A Throwback Makes a Comeback to the Beauty Aisle

By Jeanne C. James
November 8, 2016
Woman putting on spoolies in the mirror

While those who are familiar with the retro hair curler Spoolies may have noticed that it’s back in stores, not a lot of people know the reason why.

As a mother, I know what it’s like to want to provide everything that my children need to grow and succeed. Unfortunately, the ability to do that is not always a reality for some families. When our sons were young, our family lived abroad for a year in Kenya, where I saw firsthand the real need for support in girls’ education. I wanted to help provide a future filled with opportunity for these girls, and as a woman of faith, I prayed for a business idea that would support this cause.

One day I remembered how as a young girl, my mom used to give me terrible, smelly at-home perms until I finally promised to curl my hair on my own. At the time, I started using Spoolies, a quirky little curler that I could wrap my hair in every night—and avoid the frizz that came with those perms!

That product was a lifesaver for me, so it was exciting when I checked back later in 2003 to see that it was no longer being made. That meant I could start fresh to recreate the once popular brand. I finally had the answer to my prayers! Now, after years improving the design, I’m excited to bring back a revamped version of Spoolies—manufactured here in the United States.

The Spoolies I used in the 1960s were made out of latex rubber, but many girls nowadays are looking for healthier, more natural beauty products, so I made sure the newly patented technology uses medical-grade, hypoallergenic silicone and absolutely no PVC plastic. They’re also heat resistant and safe for occasions when a hair dryer is used. These qualities garnered a lot of attention at Cosmoprof, a beauty and cosmetics convention where we were chosen for a Trendsetter Award and had the opportunity to meet with buyers, such as Walmart. We were then invited to present at Walmart’s annual U.S. Manufacturing Summit and Open Call, which is a part of their commitment to spend an additional $250 billion on products that support American jobs by 2023.

Having Walmart sell Spoolies has been an incredible journey. Most importantly, it has allowed us to continue funding for Kenyan girls’ education projects. We’ve given proceeds from our sales to Sister Freda’s Foundation, which operates a girls’ high school, a college for nursing, a nursery school and feeding program for vulnerable children, and a center for HIV and AIDS testing and counseling.

When Spoolies curlers were introduced in December 2014, we began setting aside funds to help Sister Freda’s Foundation with their new high school. When it opened, many of the incoming students were poor and orphaned and willing to sleep on the floor just for the chance to be in school. To our joy, we donated profits from Spoolies to purchase bunk beds for the high school and nursing school dorms. We have also helped support the need for school supplies and food, in addition to laptops for the girls to be trained in computer skills.

Did anyone ever think a little hair curler could change the world? It’s fun to think our Spoolies curlers made for girls, will in turn, benefit many girls in need. It’s our hope for the future, and my personal dream come true.

Editor's Note: Photos by Nicole Schmitz