Chloé Elliott is the innovative founder behind a new subscription service delivering luxury haircare all around the world, the Odyssey Box. Previously living in Germany as an English Language assistant and also elected as Director of Equality & Diversity trustee in her final year of university, Chloé is also the creator of the innovative platform, CurlyGalChlo where she guides individuals on their natural hair journey.
SCHICK Contributor, Lawrencia Nelson chats with the beauty entrepreneur about her passion for wanting to educate, empower and influence greater change, starting with hair.
Can you tell me a bit about your brand and what inspired you to create Odyssey Box?
Odyssey Box is a subscription box service delivering luxury haircare from the best of black-owned brands for curly, kinky and coily hair textures. We are committed to educating, empowering and connecting our community, whilst working towards more positive mindsets about natural haircare.
An odyssey is a long and exciting adventure and that is what we believe your natural hair journey should be! My journey became an adventure when I discovered safe, plant-based, black-owned brands. I shared this adventure on my first platform, CurlyGalChlo. However, I knew I could influence greater and more lasting change and that’s when the idea for Odyssey Box came to life. My inspiration for the look and feel of the brand is the concept of travelling. The colours capture the sense of luxury, not just in the products, but from the moment you lay your eyes on a box.
What is your career background?
For the third year of my degree, I lived in Germany and worked as an English Language Assistant. It was something that I dreamt of doing from the age of 11, but reality didn’t live up to my expectations. I didn’t look like the Chloé they were expecting to teach their pupils English. I found a way to connect with people like me and that was by sharing my natural hair journey on my platform, CurlyGalChlo. It’s equal parts educational, motivational and intentional in its support of black-owned brands, allowing me to support more than 30 small businesses on and offline.
In the final year of my degree, I was elected as Director of Equality & Diversity and trustee at the best student union in the country. I used my position to plan and execute a Black Hair Workshop on campus and invited local brands to get involved. This was followed by BAME Creative Week.
The first event of its kind, it consisted of 20 events across 4 days offering students of colour workshops, panel talks and interactive classes with 40 industry experts, including Corrine Bailey Rae, Zing Tsjeng and Joe Williams. It was at this time that I had started thinking more about Odyssey Box and the impact I could have.
How do you balance a 9-to-5 with a growing business?
Discipline. You won’t always be motivated, so when motivation steps out, discipline steps in. It helps that I am resilient by nature, passionate and determined to meet the goals I set myself – but ultimately, I have to be ruthless with my time and make sacrifices.
Can you tell me about the different products you offer?
Odyssey Box is about helping you to transform your natural hair journey into an adventure. So, we help you to achieve this with bi-monthly subscription boxes, which allow you to explore a new brand every other month and receive a wash day set of 4-5 products.
Our boxes are also available as a one-time purchase, which we call Explore Boxes, allowing you to receive a wash day set without having to commit to regular orders and you can also browse individual items in our store. Whichever option you choose, we are here to guide you on your adventure.
Natural hair care doesn’t have to be disappointing, difficult or dangerous
What distinguishes the brand from other haircare subscription services?
Our product is committed to supporting black-owned businesses, not just by selling and promoting their products and services, but also by fairly compensating them. A number of brands who haven’t otherwise been able to get involved with subscription boxes have approached us because of this since our launch.
We want to work towards building long-lasting relationships with brands that align with our values. We only partner with brands that we believe in and only share products that we trust. Our focus is on brands that operate with passion and integrity and with safe, plant-based, natural ingredients. We are also sharing the adventure with children in foster care so that they can still feel connected to their community and their heritage. We are doing this by donating a box to a foster family for every 50 boxes we sell. So, your adventure supports theirs too.
Odyssey Box is defined as ‘delivering luxury haircare.’ What does that mean to the brand?
For us, it means safe, plant-based and effective. Natural hair care doesn’t have to be disappointing, difficult or dangerous. It also doesn’t have to mean jumping on the latest trends but rather laying firm foundations and working towards positive hair care experiences.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
Our biggest accomplishment till date would have to be the success of the Odyssey Box launch, which saw us securing exclusive partnerships, reaching international clients and still going and growing through the challenges that the lockdown has brought our way.
There are a plethora of businesses now catering to natural hair care. What are your thoughts on this development?
Society today has evolved since I was a child and fills me with such hope, to know that the kids of today will not have to encounter the same challenges as my generation and generations before mine. However, the motivations behind the launches of new brands and product ranges are not always in support of us.
Natural hair care is a lucrative market and as a result, it is one that many brand giants are keen to tap into. I am in support of safe, plant-based, effective hair care, which not all of the newcomers are committed to producing – making education, empowerment and community support all the more relevant.
Where do you see the brand in the next 2-4 years?
I see Odyssey Box leading and teaching with regards to our beliefs about natural haircare. We will keep expanding our offers and find new ways to reach people and include people of all genders and identities in the conversation of beauty – black beauty in particular.