Mindy McKnight wants to make exceptional hair care accessible to all. With an impressive resume boasting more than 1.5 million Instagram followers and 5.6 million YouTube subscribers, her successful hair care brand Hairitage was Walmart’s first by a digitally native social influencer. CEW caught up with Mindy to discuss her journey in building her approachable beauty brand.

Mindy has an enduring history in the world of hair care, starting with her blog, cutegirlhairstyles.com, which she created in October 2008. The blog expanded into a popular YouTube channel and eventually led Mindy down the path of creating Hairitage, an inclusive hair care brand. The transition from content creator to beauty brand owner, Mindy explained, was not all that difficult in terms of skillset. Juggling a variety of roles, from handling her own marketing and branding to negotiating contracts, made the jump to creating Hairitage that much easier. The inspiration to start the company came from a personal place of trying to shop for clean, affordable products for her children’s various hair types.

“Hair has always been kind of something that’s floated in our family, from my mom doing my hair to me doing my kids’ hair, but the trigger point was when we adopted our last two kids. As a consumer, I started experiencing some of the struggles with finding good hair care for [Daxton and Paisley’s] hair types and textures, mixed with finding affordable hair care. Kind of thinking, nobody’s really doing a good job of speaking to all the different types of families and diverse hair needs and I think it’s something we could do really well.”

When it came to filling in the areas where Mindy didn’t have prior experience, such as product formulation and forecasting, she went to global beauty brand incubator Maesa to build up the range of merchandise. On collaborating with Mindy, Tara Brown, Group Chief Marketing Officer of Maesa, stated, “It was Mindy’s vision and purpose that drew us to her as founder, and in partnership, Hairitage was founded with the most authentic lens on multicultural family needs based on Mindy’s own family dynamic and the conversations that she was already having with her YouTube community. Together we knew we could build and grow a brand that was clean, price accessible, and with the purpose of encompassing the needs of every hair and texture type, inclusive of everyone and every family.”

When it came down to picking a retailer for Hairitage outside of the brand’s website, there was truly only one contender, Walmart.

Mindy stated, “Who wouldn’t want to work with Walmart? They’re the biggest retailer in the entire world.” Besides accessibility to the average consumer, Mindy found that when discussions originally began with Walmart, the retailer was looking to expand their beauty section with independent brands versus the CPG models they’ve used in the past. Which led to Hairitage becoming Walmart’s first digitally native social influencer beauty line.

Hairitage launched in February 2020, right before the pandemic disrupted everyone’s lives and created business issues including supply chain challenges and raw ingredient and labor shortages. However, Hairitage experienced many personal wins despite the challenges.

When the brand initially launched via its site, it held an online sale and within an hour all merchandise had sold out. Another standout moment for Mindy was when “This Is Us” actress Chrissy Metz mentioned Hairitage’s products during an Instagram Live session. She also experiences an “aha moment” by simply walking into a Walmart and seeing her products on shelves.

“Every time I go into a store,” Mindy said, “I go ‘Holy Cow, all that stuff has my name on it.’”

Today, Hairitage has several dozen products sku’s, from hair tools to styling products to accessories. The brand has plans to go into further category expansion and to release a wider selection of hair accessories.