our community. Learning and understanding is core to our own brand values and we are very appreciative that the community is also interested to learn and make informed decisions.
5. Aquis works with influencers; do you rely on them to help prove to your audience that your product works? How so?
We are deeply appreciative and rely on influencers and our whole community who generously share their learnings about their hair experiences, so they help teach each other. We support these conversations as it is much more meaningful to hear learnings from people with specific hair types and concerns and how they find ways to get their best hair and feel great about themselves. People have such amazingly positive experiences with AQUIS, so our goal is simply to get people to try AQUIS for themselves and see how it saves them time and improves the health of their hair.
"Now more than ever people are making more informed decisions about the products they use and the companies they choose to buy from."
6. Your hair towels are sold globally. Do you find that because generally, middle eastern customers have ‘curlier’ hair than other ethnicities, this region is a prime market for you? How about Europeans or Asians who are more often known to have naturally sleek, straight, soft hair?
Around the world, people care about their hair. All people, all ages. The world truly is our market as all hair is made of keratin. All hair types will benefit from using AQUIS hair towels and turbans and will get their healthiest hair possible and with less effort. Our customers in the Middle East tend to have curlier and thicker hair that takes a longer time to dry, so they particularly appreciate that AQUIS dries hair 50% faster. They also experience that AQUIS gives hair a more defined curl pattern and helps reduce frizz. We are very excited to be able to share AQUIS with the people of the Middle East.
European hair tends to be finer and more fragile, for them AQUIS helps by removing water quickly so they can dry hair with less heat and the gentleness of the AQUITEX material helps them avoid hair breakage. Fine hair also tends to tangle easily quickly when wet, so removing excess water helps cuticles close back down after being wet to reduce tangling, frizz and breakage.
Asian hair tends to be the strongest hair with the most layers of protective cuticles (think like tiles on a roof). However, there is a huge trend in Asia to perm and color hair to colors which require removing melanin with harsh chemicals which severely damages hair. This causes hair to become very porous and fragile, putting it at risk of damage and breakage. So, again, using AQUIS is important for drying hair quickly and gently to help hair regain strength and not cause friction so you can get your best hair no matter how you choose to express it.
Also, as people age, hair also gets more dry which causes hair to get weaker when wet. AQUIS helps protect aging hair from damage.
7. External factors can play a role in people’s willingness to try new things or in how to they manage their free time. How did the quarantine period influence customer acquisition and/or sales?
Since COVID, started people have been severely limited in their ability to leave their home or access their usual hair and beauty services. People have more free time at home and have been keen to try to maintain their hair as best as possible during quarantine. The first two weeks of COVID were especially scary and we did what entrepreneurs do best, we dug deep, got resourceful and went into triage mode pivoting to be able to engage with people where they were. Our full team embraced the challenge and together we managed to turn things around and have had the most successful two quarters in our history.
This continues to be a very stressful time for people with so many unknowns and many people are struggling with financial security, so we must all take time for self-care and time to be reflective and empathic to those around us to so how we can support each other through this challenging time. If we unite, we can all thrive.
8. How can someone order from Aquis if based in GCC? Please list channels and social media information.
We are available in all Sephora Stores across the GCC and you can purchase from www.sephora.ae and www.sephora.sa
9. What’s the most important tip you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to master a gap in the beauty market?
To build a viable business, it is crucial that you are solving a real problem for a sizable group of people and have a solid and meaningful point of differentiation. If you can protect that point of differentiation, that is ideal. Otherwise it becomes ever the more time sensitive to secure your distribution and place in the market at the leader before someone takes your idea and you get left behind. It is not easy to get your product introduced to people and for the word-of-mouth to take hold, this is only possible if you have something that is unique, solves a real problem and people re-purchase it and share it with others. To master a gap in the industry with a product, stay true to yourself and the product you create and never waiver on your core values to give people the best product you possibly can that will make their life better.