Local entrepreneur Akosua Asare of Deep River, will be featured on an upcoming episode of Dragon’s Den on CBC and CBC Gem next Thursday, November 12 at 9 pm.
Asare is founder and owner of Essence Luxe Couture, a company that designs and manufactures high quality wigs for the global market.
Selling from Renfrew County into the global market was not daunting for Akosua. She utilizes social media platforms for marketing and client engagement and her own e-commerce platform, ETSY and Amazon to fulfil sales.
While one would be concerned that products as personal as wigs would be difficult to sell online, Essence Luxe Couture is addressing that challenge by developing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system, called Muse, to assist customers to achieve a truly custom fit.
It also presents users with a range of hairstyles suited to their physiology and fashion preferences.
This AI capability will enable Essence Luxe Couture to have a globally unique capability of offering custom wig fitting to clients around the world.
Asare recently completed the Starter Company Plus program, provided by Enterprise Renfrew County and supported by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
In addition to the valuable training provided in the four-month program, Asare was one of the participants who competed in the business pitch contest where she was one of the highest scoring businesses and was awarded a grant to help grow her business.
In an interview with the NRT earlier this year, Asare said Muse uses data from customer images to create highly personalized hairstyle designs made to suit each individual customer’s facial features, skin tone and personality.
“The customer gets a virtually immersive experience that mimics an in-salon experience, all from the comfort of their own home, and with a product that looks impeccably natural and fits them like a glove,” Asare explained.
She’s partnered with York University to develop the machine-learning algorithm that will run the AI application.
Asare believes her own experience with hair loss, which started for Asare when she was in high school, has helped give Essence Luxe Couture a competitive edge in the marketplace.
“I can sympathize with my customers in a way that many other people wouldn’t be able to,” she says.
Asare is equally proud of what she’s been able to achieve since the launch of Essence Luxe Couture.
“There are very few females in the technology sector,” she points out. “Even more so, there’s very few minorities.”
The mother of a one-year-old girl and three-year-old boy is also hoping her husband’s posting to Garrison Petawawa as an air traffic controller in the Canadian Air Force, can turn out to be a long-term thing, because she’s grown quite fond of this community.
“People have been amazingly nice and genuinely kind,” Asare says.
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