Dawn Myers understands what it takes to style textured hair, and it’s not just because she’s a Black woman, a cancer survivor and a businesswoman. She’s also a problem solver.

Myers, 38, said she founded her company, The Most Inc., five years ago when she saw many people — primarily women of color — struggling to manage their hair. All the while, major conglomerates were making money off the same group of customers without understanding them “well enough to solve their problems.”

Myers and the team behind her company’s brand, Richualist, wanted to create a tool that does the opposite of straightening. So they created a $400 thermal hair infuser called The Mint, a tool women could use to embrace their curls.

It sounded like a good idea to Mark Cuban and Emma Grede of ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank,” who invested $150,000 for a 20% stake — with 5% of those being advisory shares — into her product, which is manufactured in Baltimore. The episode that aired April 5 displayed the all-in-one hair tool, which detangles hair and distributes heated conditioners and gels throughout it.

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“The 150K means money for manufacturing, marketing, manpower, which we sorely need to grow the business,” Myers said. “We’re focused on manufacturing right now. But, as I mentioned, there’s so many other needs, like a legal team, patents, IP. The list goes on.”

She asked the “Sharks” to think about every other hair tool on the market, including blow dryers, straightening combs, flat irons and crimpers. She described an oversaturated market of tools to straighten hair but none that enhanced curly, textured hair.

“We’re getting you healthy, juicy curls faster than currently possible,” Myers said.

Whether you call it the raking or styling phase, the Richualist team wanted to standardize language and create a moniker for the process of minting one’s curls for definition on wash day.

For a lot of people with highly textured hair, wash day can take two to five hours, requiring a lot of attention to detail. According to Myers, Richualist saw a 50% time savings and “healthier” hair, with up to a 70% reduction of shedding, by streamlining the detangling and product application process.

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“When you have curly hair, the whole goal is volume, volume, volume. So you want to retain as much of that volume as possible,” Myers said.

Proving to investors that there was a gap in the market was just one of the hurdles she went over.

She recalled all the time it took to build The Mint’s technology, test it and refine it through multiple iterations, as well as to develop partnerships for mass manufacturing and fundraising. Now that The Mint is on the market, she wants to focus on growth.

“Tech-enabled hardware is almost impossible to get to market,” Myers said, adding that she understood that people of color including Black women — her customers — had needs going unmet because larger companies failed to see the value of those customers.

A former lawyer who lacks a traditional background in the beauty, tech or engineering industries, Myers believed in the product so much that she sold her home and cashed out her 401(k) “so that this product could be built,” she said.

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She drew on personal experience. In 2022, Myers was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer. She was extremely weak, undergoing radiation, chemotherapy and five surgeries, while trying to maintain her natural hair, she said.

“Basic maintenance and hygiene became really difficult to keep up with. And the process of maintaining your natural textured hair is very onerous — it takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of time and can be complicated,” Myers said.

“I kind of solved my own cancer dilemma with my tool. … But we’re solving a deep personal care issue for a lot of people who are struggling to take care of themselves as they age or as they endure medical issues,” she said.

Dawn Myers pitched her product on an episode of the hit ABC show that aired April 5. (Christopher Willard/Disney)

A Washington, D.C., native, Myers is unsure what drew her to Baltimore 2½ years ago, but she’s been successfully treated for cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Now cancer-free, Myers has many medical appointments and follow-ups with her medical team.

“I’m very grateful to Baltimore. And I’m not sure whether I would be here if not for Baltimore or for Johns Hopkins,” Myers said. “Aside from that, you know, my company, we manufacture here, and we’ve developed a really great community of supporters and investors here in Baltimore.”

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She said she’s grateful for the “warm tech community” that has embraced her.

“Folks on Baltimore’s tech scene have just really welcomed me with open arms and have just been incredible. I was able to plug into this space really quickly, and it’s one of the reasons why Baltimore has come to feel like home so quickly,” Myers added.

Myers said creating tech-enabled products is “expensive and complex,” but that she and the Richualist team will accommodate consumers as best they can and offer “great” deals when possible.

She’s also excited to work with Cuban and Grede.

“The $150K is really valuable, but it’s nowhere near as valuable as having people like Mark and Emma behind you, helping you grow your business. We’ve only just started to work together, but their support has been invaluable. And I’m very excited to see where this goes,” Myers said.

Penelope Blackwell is a Breaking News reporter with The Banner. Previously, she covered local government in Durham, NC, for The News & Observer. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Morgan State University and her master’s in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

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