Amber Byrd was in class one day when she sketched out an idea for a new product. Now, she’s brought her vision to life, and her product is in the final testing phases.
Byrd, who graduated with a marketing degree from Mercer University in 2021 and was on the softball team, has developed a hair tool called the BraidAid. In April, she won second place in the Mercer Innovation Center’s Next Big Idea competition, and she’s using her $1,000 prize to secure a patent.
“It’s a parting tool for people that do braids often. You don’t have to pick it up or put it down; it just stays on your finger the entire time you’re braiding. It tries to make whatever hair style you’re doing go efficiently and as quickly as possible,” Byrd said. “It has functionality that no other product has. It’s convenient. It has the quality of a comb and hair precision tools, all in one.”
BraidAid is the first product for AB Glitz, a company Byrd started in high school. She has sold makeup and hair products and braided people’s hair through her business, but she recently became serious about AB Glitz and decided she wanted to create an original product.
Byrd took the sketch of her product to the Mercer Innovation Center, and Director Stephanie Howard connected her with Jabril Edmondson and DeShun Gilchrist, the owners of Royalty Headwear. They are now partners on Byrd’s project.
“They helped me make my idea come to life. They just made it a reality. I know I would have never been able to do it without them,” she said.
The current production method for BraidAid is 3D printing, for which Mercer Engineering Lab Coordinator Sagar Patel provided assistance.
The product is going through its final testing phase, and Byrd hopes to be able to start selling BraidAid soon. From there, she’ll work to bring awareness to the product and hopefully start expanding upon it and her business’s offerings.
“We’ve been working on this a very long time. We want to get it out there as soon as possible, but we’re not rushing the process because we want it to be of quality,” Byrd said. “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from it, and it’s all been positive, so we’re really excited about it.”