Mercer alums’ durag promises more convenience, better compression and greater comfort

Jabril Edmonson and DeShun Gilchrist

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.” 

Man puts on durag
ABOVE: Royalty Headwear co-founder Jabril Edmondson puts on the Royalty Rag. TOP: Royalty Headwear co-founders Jabril Edmondson, left and DeShun Gilchrist, are pictured in the Mercer Innovation Center.

At the beginning of their senior year at Mercer UniversityEdmondson 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 headachehe said. 

The Royalty Rag is the flagship product of Edmondson and Gilchrist’s company, Royalty Headwear. On their website, royaltyheadwear.comalong 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. 

Two men sit in chairs at a desk while looking at a computer
Royalty Headwear co-founder Jabril Edmondson, left, and DeShun Gilchrist work in their office at the Mercer Innovation Center.

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. 

Two men stand facing the camera. The one on the left is wearing a durag, and the one on the right is wearing a compression cap.
Royalty Headwear co-founders Jabril Edmondson, left, and DeShun Gilchrist model two of their products. Edmondson is wearing the Royalty Rag, and Gilchrist has on the Royalty Cap.
Jennifer Falk is director of digital communications at Mercer. She edits and writes feature stories for The Den and examines web data and analytics to drive content decisions. She also creates and supervises the creation of content for primary University web pages and e-newsletters.