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University of Missouri

Mom Knows Best

MU alumna creates hairbrush with a cult following.

Rikki Epstien Mor

When Rikki Epstien Mor, BA ’96, couldn’t find a hairbrush that worked on her three daughters’ curly, thick hair, she invented one. Photo courtesy of Knot Genie.

Rikki Epstein Mor, BA ’96, spent too many mornings in the bathroom frantically trying to get a brush through her three daughters’ dripping wet hair so they could get to school and work on time. She swears she’s not overdramatizing when she says detangling their thick, curly hair often ended with screams and tears. But she promised she would never make her girls cut their hair.

When I was a child, my mom cut off all my hair,” Mor remembers. “I had short hair, glasses and my name is Rikki. Everyone thought I was a boy.”

She didn’t want to do the same thing to her daughters, so working with her husband, a restaurateur in Denver, Mor created a hairbrush that would let the family get through their morning routine pain free.

Most hairbrushes have tiny balls on the end of the bristles, but those always snagged on her daughters’ long locks, so she got rid of them. Many brushes have handles, but when Mor was combing her girls’ hair, she always gripped the brush by the head for more control, so she chopped off the handle, too.

Knot Genie

After nearly two years of perfecting the design, Mor invented a detangling hairbrush called the Knot Genie. When Mor first started Knot Genie, she was still working full time in insurance, and she only hoped to have an online store that would supplement her income.

I was just a mom trying to help other moms,” Mor says. “But the orders kept coming in.”

In 2012, Mor quit her day job to work exclusively on Knot Genie, which is now sold in more than 3,500 salons and has been featured on the Today Show Oct. 6, 2012, and in the December 2012 issue of Parents magazine. In 2013, she won two silver Stevie Awards for Women in Business — female entrepreneur of the year and most innovative company of the year.

Today when her daughters wake up in the morning “looking like Medusa or having a head full of dreadlocks,” they spend only five minutes in the bathroom.

We get emails all the time about making everybody’s day better, making relationships easier,” Mor says.