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Dawn Myers: “Get creative about what you would like to do, then do.”

I want to shift the balance of economic power for women of colour in this country. There should be more talk about black women getting the support they need. You see black people making these huge announcements attempting to raise the funds, sometimes 20 or 50 million but never quite reaching the VC mark sooner […]

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I want to shift the balance of economic power for women of colour in this country. There should be more talk about black women getting the support they need. You see black people making these huge announcements attempting to raise the funds, sometimes 20 or 50 million but never quite reaching the VC mark sooner than their white contemporaries. Yet, it is these very women who create jobs that keep the economy strong. I believe the Paycheck Protection Plan recently issued due to the Covid pandemic laid bare the discrepancies in funding models for businesses who need it most, favoring those who already had lending relationships with the big banks.


As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawn Myers, founder at THE MOST.

Dawn is a long-time hair enthusiast who, like so many ethnic women, struggled to balance a demanding academic, professional, and personal life with a time-consuming, arduous styling routine. She brings a background in client and business development, legal expertise, and passion for easing the burden of ethnic hair styling to bring you THE MOST.

THE MOST’s featured tool, THE MOST Mint, cuts the time and effort required to style textured hair by simultaneously performing the process of detangling and product application.

Their tech turns on renewable pods — kind of like Keurig K-cups, except they distribute hair products instead of coffee. This renewable structure presents unprecedented licensing and resale potential in the hair industry. Further, our compact design and TSA compliant pods render what used to be a cumbersome, static process ultra portable. Now we can style at the gym, on travel, out of the country and wherever our dynamic lives take us, affording textured consumers unprecedented convenience and flexibility.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

This one is for all the ethnic women that were denied a seat at the venture capitalist’s table. I want to revolutionize the way black women and women of color feel about themselves by manufacturing a hair tool that cuts the time and effort required to style textured hair. The tool not only helps to detangle but also to apply product through a pre-filled cartridge designed like the Keurig cups you see for coffee.

I was determined to create a hair tool and perhaps leave a thriving company for my kids, but it turns out we are actually doing something much bigger than this. We want to position The Most as the go to hair tool for women of color and black women in particular as well as to be seen as the de facto manufacturing outfit specific to the needs of black and brown women. Black women are spending 9x the amount on hair care and hair products than the general public, yet, when I walk into Sephora, I cannot use products for 90% of the areas that I am seeking to address. Some of the items may be caustic to my hair and I can’t necessarily use their straighteners, or products that address hyperpigmentation to which black and brown women are prone. In some cases we deal with issues like scalp buildup leading to scalp issues and while big box mainstream products might be great for efficacy, do not address the hair routines of black women primarily because of the structure and texture of our hair. We are literally taking the pain points of these women and creating solutions for black women by investing in personal care starting with beauty. Much of this is deep rooted in the way in which our beauty has been invalidated in images. Our lives differ substantially from that of the mainstream, so it remains important to address these areas of concern so that our lives can be better.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

There are only three or four people including Don Dixon and Triston Walker — one of our esteemed advisors — who are in the industry of manufacturing for the needs of people of color. Yet in addition to so few manufacturers for people of color, the vast majority are men, which makes great sense for them but leaves women pushed out of a male dominated industry. Disruption for me includes bringing a woman-led perspective to manufacturing, by creating tools that can be used by people of color because as I see it, women hold the pocket book for households of color and it makes sense to think about their needs and what specific products will benefit them and make their lives better. The demographic is shifting and the company that understands how best to develop products for people who look like us are the ones who are going to win.

One of our early innovations was to negotiate with various liquid product brands, something that has never yet been done, so that you can go to the website and order the hibiscus cream or the mint gel cartridge for your applicator, then based on your subscription you will have these K cup like cartridges shipped to your address which you can then insert into the hair tool. I am taking a long vision for this process and have acknowledged that these are the very models that worked best for companies like the Dollar Shave Club.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of the first people that I got connected to in this space is Jane Carter. You may recognize her name with Jane Carter Solutions, but you should know that she is one of the first names in box retailers for women with natural hair. Just being able to connect with her off the bat and get clued in to some of the big issues and ideas that would never have occurred to me otherwise, proved substantial to my mentorship. Things like retail and distributor pricing and shelf space, are all areas that I never would have thought to address. I am especially grateful to her for giving me the verve to keep my passion ignited particularly during the startup phase while in DC where I was customarily meeting with all white men.

The second person I have to give it up to was Tristan Walker. Tristan from Bevel and Walker and Company, easily the most well known black founder in this entrepreneurial space became a mentor a year and a half into my journey. I literally had no idea what this startup landscape was prior to two years ago and I am not an MBA, so when I started with this concept, I began my journey with every podcast I could get my hands on and that brought me to Reed Hoffman’s Masters of Scale. When Tristan’s segment would come on, it occurred to me that he was no smarter than I. I don’t mean this in a derisive way, it is just to say that I began to see Tristan as the male equivalent to myself. I began to pattern my technique off his as a template for success because I had been told in every accelerator I had joined that hardware engineering was a most difficult journey and especially winding. Tristan talked unabashedly about his trials and tribulations and he is the only reason that I am here today. I reached out and told him that he was the reason why this company was growing unwittingly because of him. He has been so gracious in giving up his time. Representation matters.

