How two college-age sisters bought the rights to an absorbent hair towel and turned it into a QVC phenomenon.
As applications for the 2010 Inc. 500 | 5000 arrive, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. (For more information and to apply, go to http://www.inc.com/inc5000apply/2010/.) One that caught our eye was Butler, Pennsylvania-based Turbie Twist.
In 2005, new college graduate Angela Carr and her slightly younger sister Christina Cummings found themselves buying the rights for a small, super-absorbent hair towel from Pittsburgh Plastics, a company that the sisters felt was vastly underutilizing the product.
The women renamed the hair towel the Turbie Twist and set out to reconceptualize the marketing of the product. The original model, while functional, seriously lacked a customer base, explains Carr, but once they realized that the target audience were girls about her age, brainstorming improvements became much easier.
"We began asking ourselves, 'What would I like? What would I want to buy? What do I think is cool?" she says.
The duo also upgraded the product material to plush micro-fibers, increased its environmental friendliness, and offered new colors and prints. Carr says her company landed their first big break in 2006 with the television shopping network QVC, which placed the first large order with the new company.
Today, the co-owners own and operate the sole manufacturer of the Turbie Twist hair towel, with its signature elastic loop, which allows for its specially-designed shape to fit securely on heads of all sizes. The company, which now has eight full-time employees, continues to add clients, selling their product at huge retailers such as Ross Stores and Sally Beauty Supply, as well as online retailers such as Cosmeticmall.com and Cachebeauty.com.
Carr says she expects the company to continue to grow: "Wet hair, dry hair, children or adults – if you have hair, you can use this product," she says.