Two U of m students, Mia Wilson and Rico Ozuna-Harrison, decided while getting an education is important, it is perfectly fine to look good while doing so. These two entrepreneurs came up with a genius way for black students to get the beauty products they need without having to travel far, order it or break their pockets. Black students on campus now have easier access to black hair care and beauty products with Youniversity, a vending machine located at the Michigan Union. Youniversity sells beauty products like hair oil, durags, bonnets, edge control and more.
Founders Ozuna-Harrison and Wilson spoke with Fox 2 News about where they got the idea from and what inspired it. They said the idea originated in 2020 during the beginning of the pandemic. Ozuna-Harrison said, “I feel like the idea stemmed from social unrest that the country was kind of in.” He added, “That was the main goal of the vending machine. We want people to feel confident.” Mia Wilson said that she felt as though there was a lack of availability when everything was shut down making it difficult for her and other to obtain beauty products. “I remember the beauty supplies were closed. The only things that were open were like essential stores. Even during that time, it was really hard to get certain products for my hair type.” According to Fox 2, on U of M’s campus, 50,000 students come from diverse backgrounds, but only 4% are black. Finding convenient and affordable hair care and beauty products was a shared challenge for these students. “Because it’s not on campus, we had to go to stores like Walgreens, CVS, things like that,” said Wilson. “Oftentimes those things aren’t best suited for my hair texture or the products are too expensive.” With this in mind Ozuna-Harrison and Wilson devised a plan.
Ozuna-Harrison and Wilson worked with a program called Optimize that brought them together with other entrepreneurs, lawyers, and experts. A $10,000 grant was awarded to them for their vending machine idea. Ozuna-Harrison said, “To see people stop and take a picture made me happy. It made me feel like after I’m gone to whatever I’m doing, students are going to feel they belong here.” Wilson and Ozuna-Harrison have big plans for YoUniversity. They plan on expounding and placing a YoUniversity vending machine on every campus in Michigan such as Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University and so on.