Hair-care firm Afrocenchix scoops top WeWork prize of $360,000

Winners Rachael Corson (left) and Jocelyn Mate (right) receive £275,000 with Ashton Kutcher and Migu

Winners Rachael Corson (left) and Jocelyn Mate (right) receive £275,000 with Ashton Kutcher and Miguel McKelvey at the WeWork and London Creator Awards. Picture: Matt Alexander/PA Wire - Credit: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

At nine months pregnant, most mums-to-be would be resting at home with their feet up - but not Rachael Corson.

She pitched her business to a panel of celebrity judges the week her baby was due, and walked off with the top prize of $360,000.

Rachael and her business Joycelyn Mate, from Hackney, stood up in front of thousands of people at the WeWork Creator awards at Printworks in Surrey Quays to pitch their business Afrocenchix in the Dragons’ Den style competition.

The panel of judges included Hollywood celebrity Ashton Kutcher, Vogue publishing director Vanessa Kingori MBE, app entrepreneur Michelle Kennedy and co-founder of Monzo Jonas Templestein.

The company blends natural, organic and ethically-sourced ingredients to make hair-care products for people with afro and curly hair.

Eight overall winners were selected from 800 UK finalists, across the initiative’s three competition categories – business venture, non-profit, and performing artists. Prizes ranged from $18,000 to $360,000.

“We’re ecstatic to have won,” said Rachael, 28, after scooping the grand prize. “We’re super grateful to be able to scale our manufacturing to meet the demand we haven’t been able to supply. We’re also excited to grow our team and create more jobs in STEM.”

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Rachael and Joycelyn launched the business 2010 after meeting at uni and realising they shared the same hair problems.

Frustrated that the conventional products which promised to overcome hair breakage caused by relaxers hadn’t worked, Joycelyn carried out her own research and began making her own hair oil from natural products.

Rachael was impressed with her product and the pair teamed up and went on to sell 50 bottles at a small community show, where they had lots of positive feedback.

They now work with scientists to develop their products and developing a product can take as long as two years.

The Creator Awards was set up last year by WeWork to recognise and reward creators from all over the world, giving individuals, start-ups, nonprofits and established businesses the extra funding they need to take their ideas to the next stage.