An Instagram account created by two American teenagers that teaches girls different braiding techniques has now gained over one million followers. The site has proved to be so popular that the girls have to spend around eight to 10 hours a week answering emails and posting up clips and have made $16,000 through advertising.
Instabraid is the brainchild of best friends Sophie Rose and Shir Ben-Zikry, two 18-year-olds, who hail from Boca Raton, Florida, and launched the account back in 2012 when they were still at school in 10th grade. The pair decided to create the Instagram account after Ben-Zikry braided Rose’s hair during a school trip:
“This was when Instagram was just starting to get popular. One girl in our school had one — she was the coolest girl in school — so Shir and I were like, ‘Why don’t we try to make an account, and see what happens? We’ll post this braid photo and see how it goes.’” Rose told Today News.
The site was an instant success and the girls started posting regular updates and photos of girls with unusual braids:
“We were lucky with the timing, because Instabraid really grew with Instagram,” Rose says. “We were the first braiding account and one of the first hair accounts, so that was the biggest component, I think, that lead to success.”
Now the site has some pretty famous celebrity followers, such as Emmy Rossum and Paris Hilton, and the aim for serious braiding fans is to get your braided hair featured on the account. In fact, one traffic anchor for NY1 News in New York and food critic for thetvdinner.com, Jamie Stelter, said it was her “summer goal.”
“Like any girl, I love braiding my hair in the summer,” she says. “I think it’s the easiest, low-maintenance way to do your hair without using any products or heated tools. And it looks really cute — much cuter than just pulling your wet hair back into ponytail or bun.” Stelter added: “They find the best the braids on the Internet, and they show all different hair colors and lengths,” she says. “It’s fun. I mean, who doesn’t love a good braid?”
Stelter’s dream of appearing on Instabraid finally came true, and it was her husband who gave her the good news:
“And the next morning, I woke up to my husband, who had picked up my phone because I was sleeping, who was like, “Oh, my gosh, you made Instabraid!’”
One hair stylist that thinks she knows the secret of Instabraid’s success is New Yorker Kayley Pak, who works at the John Barrett Salon as a braider:
“I think braiding has remained such a popular trend because it is a quick and easy effortless style, which looks very natural and feminine. Braids make women feel youthful and fun.”
Pak says the milkmaid, low-crown and waterfall are the most requested braids at the salon, where prices start at $50. Lee’s Braid Bar features a menu with eight looks to choose from (all have been done on celeb clients), with styles starting at $35.
Rose thinks that as well braiding giving a youthful look, the most complicated styles are very easy to achieve,
“People are bored of the same simple hair down and hanging in your face look,” she says. “It’s a new twist and people are always interested in new and different styles.”