News and Commentary

White Designer Accused Of ‘Cultural Appropriation’ After Marketing Silk ‘NiteCap’

On July 19, Fashion Magazine published an interview with entrepreneur Sarah Marantz Lindenberg, who markets and sells a product called the NiteCap.

When a dermatologist told Lindenberg that her long hair might be contributing to her breakouts, she began to search for a solution. After “clips kept falling out, [and] ponytails gave her a headache, and silk scarves, while effective, proved impossible to master,” Lindenberg designed the NiteCap, “a washable silk hair wrap that aims to protect both skin and hair,” according to the interview.

Lindenberg admits that similar products indeed exist, but that none of them satisfied her particular needs — the NiteCap is made from sustainable, “washable silk,” and manufactured locally in Canada.

Lindenberg even stated:

Many people have told me that their grandmothers wrapped their hair, and my aunt recently told me that my great-grandmother wrapped her rollers in toilet paper after it was all styled and set. That was a lot less glamorous than my product, but the practice has been around a long time.

This didn’t stop an onslaught of criticism claiming that Lindenberg was appropriating African American culture:

Oh Canada. Still praising Christopher Columbuses? Still sweeping stuff under the rug? Anyone can turn the corner and give a small business owner their money at a beauty supply store for a BONNET. So many eyes saw this article. This isn’t groundbreaking. This is erasure. Do better

“There were products on the market but none of them had a functional and fashionable solution for me — synthetic fabrics that I felt did more damage, or horrible colours that I felt silly going to sleep in.” <—— oh okay. Yep. Uh huh. Yeah okay.

Seriously, as a white woman with curly hair and the internet, I can say with 100% confidence that there is NO WAY she did not know about bonnets, and that they were invented by Black women.

This is straight up FOOLISHNESS! Now that a white woman is marketing something black woman have worn (and perfected) for at least ALL MY 46 YEARS, it’s a THING? GTFOH!

This level of blatant, audacious culture-vulturing is honestly stereotypical at this point. Way to keep up the time honored tradition of “first insult and ridicule, then copy and profit off of.” Black women everywhere looking at this…

Lindenberg has since apologized via Instagram:

NiteCap was developed because I was searching for a product that looked and performed exactly the way I wanted, for my own personal use. It was important for me that the product was produced locally in Canada and made from natural fabrics. A small business grew quickly, but in the process I failed to connect it back to the broader historical context. We stand with those who are hurt, and we respect and hear their voices. We’re committed to honouring the historical significance of hair wrapping and this will now be part of our approach.

Additionally, the Fashion Magazine piece has inserted an editor’s note regarding the “long history [of bonnets] in black hair culture.”

Lindenberg offered further comments to TODAY, stating in part that she never claimed to have invented the idea of wrapping one’s hair at night, and that her design was specific to her needs, made sustainably and by local women.