As a child, Renada Harris loved swimming so much that she considered herself a “little mermaid”.
But the joy she felt in the water was tarnished when she noticed how much it damaged her hair, and using a swim cap only made it worse because of the teasing. that he inspired. Soon she didn’t even want to go near the pool.
“As I got older I had compulsory swimming lessons and I would try to avoid that at all costs,” said Harris.
Harris knew she was not alone in her situation, and that gave her an idea. She set to work to develop a product that combines a traditional swimming cap with a wig, allowing users to spend time in the water without worrying about its impact on their natural hair.
Swim Hair was formed as a business in 2017 and its patented product became available in July. Customers can select a swim cap that matches their skin tone and choose from a variety of hairstyles and colors to personalize their product. Each wig is made entirely from human hair.
Harris, a resident of Indianapolis, said Swim Hair is great for anyone who doesn’t want to get their hair wet, including those with dyed hair or perms, or for people who have lost their hair. It can be used at the beach or by the pool, in the shower and almost anywhere else where there is water.
“It’s a revolutionary way to help protect your hair from moisture or damage during water activities while looking fabulous at the same time,” said Harris.
A difficult journey
When Harris came up with the idea to swim the hair, she knew it wouldn’t be easy to make the product a reality.
Originally from Gary, Harris said she grew up in poverty in an abused community. She said it was not a place that encouraged entrepreneurship.
“When you have an idea or an invention that you want to share with the world, it’s very difficult to do it because of a lack of resources and a lack of funding,” she said.
The road to her dream became even more difficult in the winter of 2017, when the furnace in the house she rented with her husband and three young daughters stopped working and her owner could not afford it. to fix. So the young family moved to Indianapolis to live with Harris’ sister until they found a way to get back on their feet.
But for Harris, who was in her final semester at Purdue Northwest University in Hammond, that meant a five-hour round trip to class so she could finish her sociology degree – with her daughters at the trailer. The older two were in daycare in Gary, but the younger – who was 1 at the time – had to go to class with her mother.
“It was very difficult,” said Harris. “It was so difficult, but I had my mind and my faith on the prize, and I held it.”
Harris persevered and graduated from college in 2018. She now works as a Credit Solutions Advisor for Bank of America in Greenwood. Through it all, she also continued to pursue her entrepreneurial dream.
‘Back in the water’
Soon after moving to Indianapolis, a mutual friend introduced Harris to Kiahna Davis, who had successfully started his own business. Harris offered Davis bath hair, and while she liked the idea, she couldn’t get involved in the product at the time.
About two years later, women reconnected when Davis, a Carmel resident who founded and owns an accounting firm, was a client of the bank where Harris worked. They decided to meet again to discuss Swim Hair, and this time Davis jumped on board, becoming the company’s chief financial and operating officer.
“I appreciate the positive outlook from (Harris), and that’s what I think it takes to be an entrepreneur. You have to believe in yourself and what you’re selling, and she really embodies that, ”Davis said. “As for the product itself, who would have thought? It sounds simple: you put on a wig with a swimming cap. These two things exist individually, but putting them together to solve one of the most pressing issues and obstacles that keep a lot of curly girls from going swimming, to me, that just sounds awesome. ”
Harris said she hopes Swim Hair will encourage more people – especially in the black community – to embrace the water and learn to swim. Drowning rates for black children aged 5 to 18 are “considerably higher” than those for white or Hispanic children, according to a 2014 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 2017 study by USA Swimming also reported that black children are much less likely to be able to swim than white or Hispanic children.
“I am here to raise awareness about the fundamental life skill of swimming,” said Harris. “Learning to swim is a life changing event that can save your life and the lives of others. People in my culture are drowning at an alarming rate, and that stems (in part) from the fear and anxiety associated with getting their hair wet. The criticism I get is that people are back in the water, and that’s what it is. ”
Learn more at myswimhair.com.