Johan Roa, an experienced hair stylist of three decades, embarked on a personal mission in 2011 to address the challenges posed by his daughter Valerie's unruly and curly hair. At the age of four, Valerie would endure discomfort, screaming, and crying during the detangling process. Johan, determined to alleviate her suffering, struggled to quickly untangle her knots while washing her hair, making their mornings a painful experience.
Driven by frustration, Johan leveraged his cosmetology expertise and began testing numerous hair products available in the market. Despite finding some excellent options for various purposes, he couldn't find any that effectively cleaned and conditioned his daughter's hair in a short amount of time.
With his extensive 30-year experience as a cosmetologist, Johan trusted his instincts and took matters into his own hands. He delved into the world of chemistry, educating himself to formulate his own line of creams, conditioners, and shampoos.
After a year of dedicated effort, Johan successfully developed his first batch of shampoo and conditioner, which showed promising results. It was at this juncture that he derived inspiration from his children's names. By combining the first two letters of his son's name and the first two letters of his daughter's name, he came up with the word "MAVA." This moment marked a shift in his vision for this endeavor, as he realized the potential to help others and offer alternative solutions through MAVA.
MAVA's origin was not as a product intended for commercial sale. It began with a father, Johan, who had a background in cosmetology and was searching for a solution to his young daughter's hair problem.
With this shift in motivation, Johan realized that there were many parents facing similar challenges without any viable solutions. Specifically, there was a lack of hair care options in the market for curly and knotty hair in young girls (which later expanded to include all hair types).
Johan's education in chemistry and cosmetic formulation continued, spending countless hours in his makeshift lab in Queens, NY, formulating batches of hair products. Through patience, perseverance, and trial and error, he honed his ability to achieve the desired results. During this time, he created a curl-defining hair cream that would later become part of the MAVA product lineup.
Reflecting on his journey, Johan shares, "I approached this issue not only as a hairstylist but also as a parent. As a hairstylist, I had experience with various hair types, but as a parent, I was unaware that young children don't secrete significant oils on their scalp until puberty. Throughout my time in the lab, I found answers to many of the questions I had as a parent and a hairdresser."
The experience of self-education and formulating his own hair products profoundly influenced Johan's journey as a cosmetologist. It further shaped the evolution and brand positioning of MAVA. Johan remarks, "Being behind the scenes, witnessing production and product formulation, has helped me understand the market and gain knowledge in treating difficult hair and finding solutions to common hair issues rather than just alleviating the symptoms."
Through this process, Johan gained insights into the hair industry. He observed the abundance of claims made by brands regarding their product effectiveness, often relying on marketing tactics. Drawing from his firsthand experience with many of these products as a hairstylist, Johan understands the importance of distinguishing between merely selling a product for commission and providing clients with genuine recommendations and solutions. This philosophy remained unchanged as he transitioned into his own business. He explains, "My aim as a cosmetologist was never to sell products solely for the sake of commission. I wanted to prescribe solutions that genuinely addressed my clients' concerns. This philosophy has continued to shape the brand's position."
This philosophy has led MAVA to prioritize educating clients rather than simply selling products. They offer direct communication, providing advice on developing personalized hair maintenance systems and product recommendations. The MAVA line serves as a supplement to this education. This approach fills the gap in the market between suppliers and consumers, offering guidance and information beyond the confines of the salon experience.