Ottawa Changemakers: Sisters help curly-haired people embrace their natural style

Medjine and Mendjaly Hyppolite - Frizé Frizé
Twin sisters Medjine and Mendjaly Hyppolite are the founders of Ottawa-based hair care company Frizé Frizé. (supplied)
Editor's Note

Ottawa Changemakers is presented by Invest Ottawa and RBC Royal Bank.

Hair care isn’t always intuitive, especially for those with naturally curly hair. But Ottawa-based Frizé Frizé is on a mission to help women accept and embrace their hair with guidance — and handcrafted products. 

Founded by twin sisters Medjine and Mendjaly Hyppolite, the company formulates and distributes all-natural hair care products such as gels, creams and masks, specifically designed for curly hair. 

“Acceptance is beauty,” said Medjine. “ We want people to accept their waves, kinks, curls. It’s beautiful. And it’s freedom when you accept who you are.”

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Unlike straight hair types, curly hair can be extremely challenging to manage without proper instruction, according to Medjine, a graduate of the makeup artistry program at Versailles Academy in Ottawa. 

It’s something she said Black women in particular struggle with. When she first started embracing her natural hair, she said it wasn’t always easy to find products formulated for her hair type. 

“There wasn’t a lot in Ottawa and a lot of products were American,” she said. “Canadian products were very hard to find at the time. We also wanted to find products that were more on the natural side, less processed.”

She added that it was also difficult to find local stylists who knew what to do with natural hair. 

“We went to a salon and the guy said he could cut my hair,” said Medjine. “He did a good job, but then he stopped there. I had to go into the back of the salon and style my own hair. When you go to a salon, you want to have the full experience.”

Frizé Frizé started creating its own products in 2018, starting with a cream and a gel. It now sells a range of products for different purposes, with ingredients like raw shea butter, baobab, bentonite clay and aloe vera. 

According to Medjine, the goal is for the products to perform the essential functions of hydrating, moisturizing and enhancing the hair’s texture, without the stiffness and crunch that other products provide. 

“We wanted to have a gel that will keep your hair’s movement, without being too hard,” she said. 

“It’s all about wellness. We want people to accept their hair the way it is, whether it’s wavy, curly, coiling. It’s important that you know that the beauty industry doesn’t have to tell you how you should show up in the world.”

In addition to its products, Frizé Frizé also offers services, including curl coaching sessions, hair consultations and protective styling. 

The sisters also offer “curly hair parties,” where they visit clients’ homes for product demonstrations, hair care presentations and hair assessments. It’s an exercise they’ve found great success in, with clients inviting friends and family over, sometimes even bringing wine and cheese on the side. 

Mendjaly, a graduate of the Ottawa Academy Hairstyling Program and the DevaCurl Academy in New York, is responsible for providing those services. According to her, education is a key part of her work.  

“Educating people is really important because they have a hard time knowing how to do it. It starts from how to detangle your hair, how to shampoo your hair, how to style your hair. Different curls have different problems, so we cater solutions to different people,” said Mendjaly. 

“It can take a little bit longer, but once you have the technique, you’re able to do it well and be proud of it.”

In the past few years, the company has found success and, despite some ups and downs, it’s continuing to grow, with products available in hair salons across Canada. The sisters have also started to find success internationally and, last year, made $100,000 in revenue. 

More recently, they retained the services of a marketing company to increase their reach, with the goal of eventually purchasing a studio space in Ottawa and hiring employees to continue their growth.

“We want to create a wellness and beauty space,” said Mendjaly. 

Medjine added, “We want this to be everywhere. We want people to have access to natural hair products. We want Canadians to be able to have Frizé Frizé in their household.”

Ottawa Changemakers highlights entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and lived experiences who are making a difference in the city.

Invest Ottawa is Ottawa’s lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries. Guided by a vision to be a globally recognized, innovative, inclusive and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms.

RBC Royal Bank is a global financial institution with a purpose-driven, principles-led approach to delivering leading performance and creating value for clients and communities.

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