From Shanghai Struggles to Textured Hair Empowerment: The Journey of 4ever Curly

Embracing my natural curls

Before boarding my flight to live in Shanghai for a semester, I had packed a suitcase FULL of natural hair care products. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to find any conditioners or creams for my type 4 hair in Shanghai, my new home for 4 months. I understood that, in China, my hair was an oddity and often got stares, so I wished to give the people something nice to look at and take good care of my fro. But despite my planning, I ran out of product and spent my last month in Shanghai with dry, unmanageable hair. I wore a hat every day and felt self-conscious of my curls and coils that I usually wore with pride.

This experience inspired me to curate 4ever Curly, a zero waste hair care brand for textured hair. Whether you were eco-conscious or a wanderlusting traveler, I hoped to support others on their natural hair journey wherever they were in the world. With compact shampoo and conditioner bars for curly, kinky hair, you would never be without the best hair care to keep your coils.

Although my time in Shanghai was challenging, it fueled my determination to make a difference in the world of natural hair care. I hope to return to this passion project one day, expanding 4ever Curly’s reach and providing accessible, sustainable hair care options for everyone. With the lessons learned from my own struggles, I aspire to create a brand with others passionate about natural hair care that celebrates and embraces diverse hair textures, empowering individuals to feel confident and beautiful in their natural state, no matter where their journey takes them.

Exploring Shanghai: My Internship Journey in the Heart of the French Concession

September 2018

During the fall of 2018, I was an intern at Rethink Manufacturing Solutions, an American-owned startup manufacturing consultancy in Shanghai’s Former French Concession. Rethink is owned by two young entrepreneurs from Portland, Oregon. Their objective is to connect American and European startups with Chinese manufacturers for their manufacturing needs. My supervisors were amazing to work with and made my time in Shanghai a period of professional growth. As an intern, my jobs included creating and managing social media, writing articles about sustainability practices within China’s manufacturing industry, and developing ways to ease contact processes between Rethink and their clients. 

As an environmental studies major with a passion for entrepreneurship, I found this internship to be quite beneficial. Prior to accepting the offer, I was hesitant to agree to work with Rethink partially because of the bad press China’s manufacturing industry receives. This industry rightfully deserves such media coverage; China’s manufacturing industry is the main contributor to air and water pollution in the country, not to mention poor working conditions in many factories. However, during my time at Rethink, I learned that, while much of greater China is far from adopting better Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices, some factories do exist that pride themselves on their sustainability practices and working conditions. Foreign manufacturing consultancies such as Rethink do their best to place their clients with such factories with high CSR values. While at this point in time, it is impossible to always match American and European companies with factories with the best CSR values, in a decade, it is my belief that China will offer more factories for those who view sustainability as a paramount practice in their supply chain. 

While I grew much as a professional in the sustainability field as an intern at Rethink, I was also able to explore a part of Shanghai not easily accessible from Fudan University’s campus. Working in Shanghai’s French Concession, I had easy access to many amazing restaurants and cafes. It is important to realize that Shanghai’s French Concession is a bustling part of the city that is home to many foreigners with a long history starting in the 19th century. For this reason, this area contains a diverse range of eateries, from Tacolicious, a delicious Mexican restaurant, to Pain Chaud, an aromatic coffee shop, not to mention the many restaurants offering the best Shanghainese cuisine offered in the world. The French Concession represents the immense diversity and entrepreneurial spirit found in Shanghai. 

In this part of the city, I never felt out of place. I developed a sense of belonging that I never thought I could have experienced in China. I came to realize that, during my semester in Shanghai, I was able to exist as my most authentic self. Shanghai became a second home.

Getting work done at a café in Shanghai’s Former French Concession.

My Patent Experience

As I continue along my journey with Z Spools, I approach a significant milestone: filing a utility patent. My patent experience began last summer when I filed a provisional patent (allows you to safe guard any intellectual property for a year). Because I pitched Z Spools at a competition that was filmed in the spring of 2017, as to maintain the ownership of my IP, I filed a provisional patent knowing that I would have one year to complete necessary research as to compile data for a utility patent. Well, the time has come! It is July 2018 and I have one month until this deadline arrives. Currently, I am on track to reaching this goal which is perfect because in late August, I leave for Shanghai for a study abroad program! Things are looking up!

So happy to be on this intersecting path of sustainability and technology; Just a day in the lab working with my filament!

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