Law graduate, 23, launches UK’s first multicultural hair and beauty booking site


INNOVATION: Princess Onitilo

BORN IN London to a Sierra Leonean mother and Nigerian father, Princess Onitilo has always had a calling of excellence in her life.

Having graduated with honours from Warwick University with a degree in Law and Sociology the future seemed set for Princess but her entrepreneurial spirit has led her down a different path with the launch of Tress Free.

The idea for Tress Free transpired after Princess regularly struggled to find quality Afro-Caribbean hair and beauty specialists.

Her frustrations inspired her to teach herself how to do her own hair but she soon realised that there was a gap in the market, particularly in The Afro-Caribbean hair and beauty community.

“I loved the creativity, new styles and techniques that continually emerge however I had no faith in hairdressers without a visual portfolio or long standing customers that could vouch for their skills. Instagram has helped many hairdressers and make-up artists showcase their work, which reassures sceptical customers like myself. However I dreamt of a central hub where you can compare and contrast different stylists in an easier way,”

Tress Free is an innovative hair and beauty website that liberates customers by allowing them to specify exactly what they are looking for and narrow down their search according to location and date. The website provides a convenient way to find experts and book beauty appointments in advance and on a “last minute” basis and is the first of its kind in the UK dedicated to Afro-Caribbean beauty.

As well as complete transparency, which allows visitors to the site to compare prices, quality, and reviews, customers will find up-to-date, money-saving offers and special discounts for regular bookings. Sure to appeal to busy women who seek convenience, the advanced search facility offers a modern alternative to trawling through directories for Afro-Caribbean hairdressers, makeup artists, and beauty therapists.

Tress Free looks set to change the landscape of the Afro-Caribbean hair and beauty industry within the UK where multiculturalism and true inclusion is still in the spotlight.  In the UK, £5.25 billion is spent on hair care – and UK black women account for 80% of total hair product sale.*

There is a huge market in the ethnic minority space, in 2012 Habia* found that whilst there are 35,704 salons in the UK only 302 are African-Caribbean, this does not account for the Afro-Caribbean mobile stylists or stylists who rent chairs in other salons. These figures only focus on hair, the immense opportunities in ethnic minority beauty and skincare have not even been studied.

By using technology to provide a platform for a diverse range of hair and beauty practitioners, Princess hopes that the mainstream beauty world will take notice and start featuring more diversity across the board.

“Coming from a second generation African household, I have seen first-hand how far hard work and determination can get you. When I was born my family and I started out in a cramped bedsit with shared bathroom facilities, and now we are living in a four-bedroom house in North West London.

She added: “From a young age my parents always told me that I can do anything I set my heart on, and this is something that I have applied in all aspects of my life. I don’t feel constrained by the double jeopardy theories of being black and female. I believe that success is inevitable when passion meets hard work and determination.”



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