There are strong parallels between Black Ballad and Antidote Street. Both companies started in 2014 and have black women at the helm. Beyond when and who started these companies, like Black Ballad, Antidote Street is committed to enhancing the lives of those often ignored in the mainstream. Yet, unlike Black Ballad, Antidote Street enriches the lives of underrepresented groups in society through hair. Antidote Street is an online marketplace revolutionising the hair industry, by providing you with the ‘antidote’ that your natural hair desires. Founded by 34-year-old Winnie Awa, a passionate, vibrant, creative soul, Antidote Street is constantly striving to elevate black afro and multi-textured hair. As our community continues to delve deeper into the celebration of curly and kinky textures, we caught up with her to discuss what is new for Antidote Street, why she caters to all curly textures and how her career in management consultancy has come in handy...
BB: You didn’t start your career as a beauty entrepreneur, you started your career in management consultancy - so what skills did you take from that industry and transfer into Antidote Street?
WA: I essentially started my career at Ernst & Young in London and my degree course was management and technology - so I started life in the technology world. Then I finished my degree and I realised I wanted to do something a bit more consumer facing and that’s when I went into management consulting. During that period, I worked across so many different sectors, from telecommunications, to oil and gas (like my dad), leading large teams at ASOS, Net-a-Porter and LVMH - I had to look for something that my heart wanted and something that made me excited to learn again. This helped me really understand how business worked and how you build big technology systems. During that time, I was still transitioning [from relaxed to natural hair] and really struggling to find the right hair products to use. This issue was not unique to me; travelling to find hair products with no advice and too busy to watch YouTube videos - it was hard to digest.
In terms of transferable skills, I longed to bring all of my skills to an area that I think needed it the most. When I think about Antidote Street, a lot of the skills are about understanding how technology works and most specifically, consumer and user experience, which is where I think the industry has fallen short. Now is the time to change things.