You’ve been drying your hair all wrong.
It’s time to ditch the towel and pick up a Tee-Owel, a Hudson Valley innovation made from soft, cotton t-shirt material. Owner and Middletown resident Liz Girolamo created the line after discovering an important secret to drying curly, textured hair.
As she noticed, for many, taking proper care of their hair can be confusing. To make matters worse, there’s not a lot of information in the mainstream media about every type of hair, with a particular lack of information on curly and textured haircare.
While on her own natural hair care journey, Girolamo experimented with protective hair materials. She started to come across others exploring new methods of hair care, and found the natural hair movement and the positive community behind it. Soon, Girolamo made a life-changing discovery that would not only alter how she dries her hair, but make her a successful beauty entrepreneur as well.
During her journey, she noticed that bulky towels cause damage to fragile hair. By swapping out a big, traditional bath towel with a cotton t-shirt, she was able to prevent frizz, friction, and damage to wet hair. As soon as she made this finding, she knew she needed to share these benefits with others struggling to take care of their hair.
In 2017, Girolamo launched her company Tee-Owels. Tee-Owels are specialty hair towels made of soft, organic, t-shirt material cotton designed to treat every hair type with care.
“I started to hear that using t-shirts to dry your hair is a better, more protective way of going about it and reduces frizz and breakage,” Girolamo recalls. “As soon as I discovered that it was really beneficial, I decided we need a really great product for it.”
Girolamo wanted to design a product that’s sophisticated and fashionable, but also saves women the trouble of frizz. Glamorous yet practical, the Tee-Owel is the ultimate hybrid of t-shirt and a towel. The hair-saving wrap comes in delicate colors like mint, lilac, and pink. The Tee-Owel is the quintessential updo for any self-care routine or stay-at-home spa day.
“I wanted to create a really nice product for people who are used to DIY-ing,” Girolamo explains. “I knew I didn’t want to just use a t-shirt anymore.”
Inspired to help others on their own hair care journey, Girolamo also saw a fun business opportunity in launching Tee-Owels.
“I wanted to make a sticky name and layer it with a lot of meaning,” Girolamo explains. She continued to play with words and stumbled upon her mascot: an owl wearing a Tee-Owel for her branding, an idea from her fiancé.
Girolamo began to lay the groundwork for her brand while attending SUNY New Paltz ,where she could participate in hands-on projects and learn the ins and outs of starting a business while completing her degree in organizational communications.
“I started moving towards creating the idea in school,” Girolamo recalls. “Because of just how much I went through when I was younger, I knew I wanted to give back to the natural hair community, and contribute to it. I was adopted and I’m a mixed person but my hair is really thick, so I was left out there with no information. It was really personal to me to spearhead this.”
Further developing her skills in the fashion industry, Girolamo worked with celebrity stylist Ty Hunter. Girolamo credits her internship with Ty Hunter as being pivotal in helping her establish her own business.
“It was really crucial for me to see exactly how a startup company was launched,” Girolamo recalls.
Motivated to ensure future generations with curly hair have more information on hair maintenance, Girolamo aims to be a leader and educator in the same movement that helped provide her with answers.
“It was such a blessing to find out about the t-shirt material and satin — especially for curly hair,” Girolamo remembers. “We had to relearn the science of our own hair. In learning that [curly hair] is a really dry hair type, there’s things you can do and implement in your everyday routine [for better care].”
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She notes that cotton is a terrific and gentle material for drying wet hair. Ideal for drying, it can be a little too good at absorbing moisture from hair all night for those who use cotton pillowcases, eventually resulting in serious damage. During her four-year journey since Tee-Owels launched, Girolamo has expanded her products to stylish satin scrunchies and luxurious satin pillowcases to remedy this issue.
In 2020, the company grew 80 percent, taking on international accounts with three distributors in Australia and one in Chile. Currently, the company is in the process of establishing contacts in Canada.
Girolamo has received an overwhelming response from members of the natural hair community.
“Anytime someone buys a Tee-Owel and leaves a review of how much they love the product, it touches my heart,” Girolamo shares. “It’s very rewarding to think we’re someone’s favorite hair towel.”