Freddie Harrel has something very exciting in the works. The lifestyle blogger and entrepreneur is launching RadSwan, a conscious beauty brand with recyclable, multitextured synthetic wigs at its heart. But RadSwan isn’t just about premium coily wigs; it’s about community and encouraging positive conversations around afro hair care. We spoke to Harrel about rebranding her previous beauty brand, Big Hair No Care, into RadSwan — and why sustainability and Black identity is the direction she’s stepping into.
“There is so much effort around recycling clothes and consuming mindfully, but there’s nothing like that done around the synthetic hair industry because, not only is it mostly Black women who wear it but it’s also very much an Asian-led industry,” said Harrel. “We [RadSwan] are the first Western-based player, and we’re also the first ones to sell direct to consumer. All of those Asian-based brands, they are big groups — Outré, Sensationnel — a lot of them are the same group, and they really plan on huge volume and low margin with a network of distributors. They are made to professional quality, but there is no effort made with what happens when you are done with the hair. So we will be the first brand to recycle wigs, and the recycling program will roll out from around June 2021. We will take the hair back from you when you are done with it, so we can recycle it and repurpose it.”
RadSwan aims to disrupt the £5.5 billion afro hair market, which Black women highly invest in but are left out of the conversation when it comes to ownership. That’s why Harrel is approaching RadSwan collaboratively by working with her 200-plus thousand social media following on multiple aspect of the brand offering — styles to curl patterns, brand name, and even the aesthetic is decided on by potential customers. Made from 100 percent recycled fibres, RadSwan does not meddle with the ethics of real human hair and instead creates high-quality, affordable synthetic wigs that can be returned to the brand and safely recycled through an independent waste management company.
Image Source: RadSwan
The brand is starting with three wig styles or “RadShapes” in two colours 1B (black) and 2 (dark brown) to launch in late November 2020, with pricing to be confirmed. Once the first RadShapes are available for purchase (which is approximately in late November in Europe), RadSwan will expand into lifestyle merchandise (shirts, scarves, stickers), with more wig styles and curl patterns to be added. Each RadShape wig is fitted onto a delicate lace cap that complements your skin tone, so that the synthetic hair looks like it’s really coming out of your scalp. To enhance the natural look of the lace-front wigs, RadSwan collaborated with lingerie brand Nubian Skin — a pioneer in nude undergarments for women of colour — to create the brand’s trademarked RadGrip wig caps that match a diverse range of Black and Brown skin tones to create a natural illusion hairline.
RadShape 01 replicates type 4b to 4c hair and is described as “grounded in texture, volume, and grit. It gives you the natural texture we all love, with lustre, and envious amounts of fullness. Tease, fluff, and max out the kinks and coils.” RadShape 02 matches the texture of blown-out and heat-styled type 4 hair with “deep, energetic, and dreamy spirals and buttery soft, textured strands that effortlessly frame the face.” RadShape 03 is great for 3b to 3c hair and “serves corkscrew curls from root to tip, a natural vibrancy, and bounce. It offers the curl definition we all crave, without the crunchy gels, crispy finishes, and sticky mousse.” Each wig comes with a reusable, water-resistant wig case and instructions for beginners on how to cut, style, and customise your RadShape.
“With RadSwan, we want to focus on the expression of Black women and how I grew my community,” Harrel explained. “So we have a content site that is launching with RadSwan called Black Like Me as a part of our manifesto — where I’m not Black like my cousin, or my sister, I’m Black like me — and that really resonated with people. So, it’s the individual we focus on, on vulnerability and representation. We also have some merch around Black Like Me, like t-shirts, sleeping masks, and three designs of scarves, and our RadShape wigs come with beautiful, consciously made zip cases.”
Ahead, a closer look at RadSwan’s launch collection — RadShapes 01, 02, and 03.