One of DCs most prominent black entrepreneurs in the DC area is Eric Callye, who runs a couple of hundred million dollar startups, who did not see my vision at first but eventually got it and stayed on board to make sure that the KPIs were right. My family and my friends who gave of their time have been wonderful, my significant other who has been so giving in holding a space for my stress who did not see the vision of it at all but was a huge supporter and even my seventh grade social studies professor, have all served to help with events and odds and ends when I didn’t have the money served as my backbone the entire time.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  • “Chillout and take care of yourself”. The most sound advice came from Tristan around the time that we were going to launch. I called Tristan three weeks beforehand with these metrics I had been given that I was truthfully unable to produce. A successful launch would dictate 30k in revenues I was told, but I did not yet even have a product in my hands and found myself anxious and losing sleep over the fallout from possible failure as well as wanting to meet all of these abstract metrics.
  • “Do what you can do in a day” Tristan said, rather than to flog yourself for not having done more. He reminded me that it didn’t make sense to meet the VC metrics when it was most unlikely that a VC would even contribute to the success of my venture. Venture Capitalists are difficult to snag, he reminded me and once you get them on your team, they can be difficult to handle. They are less likely to invest in woman-led black products and especially that of a hardware company, that was the bad news, the good news is that if frees you up to rely on crowdfunding and a small subset of investors including family and friends to reach your next milestone. For every bad thing that happens there is an equal and opposite reaction for what is a good that also will.
  • “Get creative about what you would like to do, then do.” Also, be concise! Lean more on the people who are excited about your product offering. This was great advice I garnered from Mandela Schumaka Hodge Dickson of Founder Gym — she’s an incredible business owner in her own right who runs an accelerator that focuses on under-represented founders in engineering. We were doing one session after another on pitching in 20 seconds or less and was adamant that any slide presented to VCs should have the least amount of writing possible. Mandela was instrumental in ensuring that my marketing material was accurate and was another incredible person that I was able to get in touch with.

How are you going to shake things up next?

I emancipated myself when I was 17 years old. I worked one or two jobs to take care of myself. Today, I am a lawyer and it shows up in my daily practice. I liquidated some assets and came into this venture with a decent amount of cash, several degrees, work experience in several countries, a background in law and when I walk into an investor meeting, any investor meeting, consistently they tell me that they have never yet seen someone more diligent, more polished, more together than I. But as a black woman in business I have still not been successful in closing venture capital money. This has been the most frustrating part of the experience as I watch my contemporaries, younger than I with few to no degrees and little experience, get funded.

This is what has inspired me to formBlack Women Ventures. Our entire thesis is to connect black women to investors in bringing in the capital that they need and we have even discussed the possibility of putting a fund together. Most of the members do not have MBAs, business backgrounds or tech degrees. Having women large and small with afros start to think about the possibility of owning a billion dollar company is the way to pull more people into the ecosystem and this is what excites me most!

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I am an avid consumer of Reed Hoffman, Guy Roz’s How I Built This, The Pitch, The Techish Podcast and so many more. Just being able to hear the story of other founders is super inspiring. It also helps to remind me that there is not one way to skin this entrepreneurial cat. I feel like podcasts are one of the few ways for us to hear how people survived that entrepreneurial landscape. Being able to hear the stories of other founders is super enlightening, a way to garner gems that help you to form your own opinion and clarity on how websites and instagram accounts are polished propaganda.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to shift the balance of economic power for women of colour in this country. There should be more talk about black women getting the support they need. You see black people making these huge announcements attempting to raise the funds, sometimes 20 or 50 million but never quite reaching the VC mark sooner than their white contemporaries. Yet, it is these very women who create jobs that keep the economy strong. I believe the Paycheck Protection Plan recently issued due to the Covid pandemic laid bare the discrepancies in funding models for businesses who need it most, favoring those who already had lending relationships with the big banks.

I give great thanks to people who have come from outside the community to step in and lend their support. People like Callye Keen, a white guy from Virginia came on as an early advocate. Many people told me that this idea was too big, that engineering is too hard and Callye gave me the 411 on how to get started and acknowledged that my path was a bit more winding than the traditional tech startups. He helped to give me the tools for what to listen out for and gave the the accelerator I needed to consolidate my ideas.

I would like to see a movement where more crowdfunding more pre-sales, more reliance on friends and family and less on VCs as a way for entrepreneurs to experience growth and move forward, leaning more on the people who may have fewer resources but are more excited about your journey that will ignite the trend towards generational wealth.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Just keep going, no matter what!! South East DC! That’s where I’m from! My parents were both working class, they were both cops, and they both wanted me to get the education they knew I should have. Somehow they managed to get me into the best prep school in the community. This instilled in me a sense of wanting to make it over the hedge. These kids I went to school with had nannies and summers in France and it took me a while to catch up, but instilled in me a sense of wanting to achieve more, be more. It is a stance that I have taken with me throughout my life and what led to my work with Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and my time spent abroad in Paris and Beijing.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Find us on the web at https://themostcurls.com/ or on facebook https://www.facebook.com/dawn.myers.357

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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