Sometimes the greatest ideas are the fragments of moments in our life where we thought “this could be done so much better.”
Nicole Baranowski’s daily annoyances with the lack of products around functional hair ties led to a solution that works for even the most crucial of scenarios. Hairstrong proved to be the product of choice for Olympic gold medalist Isabelle Weidemann at the 2019 Beijing games. There were many moments in Nicole’s life where hair shouldn’t the focus- like school, work, and the rowing team. There needed to be a real fix for hair that gets in the way, resulting in being not only a distraction but a hazard.
We spoke to Nicole about her journey so far with Hairstrong, plus details on the pop up happening at the Toronto Marathon Expo from April 29th to May 1st.
These are so well-done and handmade, can you explain the process for the production?
I first began hand sewing. It started to take too long, almost two hours for one. I ended up working alongside local seamstresses in London, Ontario and ordered materials from suppliers in Canada or the US.
How did you start out?
I launched the idea from observations through school and my own life, and was around the time I noticed there was a business incubator at Western. From there I began to promote through sports teams and on social media.
How did you end up getting your products in the hands of Olympic athletes?
It was a lot through personal connections from being so involved in sports. I did some cold calls, and I like to see if they genuinely like the product first. Simply asking them to try was my strategy.
Did you always envision yourself running your own company?
In hindsight I always had a drive to solve problems and do something on my own. I thought you needed a business background to do anything like this. Ultimately, I don’t want people to experience that they are the problem because the industry is advertised as one size fits all.
Any plans for product expansion/where do you see the company going in five years?
I would like to expand to other products like headbands for people who don’t have long hair. I also want to expand my focus in the athletic industry, and to explore areas like safety, police force/ firefighters who really do need these products as part of their job uniforms.
Give me a little glimpse into the Toronto Marathon expo and what people can expect from your booth?
It’s happening on Friday April 29th and Saturday May 1st and we’ll be a vendor there. I’m looking forward to having a station where people can try on and test out the scrunchie.
I think it’s important to know that Hairstrong is more than just a scrunchie. It’s not simply about the looks, it’s a functional tool.