Interview with Ciara May, Founder and CEO of Rebundle
Tell me about your business, Rebundle. Can you describe it in 2 sentences?
Rebundle is a synthetic hair brand that is better for the scalp and better for the environment. My mission is to eliminate single-use plastic waste and skin rashes from the hair.
When did you start Rebundle and why?
I was working at Johnson C. Smith and my boss was flexible and one summer I got really into sustainability. To rewind a bit, when I joined VFA (Summer of 2018) I was completely bald and was wearing braids back to back for months. My head was on fire all the time from the itching. I started researching what the hair was made out of and realized a lot of women were having the same issues. Simultaneously, I found out the hair was made of plastic and I wanted to find a way to recycle it. The point of Rebundle was to stop the waste and stop my scalp from itching. I immediately knew Rebundle was a viable business. I thought of the idea last June (2019) and applied for my first grant in July. I have always been entrepreneurial in nature and so I had the resources to start putting my ideas to paper. The first thing I did was call anyone who might be helpful and conduct customer discovery.
Now, what’s one thing we should know about Ciara that most people don’t know?
I’d like to think that my superpower is figuring things out and calling on people for help. I think this is a unique skill that not many people realize can help get your company from point A to point B. I get really creative to get the answers that I need.
Has Rebundle made any pivots recently due to COVID-19?
Since pre-launch I had intended to spend this time in salons with stylists learning how to get their business. Instead, I have been calling them to do this research. I also am going to start letting anyone (not just friends) mail in their hair to recycle.
Congrats on the NC IDEA Micro Grant (1 of only 16 companies to be awarded $10,000)! Can you tell me a little bit about your application process and how you plan to use the grant money?
I came up with the idea last June, and immediately got serious about grants. I went through the UNCC Ventureprise discovery program and thought that would help me get an NC IDEA grant. I applied last year and did not receive the grant. This time around, I focused more on tangible ideas. I showed them how the funding will help me get my idea from point A to B.
I plan to spend most of my grant money on manufacturing and some on pilots with salons once they reopen. The rest will be used for marketing and my website.
What does your team look like right now?
It has been just me all this time. I actually had a conversation yesterday with a woman who has a background in chemistry. I’ve been looking for a technical co-founder since day one. I have a lot of mentors who I lean on for very specific reasons such as accounting or marketing but I am the only full-time team member.
Have you leveraged the Hurt Hub@Davidson’s network during this time? If so, how?
Yes, I have two mentors from the program. At first, I met with them on a monthly basis but now I reach out to them as needed. I speak to my mentor Louis pretty regularly. I like to figure out what I need and who has it. I spend a lot of time on the phone.
How have you or your company grown since entering The Hurt Hub Mentor Program?
Well I hadn’t received my NC IDEA grant prior to joining the mentor program! My mentor, Louis, helped me focus on proving out the business model which was crucial to winning the grant.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve made for your business? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)
Time. I left my job at Johnson C. Smith to work at a Fintech company to learn new skills. But by working at the fintech company, I had lost my time. I am now working full time on Rebundle.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Asking for help.