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Why 3 Harvard MBAs Sell Shower Caps

The Virtuosa team. Pictured from left to right are Tamara Zagorovskaya (CFO), Caitlin Palmer (CEO) and Alexandra Holtzman (COO and President). Courtesy photo

The Virtuosa team. Pictured from left to right are Tamara Zagorovskaya (CFO),
Caitlin Palmer (CEO) and Alexandra Holtzman (COO and President). Courtesy photo

Does it really take three MBAs from Harvard Business School to create a shower cap? Probably not. But it’s tough to imagine a better shower cap than one made by a former investment banker and two former consultants. There’s probably no other shower cap in the world with that much intelligence behind it. And that’s precisely what you can purchase for $34 from Virtuosa Beauty, likely the best-educated shower cap manufacturer and distributer in the history of beauty products.

During their first year in the full-time MBA program at Harvard Business School, Tamara Zagorovskaya, Caitlin Palmer and Alexandra Holtzman chose one another to be on a team in the Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD) course. The course is required for all first-year MBAs and each team must come up with a business idea to pitch in front of a panel of investors. The trio took the course last spring.

At first, the trio decided to create a food delivery company. But the idea was squelched by feedback from other classmates. So the three decided to “pivot” and look to other problems they could solve.

WHY? ‘BECAUSE THERE ARE NO FUNCTIONAL PRODUCTS’

“We had this really unique opportunity to use the resources at Harvard to work on something interesting and a problem we’ve all faced,” Zagorovskaya, 28, explains. “And one of them that emerged for all of us that have long hair was that we spend a lot of time everyday doing our hair.”

And the three are certainly not alone. Women spend anywhere between ten days and two weeks a year on their hair, according to one study. The average American woman spends between $3,500 and $4,000 a year on hair products or styling. Research from the U.K. found women spend about $50,000 in a lifetime on hair primping.

Zagorovskaya, who spent two years as an investment banker and two years in private equity before applying to B-school, believes the beauty industry has largely gone untouched by innovation and “life-hacks. “Shower caps exist, obviously, but there’s this stereotype that no one wears them and they’re from the 50s and they haven’t really been changed,” she claims. “It’s a market that hasn’t been innovated in.”

Palmer, who worked herself up to a senior associate role at PwC and then spent time in a strategy and business role, concurs.

“Why enter the shower cap market? Because there are no functional products,” she insists.

A TRENDING INDUSTRY?

While there is not much conclusive evidence that washing certain types of hair daily is a health concern, shampooing long hair daily can damage and dry out hair, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. As a result, two trends are emerging. First, women are spending more money to get professional blowouts. They are also purchasing more dry shampoos.

“The two trends were people don’t want to wash their hair and people are spending more time and money on getting it done,” Zagorovskaya maintains. “And so, how can we bridge the gap between those two ideas of people not wanting to wash it everyday but still look good.”

Enter the need for a reinvented shower cap.

“The whole vision for the company is how do we make the tools in this space smarter,” explains Palmer, 27. “How do we make them better and reinvent them to help women focus on other aspects of their lives?”