As a student at Purdue University, Ashley G. Scott endured a traumatic transition from relaxed to natural hair with little support from family and friends. She learned firsthand the challenges students face when learning how to maintain natural hair on campus. In June of 2014, she created CurlyInCollege to fill a void and create a safe space for empowerment and self-discovery so students could have what she didn’t – a support network and access to campus specific information, both on and offline. Read more to learn about her company, the premier destination for students seeking the latest news on natural hair care and related lifestyle trends!
More About CurlyInCollege
1. Tell us more about yourself!
In 2010, I graduated from Purdue University with a B.A. in Public Relations & Rhetorical Advocacy. My professional experiences intersect technology, education, and community outreach, and have largely focused on cultivating the resources and talents of communities of color.
Since graduation, I’ve worked as an Assistant Director in the Office of Admissions at Purdue University, as the Operations Manager & Community Curator of MatchBOX Coworking Studio, as a digital communication consultant for Herd Strategies and as a program management consultant for digitalundivided, who has worked with companies like Facebook, American Express, Ogilvy and Google to support and increase the number of diverse founders in tech.
I’m a former TEDx Presenter, Top 10 Under 40 Winner, YWCA Woman of Distinction, Purdue Outstanding Young Alumni Award Recipient and was recently recognized a 2016 Evergreen Leadership Community Builder.
In my spare time I founded the Black Professional network in Greater Lafayette, IN, the Black Thought Collective in Purdue University’s nationally recognized Black Cultural Center, but I am now extremely devoted to uplifting and inspiring others around the world through CurlyInCollege LLC.
2. What is the mission of CurlyInCollege?
CurlyInCollege is an online destination and the first national network of student organizations that celebrates and supports those who are bold enough to navigate a life with curls on campus.
We do this by raising awareness of the issues facing students with naturally curly hair at each partner institution. We then provide useful solutions whenever possible. How?
> Publishing student’s stories on our blog
> Establishing on-campus chapters and train natural hair ambassadors
> Developing students' leadership skills through our internships and training seminars
> Connecting students to other members of the natural hair community through our events and global networks
> Selling inspirational merchandise and our CurlyInCollege Survival Kits (launching later this fall)
3. How did you choose the name of your company?
The domain just sort of hit me one night and it was available! Interesting fact - I purchased it about a year before I actually launched the business.
4. Who is your key audience?
We mostly attract Black women between 16-24 who are currently in, preparing for, or have recently graduated from college.
Our CurlyBeforeCollege and CurlyAfterCollege initiatives offer programming and content that serves our broader pipeline. This year we’ll be heavily focused on recruiting more male student leaders as well.
Although we as an organization have a vested interest in people of color with natural hair, we welcome all to join in and contribute to a meaningful exchange of uplifting words and helpful resources that aid in easing a student’s journey with curly hair. CurlyInCollege is a community where diversity is valued and incidents of hate and bias are not tolerated. We also uphold the statement of diversity and anti-discrimination and harassment policies observed by each host institution.
5. How do you plan to grow over the next 12 months?
CurlyInCollege started in 2014 as an online destination for students seeking the latest news on natural hair care and related lifestyle trends. In 2015, our brand expanded, becoming the first national network of on-campus student organizations to celebrate natural hair. In 2016 we’re scaling the number of on-campus chapters we manage nationally, expanding our list of brand partners beyond hair/beauty, recruiting more men, and preparing to launch our first product - The CurlyInCollege Survival Kit.
6. What is your biggest business challenge right now?
We’re currently seeking a cash-infusion that would support our growth, particularly the launch of our first product, The CurlyInCollege Survival Kit.
7. Which women entrepreneurs from around the world do you look up to and why?
I admire women like Denise Herd of Herd Strategies, Kristen Cooper of the Startup Ladies, and others who contribute their time and talents to building up change agents in their local community. I also admire women like Kathryn Finney of digitalundivided who challenges business leaders nationally to uphold a resource-backed commitment to diversity in tech.
8. How have The Startup Ladies helped CurlyInCollege grow?
The Startup Ladies community has completely transformed my entrepreneurial experience in Indianapolis. I’ve gone from working in isolation to attending workshops with other women who are building tech-enabled companies just like me! I learn a lot at each Study Hall and leave each meeting with valuable tips and tremendous motivation. In a matter of weeks I’ve been connected to a ton of resources in the Indianapolis community that will help me sustain and scale my business. Had that been left for me to explore on my own, I may have never stumbled upon the talented members of The Startup Ladies network, but Kristen’s careful cultivation and high quality events makes the networking experience effortless and enjoyable for all. Thank you Kristen!!