Ciara Imani May, the trailblazing founder of Rebundle, has revolutionized the beauty industry with her bold and mission-oriented brand. Rebundle, known for its plant-based braiding hair, provides a superior alternative to the synthetic options commonly found at beauty supplies. By utilizing banana fiber to create their bundles, May's company aims to address the existing health and environmental disparities within the hair extensions industry. With Rebundle, customers can now enjoy extensions that are not only beneficial for their scalp but also for the environment. We spoke with May about the brand's beginnings, mission, and the importance of Black women being cared for.
What was your personal relationship with hair and braids growing up?
Growing up, I wore braids often and got them done by family members. I didn’t start getting weaves installed until late elementary school. I had really long hair and liked trying new things with it. Even though it was extremely painful and I never enjoyed the experience, I would still get braids done because it was cute!
How did you come up with the idea to start such a unique brand like Rebundle?
I got my B.A. in Management and Entrepreneurship and went to USC to study Social Entrepreneurship, so I always knew I would start my own business. I was researching the idea of more comfort and less waste in hair extensions, but I didn’t find anything on the market that met my needs. I began to study how plastic synthetic hair was made, the reasons behind scalp irritation, and possible substitutions. I discovered that natural materials would be the solution rather than the traditional use of petrochemical-based fibers. I eventually landed on banana fiber because of its versatility, dyeability, and its likeness to hair.
What obstacles did you face when laying the foundation for Rebundle?
The main obstacle I faced early on was trying to convey to people – particularly investors and grant providers – that this problem was worth investing in and paying attention to and how many women and people wearing braids are being affected. Once I honed in on that message and clarified why this was a problem, it became clearer for others. Now, we don’t have to do as much convincing, and in turn, we pave the way for any competitors that enter the market.
Can you discuss the nitty-gritty of why Rebundle's hair is better for your scalp and the environment?
Banana fibers are naturally hydrophilic, which keeps the fibers from drying out and becoming brittle. The lightness of the fibers provides extra comfort and less strain on your neck. braidbetter is USDA bio-preferred, non-toxic, biodegradable, and vegan-friendly with a natural texture that resembles your own hair, all while being itch-free.
If you had to describe the Rebundle brand in three words, what would they be?
I’m actually going to challenge that with four words. More comfort, less waste.
Could you talk about the importance of Black women feeling comfortable and cared for?
For decades, Black women have suffered from scalp irritation and discomfort while wearing plastic synthetic hair and being largely ignored. Even though this problem is well understood, it’s understudied and underinvestigated. I’m a Black woman, so I think people have gravitated towards Rebundle because we are addressing a problem that many of us know very intimately in our community and have felt ignored in this product category. I think it’s important that we recognize all of the pitfalls and problems that have resulted from not being listened to on top of not being impressed. Rebundle addresses this by being intentional about its online presence and how we make ourselves available through customer service. We are transparent about our ingredients and the process, and we want to have a strong connection with this community because a layer of the problem has been that these products have been made and distributed by people who don’t wear the extensions themselves. Everything that we do addresses the larger issue of the use of materials that cause irritation and contribute to plastic pollution and the industry-wide issues that we’ve grown accustomed to.