Uncle Funky’s Daughter vs. Hello Curly: What’s Really Going On Behind this Popular Natural Hair Care Brand?

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Sometime ago, I wrote about the annoyance of natural hair companies changing their ingredients, and named Uncle Funky’s Daughter (UFD) as an example of changing a cult product and upsetting several curly girls. However, the original UFD Curly Magic returned in the form of Hello Curly’s (HC) Curl Stimulator and faithful users flocked to the newly designed site to snatch up their old favorite.

Then…something kind of strange happened. On UFD’s Facebook page, they announced that they were bringing back the original Curly Magic and that they had the rights to the formula. Confusion ensued. This announcement, meant to excite consumers, only brought more questions. How could UFD hold the rights to the formula while HC claimed to own the rights? If they retained the rights to the formula, why did they change in the first place? Why didn’t the new owners introduce themselves sooner (it seems as if they only did after I specifically asked who they were on their Facebook page)? I, among others, didn’t know what to make of this. I had several people even contact me to see if I knew what was going on.

 

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Well, I did some research and got some answers (kind of). I was fortunate enough to speak with Tonya Goff, HC’s owner, about the potentially brewing conflict. Of course, this is only one side of the story, as I was not able to speak with UFD.

Tonya, who let me know that the original formula to the curl stimulator gel is not patented, made it clear that she does not want to be compared with UFD or their formula. However, it’s quite common in the marketplace for one company to analyze the formula of another product and attempt to copy it. Kind of like when you go into Sally Beauty Supply and see their GVP brand, which mimics products from Paul Mitchell, CHI, Clairol, and more, for a discounted price. Do they perform exactly the same? Usually not, but the ingredients lists are nearly identical.

However, Tonya doesn’t see this as something negative or deceitful (I may beg to differ as a consumer if UFD does not have the old formula). She said, “If there’s anything I can do to bless anyone if they want to start something on their own, I send them blessings, and if it’s for you [the consumer], then that’s good. It’s all about energy and I’m willing to share that with anyone. Hello Curly is about the energy of the brand, I remade the product the people wanted and it satisfied a need for them.” Well said. When asked about the formula, she added, “We can’t say which is which – I know she doesn’t have this one but she might have something else.”

I appreciate Tonya’s positivity, but it seems as if the decision to purchase UFD or HC is more of an issue of brand loyalty and using whatever formula works best for you. Personally, I bought the new HC Curl Stimulator and will assess how this product compares to the original formula of Curly Magic. At least I know the quality of that product was undeniable.

UPDATE: Before this article went to print, I was also able to speak with Renee Morris, who is now President of UFD. She likened their ownership of the original curl stimulator formula to the situation regarding Coca Cola changing their formula to “New Coke,” then changing it back after everyone demanded the original flavor. When I asked how the acquisition of UFD would impact this kind of situation (as the original curl stimulator was not the current formula when ownership changed), she assured me that they obtained all of the formulations associated with the brand in the acquisition, even the “archived” versions.

Confused yet? You’re not alone. Honestly, I am now uncertain as to whether I want to support either company further, because something doesn’t sound right. But, as mentioned above, it the product works for you, it works, whatever formulation it truly is.

Have you bought Hello Curly’s new Curl Stimulator? Will you purchase the revamped Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic? How do you feel about the transparency (or lack thereof) of natural hair companies?

 

This article also appears on Black Girl with Long Hair.

 

10 comments

  1. I just received my bottle of the HC this weekend and am excited to try but it’s so funny that you mentioned this because on the Hairizon site they also have the UFD. Just because I’m nosy, I checked the ingredients and they list the old (good) formula. I thought that was odd but thought maybe it was an oversight and hadn’t been updated. Really interesting but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t buy it again. I’m more concerned with the cost and the ingredients. If those change drastically again, then I’d have to leave it alone….

  2. Thank you for this article. Working in Intellectual Property, I understand the legal side of this situation. I’ve also learned over the last year and change that companies do private labeling, i.e., they purchase a ready made product and then add their name to it. So if neither company patented the product, then neither has the rights to it. It’s really quite simple. Maybe they don’t want into litigation over it….

  3. It is too risky for me to try and get attached to a product that is not on the ground and carried by several stores anymore. I have had this happen to me several times, a product that I order online from a smaller company and really works well disappears, changes, or never returns. (Ex. Donna Marie Mira curl curling gelly) So I only buy on the ground now and I am glad many stores like Target and Walgreens are expanding the brands they carry.

  4. I was reading a blog a few months ago that stated that the owners of uncle funkys daughter had gotten a divorce, thus the start of the new company hello curly to keep the product people loved on the market. It seems like the ingredients of an ugly divorce, kind of like when the creators of the green house effect (ghe method) on YouTube divorced and they both claimed they each had the “true ” method and tried to continue doing business under different names. Seems like someone doesn’t want to truly let go and is being vindictive and In the process causing alot of frustration. As a person that has never tried either product, I’m truly confused as to which one is the real product. I was under the impression that UFD had been dissolved and was no more. Smh

  5. I respect Tonya Goff. I had the pleasure of meeting her in Atlanta before this happened and her positive attitude and confidence inspired me in my personal career. Her transparency about what happened with the company was also respected. That in itself encouraged me to try the Hello Curly curly magic. The great news is I compared it to the original UFD formula and it’s exactly the same. Results were also the same and I was so relieved to have my staple product return. To me it’s the person and the morals behind a brand. I will continue to purchase Hello Curly products just because of Tonya. I believe that she genuinely cares about her customers and their needs. I don’t care if UFD claims to have the original formula because the original formula not just ingredients in the product, it’s Tonya’s spirit and genious behind her brand.

  6. Hearing statements from both sides of the arguement has made me even more thoroughly confused. I have never tried either company before and before hearing about this I didnt plan to (still wont). Im suspicious as to why UFD is bringing back the original formula even though they say it was due to popular demand. Meh. Whatever. While they figure that mess out Im gonna keep playing with Camille Rose Naturals.

  7. I purchased the Hello Curly curl stimulator for the first time and I compared it to Kinky Curly Curling Custard and it matches the ingredient list word for word in different order except Kinky Curly lists water as first ingredient and Hello Curly lists aloe Vera and has no water listed.

  8. It’s so confusing, and if I had been a customer of this company, I wouldn’t try to understand any of it since it is so confusing. I would move on to finding something new. Why should I experience any difficulties as a consumer? Let them figure that mess out while I move onto Ecostyler or Kinky Curly.

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