And she had an idea.
There were two trends she’d noticed: First, women struggle to find enough time in their lives to get everything done. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, college students with early classes—they’re all struggling to get back every extra minute of every day. Second, through her experience in cosmetology school, Smith had seen how long it took for women to get ready— specifically, women with a lot of hair to style. The biggest time suck in her own morning routine was the time she took using a flat iron, and she knew there must be a better way. But more importantly, if she could give women their time back, Smith knew she’d have a product that would sell itself. “Every good idea comes more from the heart than the head,” she says. “That’s the key.” This time around, her heart was telling her this was a problem she could solve.
She started with prototypes—extensions on existing flat irons to allow them to work faster, more efficiently—to curl hair in a fraction of the time that traditional irons would. She went to local beauty schools, asking for their old, broken irons, so she could take them apart and study the components, to understand the good and bad. “A lot of people have trouble with traditional products in our category—kind of like driving a stick shift versus an automatic—and it’s tiresome for the wrist,” Smith explains. “Our iron is faster, easier to use, can create many types of curls, and the curls last longer because they aren’t heated as long.”
After examining the mechanics of the current irons on the market, she decided that she’d need to redesign the iron itself to make her vision come to life. She enlisted the help of her cousin, an engineer, to design prototypes that wouldn’t sacrifice performance for time, cutting what used to take an hour down to about five minutes. Based on rough sketches, they brought in a CAD designer to create a model for manufacturing, 3D-printed the first working prototype, and launched a new business from there.
Now, just a few years later, Tyme Style products are sold in 32 countries around the world, with Smith serving as the cofounder and CEO. But growth isn’t the only thing on her mind. She hasn’t forgotten about the customer. “Our growth as a company has been rapid, but I’ve always wanted to make sure that no matter what, our customers have a really great experience. Because of that, I’ve been careful about expanding until I knew that our team was ready to give that great experience through retail as well. We’re now in the process of choosing retail partners, which we’re excited about.”
They’re also busy expanding their product line to include not just irons, but styling products, tools, and accessories. Not surprisingly, Tyme is taking a unique approach to those categories as well. On their process for creating a new shampoo: “I worked with a team of chemists and asked for our product to be focused on performance factors—on how the hair looks and feels,” Smith explains. “[The chemists] later told me that every other client had asked for trendy ingredients or organic source material, but never for performance. At Tyme Style, we’re all about how your hair performs.”