amika universe

checking in with our rooted in growth grantees

rooted in growth program sogal foundation
model posing
Jacqueline Aldana
Community Manager

last september, we introduced you to the recipients of our Rooted in Growth Startup Program, an initiative in partnership with the SoGal Foundation that provided grants of $25,000 to underrepresented industry innovators–helping to close the inequity gap in the haircare industry.

after thoughtfully considering over 1,500 qualified applicants, we hand-picked our inaugural cohort: 4 game-changing brands redefining standards in professional haircare. in addition to the grants, we offered Ocoa, Nappstar, Rebundle, and Halo Braid (our talented grantees!) a 6-month mentorship spanning everything from 1:1 sessions to chats with amika’s very own CEO, Chelsea Riggs.

we wrapped up 6 months of mentorship with an insightful visit to the Bronner Brothers, Inc. trade show, followed by a dinner with the founders and friendly faces from the amika team. here, our recipients share their thoughts and learnings from the Rooted in Growth Startup Grant Program. here’s what they had to say:

Cory + Nicol Varona

Ocoa Beauty

founders: hermanas (Spanish for sisters) Cory and Nicol Varona

what is Ocoa?

Ocoa is a high-end curly haircare brand inspired by our beautiful homeland of the Dominican Republic. We design our formulas to provide nourishing ingredients that help to maintain the luscious curly hair that we're all looking for. Ocoa represents a community that has been underrepresented for a very long time. We want to make sure that Latinas feel represented in the industry and can also wear and embrace who they're born to be.

how has the mentorship experience impacted you and your brand?

We are truly so grateful to be part of the Amika Rooted in Growth program. The mentorship and the connection to the Amika team have been invaluable to us. We are grateful to have learned from the experts in the industry and we can't wait to take all the learnings to Ocoa as we look to grow and scale our business.

Melissa + Annette Roche


founders: Melissa and Annette Roche (sisters!)

what is Nappstar?

We've been in business for 14 years and we specialize in everything locks. We have been trailblazing the lock industry for the last 14 years and we hope to be around forever so that we can keep this industry growing.

how has the mentorship experience impacted you and your brand?

I've been so honored to be part of this amazing program with amika. It's helped me develop relationships. It's helped me become a stronger business owner and I love the entire process. So, thank you so much, amika–it's such a great opportunity to be here.

Ciara Imani May


founder: Ciara Imani Ray

what is Rebundle?

We make the first plant-based hair extensions made in the U.S. to reduce the health and environmental disparities in the hair extensions industry.

how has the mentorship experience impacted you and your brand?

I'm so grateful to be a part of amika Rooted in Growth program where we've learned so much about what it means to build the professional side of our brands so that we can help more braiders and more professional stylists get acclimated to the idea of the future of hair extensions.

Yinka Ogunbiyi

Halo Braid

founder: Yinka Ogunbiyi

what is Halo Braid?

We’re building an automated hair braider that reduces the time it takes to braid hair from hours to minutes and helps stylists triple their business.

how has the mentorship experience impacted you and your brand?

I'm so grateful to be part of amika’s program. It's been so valuable. We've learned tons about educating professionals, developing products and building our brand. So it's been really exciting, and we're going to pour all of that into the future of braiding hair.

posted: 04/03/2024last modified: 04/03/2024