Jabril Edmondson and DeShun Gilchrist were frustrated with the traditional durags they were using to care for their hair.
“The application process is ridiculous when you think about it,” Gilchrist said. “The process of putting the two strings around your head, making sure they’re flat to not leave lines on your forehead or lines on the back of your head, and then tying it in a manner so that it’s tight enough that it won’t fall off but loose enough to not give you a headache. ...
“We just felt like we could do something better.”
At the beginning of their senior year at Mercer University, Edmondson and Gilchrist began to develop a new version of the durag, a hair accessory used to lay down curls and kinky hair to create a wave-like pattern.
Six months later, on Feb. 18, 2019, they started selling the Royalty Rag and Royalty Cap, a compression headpiece.
“We wanted to improve on three main things: convenience, compression and comfort,” Edmondson said.
A traditional durag has two straps and is made of satin polyester, which is cheap and doesn’t conform to the head, Edmondson said. The Royalty Rag has only one strap and is made of soft spandex that maintains moisture and provides better compression, he said.
They also added a Velcro strip on the one strap, so it lays flat automatically and does not leave lines on the head or cause a headache, he said.
The Royalty Rag is the flagship product of Edmondson and Gilchrist’s company, Royalty Headwear. On their website, royaltyheadwear.com, along with the rag, they sell the Royalty Cap; satin pillowcases and satin-lined ball caps. A pomade is coming soon.
“After we created the rag, it only took three or four weeks to create the cap. And once we created the cap, we realized we weren’t just going to be a durag company,” Edmondson said. “So we created Royalty Headwear, which is going to encompass hopefully everything in hair care.”
So far, Royalty Headwear has sold products in 48 states and nine nations, he said.
“We’re at the stage where we’re growing,” he said. “We’re trying to double our revenue for this year.”
In 2019, Royalty Headwear was named to the Mercer Innovation Center’s fourth class of fellows. As a fellow, the company receives funding, office space, paid student interns, mentoring and more to help grow the business. Royalty Headwear also won second place in the Center’s The Next Big Idea competition, which helps student entrepreneurs launch their businesses.
Edmondson and Gilchrist have since graduated, both earning a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Stetson-Hatcher School of Business. Edmondson majored in human resources management, and Gilchrist majored in sports marketing and analytics.
Royalty Headwear is keeping them plenty busy.
“The goal is to be seen as the most innovative hair care company,” Gilchrist said. “That encompasses everything from durags to conditioners, shampoos and whatever the case may be.”