A woman, Rowan McAnoy, smiling at the camera.
Running a business

CurlShoppe: From homemade batches to global shelves

After one too many trips to the U.S. to stock up on the affordable curly haircare products she couldn’t find at home, Rowan McAnoy had an epiphany: She would make her own.

What started as a small business making batches of products for mostly friends and family has quickly grown into a successful venture that ships to clients across the globe. Since its inception in 2016, CurlShoppe has become a beacon in the natural curly haircare market, supplying its coveted products to hair salons, beauty supply stores, and major retail outlets.

But to McAnoy, her Toronto-based company was never just a business. It's a celebration of diverse curl patterns, an ode to the beauty of natural hair, and a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that saw opportunity in a painfully underserved niche.

Harnessing creativity and innovation

Creativity and innovation drive every aspect of CurlShoppe, going beyond product formulations to the brand's website, marketing materials, and overall commitment to providing a holistic customer experience.

“I believe the stronger the brand identity, the easier it is to successfully grow your business, as it gives you a framework for the vision of your company,” says McAnoy. “I innovate all the time as I constantly think of new ways to improve our product selection based on our community’s feedback.”

“This might include fine-tuning what we already offer, or developing new products that I think will meet the needs of our customers,” she continues. “I recently developed and launched our Silk Bonnet, which was designed specifically with a large head of curls in mind, and I have some new product launches planned later this year that I can't wait to share.”

Adapting in a post-pandemic world

CurlShoppe has enjoyed many accolades, including features in prestigious fashion magazines and national recognition as a woman-owned Canadian business, but its journey hasn’t been without challenges. While the COVID-19 pandemic brought a welcome surge in demand, it also disrupted the supply chain.

Facing the prospect of product shortages, McAnoy had to pivot swiftly, sourcing new packaging and ingredient suppliers at even higher costs so they could continue producing for a growing customer base. “Since then, things have started to even out, but in general rising costs is something we are still working through and trying to navigate as an independent business,” she says.

Words of wisdom for aspiring Black entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, McAnoy emphasizes the value of learning through every experience, whether it is successful or not. Her advice for aspiring Black entrepreneurs is simple yet profound: Launch! “Often we get caught up in wanting to make sure every last thing is perfect before we think the time is 'right' to launch, but the perfect moment rarely exists,” she says.

“Obviously make sure your business has a good foundation, but there will be so many aspects you'll end up needing to change or improve, and you won't know until after you start to see how things work.”

McAnoy also shares a practical tip: stay on top of bookkeeping and receipts to avoid challenges later on. “Playing catch-up later is a huge and often expensive job,” she says. “Also, grant applications often want to have a peek into your finances, so having that ready to go and accurate is a huge win.”

Proudest moments: From shelf presence to billboards

Reflecting on her journey, McAnoy shares moments that resonate as milestones. Seeing her face on a billboard recently was a surreal and proud experience, she says, while witnessing CurlShoppe products on retail shelves is a constant reminder of the impact she's made.

“Something I made with my own two hands is in a store for someone to purchase and bring home to incorporate in their daily lives. I forget how cool that is until I say it out loud to myself,” she says.

She also acknowledges that as entrepreneurs, taking care of yourself is paramount amid the hustle. “When I'm having a tough day, I actually just let myself be present in what I'm feeling. If that means I'm going to be less productive and eat my favourite food on the couch while watching a movie, then that's just what that day is going to look like,” she says.

“I find if I listen to my body and mind and honour those moments, I bounce back much faster and I'm far more productive in the days to come than if I were to force myself through it.” 

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Launch! “Often we get caught up in wanting to make sure every last thing is perfect before we think the time is 'right' to launch, but the perfect moment rarely exists"

QuickBooks: Ensuring a strong financial foundation

CurlShoppe's success story is intertwined with QuickBooks, a tool McAnoy says she’s used from the very beginning. From auto-sorting bank transactions to importing receipts and processing payroll, QuickBooks has played a vital role in keeping CurlShoppe's financial foundation strong.

“It has made bookkeeping and accounting so manageable,” says McAnoy. “I truly find everything to be super intuitive, which is awesome because ‘accounting’ is probably the most daunting word for most entrepreneurs.”

How QuickBooks Canada can help your business

Looking for tips to start, run, or grow your small to mid-sized business? Whether you need help with payroll or time tracking, or insights into the latest trends, look to QuickBooks Online to guide you through your entrepreneurship journey.


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