Gina is synonymous in pop culture for her association with the TV show Martin, but for Sumana Jayanth, the name serves as inspiration for her hair care business. Damn Gina brings the sass, trends, and luxury of silk-lined hair products to consumers with an array of stylish accessories that will put the bounce back in your hair. Sumana chose to build her business around silk products because of their ability to help with split ends, frizz, and alleviating the dreaded “bed head” that comes post-wash day. Each product is designed with 100% mulberry silk fabric and are made in India where they are manually woven by silk weavers. Damn Gina upgrades the modern accessory from the standard pillowcases to turbans, scrunchies, and most recently bucket hats to help their customers stay trendy and stylish. We’re so excited to talk with Damn Gina founder Sumana Jayanth who shared her love of silk products, how the brand reflects her culture and more!
Who were some of your hair inspiration icons growing up?
I grew up in rural India watching mostly Bollywood films and most Bollywood actors have such beautiful hair! I will have to say my favorite hair icon is Priyanka Chopra Jonas because I have watched her from the time she became Miss World to now and her hair is just beautiful!
You mention getting a perm in your 20s, how did that change your hair type?
I have played around with my hair more than I would like to mention. Apart from years of consistently straightening my hair with chemicals, I also tried perming it because I had no idea how to care for my natural curls! Perming my hair only made it drier, frizzier, and also weaker.
When did you discover silk products and decide to create a business around them?
Silk is a very integral part of my culture, I grew up around the fabric my entire life. Silk saris are an “every occasion” attire for women in India. I knew it was a natural fiber and cooling to wear in the tropical Indian climate, but it wasn’t until later in my life that I discovered its benefits on hair and skin. Before launching Damn Gina, I had an opportunity at work to meet the manufacturer and learn about the production of mulberry silk, its composition, different types of weaves, and its benefits in regard to hair care. In my late 20s, when I began to embrace my natural curls and embarked on my hair care journey, I quickly realized there was a lack of quality, real silk hair care products and tools in the market. As someone who loves to design and create, I came up with the idea for our signature Silk Turban and began sampling prototypes to launch Damn Gina.
What inspired the name of your brand?
Damn Gina is a catchphrase from the 90s sitcom Martin, but believe it or not, I had not watched the show when I came up with the brand name. When I was first conceptualizing the brand identity, I wanted to create a fun, sassy, young brand around hair accessories and tools with a fitting name. “Damn Gurl!” was something that was initially suggested by a friend. When our brand designer and myself were trying to figure out if “Damn Gurl” was available, we came across Damn Gina and also the Martin reference. I watched Gina (Tisha Campbell”> and instantly knew this was our brand name!
How does silk benefit natural hair?
Natural/textured hair is more prone to breakage than straight hair so the less friction, the better. Our hair can get easily tangled, especially while we sleep which is what can cause it to break. Silk is a natural fiber and apart from its smooth surface, it is also made up of amino acids and keratin that can help with your hair’s health. The smooth surface makes sure that there is no friction while we get our beauty sleep!
Where do you stand on the silk vs. satin debate and why?
I am 100% team silk for numerous reasons. Satin is nothing but glorified plastic. Silk fiber is completely made of amino acids and keratin, two elements that are essential for hair health. This benefit cannot be replicated with satin. Silk is biodegradable, whereas satin is not great for the environment. Silk is also hypoallergenic, making it a must-have for skin health–especially for those who have acne-prone skin.
What would be the ideal products for first-time users looking to use silk?
For a first-time user, I would suggest trying out a silk pillowcase. You will notice that it not only helps with your hair’s health but also your skin! Its smooth surface makes sleep feel extra luxurious and enjoyable.
You just released silk-lined bucket hats, what was the inspiration behind them?
The inspiration came from both the Australian sun and our customers. The sun is particularly harsh down under and wearing sunscreen is a must 365 days a year! A silk-lined bucket hat provides added protection from the harmful UV rays and the silk lining makes sure that you don’t end up with hat hair! Aussies love the outdoors and when we asked our customers what our next product should be, the overwhelming majority asked for silk-lined bucket hats!
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Did you have any mentors that helped during your business journey?
A lot of my learnings about curly hair and curly hair brands, before the conception of Damn Gina, and even now, come from places like Naturally Curly! It feels surreal writing this interview for Naturally Curly because your website is bookmarked on my desktop. In addition to this, most of my friends are small business owners and we share our lessons and learnings along this journey and that helps a lot. Podcasts like Female Startup Club and My First Million are some of my favorite ways to learn and grow.
What can we look forward to from Damn Gina this year?
We’re excited to be announcing a new haircare product designed specifically for textured hair. It features some really incredible ingredients like Prickly Pear Oil, a sustainable alternative to Argan Oil, and Moringa Oil, a staple in my South Asian culture. We will also be launching a collection for babies above the age of 8 months!