Khalil Battle dreamed up the idea of launching his own natural hair-care brand for men with textured hair when he was a freshman in high school. Now, at 17 years old, he's utilised social media to build a community of nearly one million followers on TikTok and successfully launched KingCurls. Here, he shares, in his own words, why a natural hair brand like his is important. This story was told to Jessica Harrington and edited for length and clarity.
KingCurls came to fruition about four years ago. Prior to even thinking about launching the brand, I was living in New Jersey with my cousins, aunts, and uncles. Both of my cousins are girls, and in the morning before school, I would watch them do their hair routine and wondered why I couldn't have my own routine. Their hair always looked so healthy, and I wanted to mimic that. I started using their products and learning from YouTube tutorials and trying to figure out the best way to maintain my hair because it was a different texture from theirs. I had to learn on my own.
I eventually got tired of using other people's hair products and I wanted something I could call my own, so I decided to create my own brand. I never got to see myself in marketing or ads when I was in the stores; I never saw something that I could relate to, and I wanted to change that. I wanted other boys to feel empowered when they walked into the store and saw themselves. That's what makes us stand out: even though hair products don't really have a gender, most products on the market are primarily made for women.
During COVID-19, my mom and I grew closer and had more time to spend together, so I presented the idea of starting a brand to her and we began working together on it. We started to research and, because Google is free, we did a lot of research there and watched YouTube videos on how other brands did it. We had to learn for ourselves because we didn't really know anyone who could help us. Then, everything started falling into place — it was like a sign from God, everything was ordained and perfect.
Even though hair products don't really have a gender, most products on the market are primarily made for women.
The main ingredients in the Curl Styling Cream are honey, coconut oil, and shea butter, which are very much needed ingredients for 4C and type 4 and type 3 hair for African Americans and people with textured hair. We need stuff that is buttery and will help pull our natural curl, and this product defines and moisturises the curls the correct way.
My initial goal for launching was to go viral on Twitter. I wrote this tweet in July that read, "I just started one of the first Black-owned hair-care brands for boys at 16 years old! I would really appreciate a simple like or retweet to help support the launch today," which was four months before we actually went live. I was manifesting that it would go viral so that we can have a large rollout. When we finally did launch, I woke up that morning and the tweet was at 10,000 likes, and then it was at 20,000, and kept going, and celebrities were retweeting. It was a shocking moment; it felt like a dream, and I wish I could relive it again.
A lot of my supporters on TikTok purchased the product without me having to send it out to them for free — they did it on their own. It was great to have supporters and loyal people who were confident enough in me to buy the product. The fact that they loved the product was even more rewarding for me. I love to see that it works for their hair and it's something that they can use and feel confident when using.
I hope in the next few years to see my brand in Target and other stores. I want every single boy to wear their curls and wear KingCurls in their hair and feel comfortable and empowered to rock their natural hair.