Hair products

Students install a black hair product vending machine

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) – Tucked away in the basement of the Michigan Union Building at the University of Michigan is a vending machine selling hair care products for people of color.

“We have durags, beanies, hair glue, wild growth oil,” said Rico Harrison, co-founder of the beauty machine.

The one-of-a-kind machine was installed to meet a real need on campus.

“My hair plays a pretty big role in my overall look,” co-founder Mia Wilson said. “I’m really proud of my hair and the only thing near campus is like CVS, Walgreens. And it’s a limited selection for people of color.

The lack of hair care products for people of color has forced them to travel to places like Detroit or Chicago to find what they need. It is a journey that is not often feasible for a student on a budget.

“You don’t want to take a bus, or an uber 20 minutes and then 20 minutes back,” Rico said.

Harrison and Wilson said the university welcomed the vending machine idea when they pitched it.

“I kind of felt like they felt a little bit guilty that students don’t feel represented here and that it’s been an issue for so long,” Harrison said.

Thanks to a grant from optiMize, an organization at the University of Michigan that helps fund social innovation projects on campus, the students were able to receive enough money and guidance to start their businesses.

“We just got these products two weeks ago and people have been really, really happy ever since,” Wilson said.

The founders of the Innovending Machine hope to one day have more machines in dorms, the library, and maybe even other college campuses.

This story was originally reported by Jeddy Johnson on