On a sunny Saturday morning in January, I met with Adrian Brown, Social Media Director, and Noel Durity, Director of Sales and CEO of Twist It Up, a hair care product for Afrocentric hair that looks like a miniature tennis racket.
Both Adrian and Noel, who have connections to North Orange County, were given the amazing opportunity of pitching their product on an episode of the ABC Television show, Shark Tank, which aired on January 27th.
However, since I interviewed both Adrian and Noel before the TV show aired, they weren’t allowed to talk about their experience.
Adrian Brown moved out to Southern California from Detroit, Michigan when he was nine-years-old and soon became a member of the Fullerton Boys and Girls Club. He said, “My mom was always working, so she needed me to go to a place that was somewhat safe. I went to the Boys and Girls Club from nine-years-old until I was eighteen. So that’s pretty much been my entire life out here in California that I’ve been involved with the Boys and Girls Club.”
From the Boys and Girls Club, he said, “I learned that it’s important for young kids in the community to have role models, to have somebody they can look up to. Could be an older person, but I think it’s important for kids to be around peers to learn different things and value friendship between each other.”
Adrian first met Noel at a 24-hour Fitness in Brea. Noel said, “We were just playing basketball and one of our first conversations was that he asked me how I got my hair this way. I told him that he had to keep it a secret that I was using an actual tennis racket to do my hair.”
This gave Noel the idea for the Twist It Up Comb, now the number one twist comb for Afrocentric hair on the market today. “For the first time, as a culture, we actually have a way to wear our hair that doesn’t require maintenance,” said Duirty.
“Back in 2006, this whole natural wave hit and for the first time in my life, I was able to wake up and my hair was done in two minutes. The only problem was the hair tool I was using at the time. It grew bacteria, and you couldn’t really clean it. You got to replace it over and over again, and in the span of five months, I spent eighty dollars. So, I was like, there has to be a better way.
I went on YouTube and found out that you can use a tennis racket. I’ve been using that for three years. When I went on a trip to Brazil, someone stole my tennis racket and it took me like an hour to find a new one. When I came back, I made it a point to shrink it for my own benefit and then I made it a business.”
Noel Durity comes from a family of immigrants. “We are immigrants in this country and I just think we have a mindset that you’ve just got to work,” he said. “I’m grateful and I’m thankful to be living in a country like America, where my resources and my opportunities are, compared to Trinidad, completely different.
“Knowing where I came from and knowing about the opportunities that I have in front of me, I owe it, to not just my mom and my dad, but the generation that came before them because there were a lot of sacrifices that were made just for me to be in this country. I have to make something for myself, and it doesn’t matter if I’m wrong a million times, all I have to do is be right once.
“So, it doesn’t matter that Shark Tank rejected me the first time, or the second time, or the third time. The point is that I’m doing this and at the end of the day, it rests on my shoulders to make sure that it’s successful and I’d die trying.”
Even though Adrian and Noel weren’t allowed to disclose any information about Shark Tank ahead of time, I did find out from Noel that they were rejected three times before they got accepted. “Actually, when we got there, our energy was super hype and they told us that we had to calm down,” said Adrian.
“I was just excited because I know that the kids at the Boys and Girls club can see that ‘that guy’ is on TV. You know, he’s just a normal person, but if he can be on TV, then if I put my mind to something, they can too. Not just kids at the Boys and Girls Club, but [it’s about] giving people hope that you can start something, and the next thing you know, you end up on TV.” “It’s all about hard work,” said Noel.
“It’s funny because, just my story, like if you ask anyone in Brea that knows me, I literally held down three serving jobs for three years and all I did was work. No weekends, no festivals, no parties, no life. I apply that same work ethic to anything that I do and now I’m on Shark Tank.”
Adrian always wears his Boys and Girls Club bracelet with the words, “Be great” written on it, everywhere he goes. However, they wouldn’t let him wear it on Shark Tank because they weren’t allowed to promote other organizations.
“I just always have that reminder,” he said. “I felt like a kid. I grew up watching TV shows and being like, “I want to do that one day” and it actually happened. Here we are.”
On the January 27th episode of Shark Tank, Noel Durity along with Adrian Brown and Derrall Brownlee (Executive Leader of Prayer & Part-time Twist It Model) walked onto the set with t-shirts promoting the Twist It Up comb to pitch their product, and surprised everyone on the show by doing a unique dance routine in which they demonstrated how their comb is actually used.
The dance routine was a collective effort from the three of them and it definitely got the judges’ attention. Noel ended up accepting a joint offer, walking off the show with $225,000, making Twist It Up Comb a Mark Cuban and Daymond John Company.
The mesh for their comb used to be made in China, but in a follow-up interview via email, Noel said, “we kept everything in America and are proud to say we are 100 percent made in the USA.”
Now that they’ve received the money, Noel wrote, “We get to work and help empower everyone with Afro-centric hair to embrace their natural twist.”
To watch my full interview with Noel Durity and Adrian Brown, click on the words, “YouTube Channel” on the left-hand sidebar of the website www.fullertonobserver.com front page, which will take you directly to my channel.