The products even have the FAMU logo on the back!
Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) created a new natural hair care brand in partnership with Kao USA. The company known for their iconic Jergens, Bioré, and John Frieda beauty brands, recently partnered with the historical FAMU to produce a new haircare brand that caters to consumers with highly textured hair. The company’s CFO, a Florida A&M alum, presented the partnership as a “student challenge” to business students on campus, working with them to create branding and marketing around a new product. Wakati Hair Care, a uniquely patented natural hair care line that is changing the game, was birthed from that collaboration.
Jade Fryer, one of the students who participated in the challenge and served as a marketing intern with Wakati, spoke to Because Of Them We Can about this one-of-a-kind partnership.
“Wakati was first introduced to me as part of a case study project through a course I was taking at Florida A&M University. It was presented to us, the students, with no details about the formula or the brand. As participants in the case study, we were tasked with creating a full marketing plan surrounding a conditioner...My team placed first in the case study competition, ultimately bringing me to Kao as the marketing intern for the Wakati brand,” Fryer explained.
The students helped conceptualize everything from the name, Wakati, meaning “time” in Swahili, a homage to generations of people who have used natural hair to directly connect to their ancestry and culture, all the way to the logo design and the brand aesthetic. The conditioner that was their test subject became the first product from the brand, the Wakati Water-Activated Advanced Conditioner. Since then, the company has released the Essential Care Collection, featuring various products, including the conditioner, the Sulfate-Free Shampoo, a Wakati Oil-Infused Cream, and a Re-Activating Conditioning Mist. The products were released nationally this past January and are currently available at select Walgreens, Target, Kroger, Rite Aid stores, and online at Walmart.com.
The product line is the first from Kao, geared specifically towards natural hair textures. Wakati officials said that was always the plan and that enrolling FAMU’s business scholars in the process were critical to making sure everything aligned.
“Wakati Hair Care is committed to supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities with initiatives centered on education, legacy, and always with respect for the rich history and culture of these institutions, their students, and alumni. We wanted to create a brand that was meaningful to Black consumers and highlighted the key needs of their various hair textures...Not only were the students able to pull through insights into the consumer needs, but they also created brand elements that spoke to the cultural and functional benefit of the Wakati line. The results of this collaboration truly shaped what Wakati looks like today,” Wakati said via statement.
Fryer, who also uses the products, called them a “game-changer” that makes her hair soft and more manageable.
The company has now announced the $100,000 Kao USA Inc. Wakati Brand Endowed Scholarship Fund for students at the FAMU School of Business and Industry. Students will benefit from challenge rewards, scholarships, and donations, as well as internships and career opportunities. The company hopes that this will serve as the beginning of a lasting partnership with HBCUs across the country.
“By offering students internships and early career opportunities, our mission is to help fuel professionalism and creative thinking to set students & young professionals up as thought-leaders for the future. We plan to keep building on this foundation and commit more monetary donations and opportunities for students and alum in the future,” the company said.
“Wakati...represents a respect for where your hair has been and an optimism for all the places you want it to go,” added Fryer.
To purchase your Wakati Hair Care products, visit the website at www.wakatihair.com.
Photos Courtesy of Wakati Hair Care