Like a lot of entrepreneurial ventures the relatively new Oak Park business, Steeltooth Combs, started out with a problem – but not the one you might think.
Entrepreneur and Oak Park resident Nicholas Baker needed a new comb.
"I had a regular plastic one, but I thought this was the opportunity to get a better one," he said in a recent telephone interview.
Baker looked in the men's hair products at a local retail store but only found cheap plastic combs like the kind he previously owned.
"I figured there was going to be a cool plastic comb, but it wasn't there, and I was surprised by that," he said.
After a search through the men's hair-supply section, Baker realized he had to go to the women's section to find what he was looking for.
Unsatisfied with his search, he turned to the internet to find a quality comb, but most of the combs he found went for between $30 and $50, he said.
And then a lightbulb went off.
"I thought that there has to be a way to reduce the cost of these combs and get one made out of steel," he said, lamenting his burly head of hair, which, he said, has always been hard to get a plastic comb through.
Baker, who works in the finance tech industry for his day job, continued his research and ultimately launched Steeltooth Combs in 2017.
"I thought I could build a brand around men's combs because no one is doing that," he said.
Baker continued with his business, eventually shifting to the concept of combs that are geared toward helping people with thick hair.
They sell for between $16 and $23.
He said the business has experienced steady growth, and he's selling them not only through his website but at a couple of barbershops – one in Los Angeles and the other in an Oak Park shop called Dapper, 745 Garfield St.
Steeltooth also donates 10 percent of its sales to the charity Children With Hair Loss, which donates wigs to children with cancer.
Baker said he began donating to the charity through his sales on eBay, but he eventually started donating 10 percent of all of his sales to the charity.
"The hair on our heads is central to our identities as human beings," he said in a recent press release. "We walk around with it all day, style it one way, cut it another, and use it to make us look and feel like our best selves.
"Losing your hair in a sudden fashion due to cancer takes that element of our identity away which is detrimental to our psyches and self-identities, but this is even more profound in children. We will do all we can to repair that."
Answer Book 2019
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