Natural Hair Co team captain Nyaki Tshabangu and communications captain Lindiwe van Staden are in the business of normalising natural hair. The duo tells us more about their breakthrough brand.
What inspired your business idea?
The idea behind Natural Hair Co stems from a desire to create a central access point for natural hair in South Africa. We started hosting live events and creating content on our website that gave entrepreneurs access to a market of women and men who want to learn about their natural hair and buy products – which, back in 2016, weren’t available at traditional retailers.
How do you choose brands to showcase on your platform?
Our company has always been driven to empower local South African brands and create an ecosystem that includes product manufacturers, service providers and content creators. We work with brands that offer quality services and products and prioritise those that put education and inclusion first. Each month, we feature and collaborate with a brand, giving them exposure to our community through our Wash Day boxes – affordable box sets of products from brands that, we feel, our audience may want to try themselves.
Were there challenges?
Natural hair is still considered an unnatural choice, for many women (and men), because the general media has, for a long time, suggested that for hair to be considered beautiful, it must be long and fall straight down, as opposed to being kinky, coily, curly or growing upwards. The biggest challenge with this is portraying our hair in a way that people can accept and see the beauty in it. We’ve had to be conscious and strategic with the images and words we use to convey positive messaging that introduces and re-enforces the beauty of hair, as it grows out of your scalp.
What’s the most rewarding part of running your business?
The personal stories that people have shared with us about the impact of the social reinforcement and community we’ve created. We’ve loved the gratification of knowing that what we do – the events, product sales and content we create – is making a difference to the way women see and feel about themselves.
What are your customers’ most pressing needs?
Everyone’s hair is different, and your hair-care routine should be an individual choice. Finding the right products to suit your hair’s texture takes time, but all that trial and error can be costly. We offer affordable Wash Day boxes, which allow our customers to try a different brand of products each month. Each box contains an easy-to-follow routine.
What goals have you set for your business?
To launch a natural-hair event called Grown Fest in 2020. Centring around identity and stories, it will allow men and women to experience true African beauty and esteem. Our vision is to become the largest marketplace and most informative hub in Africa to shine a light on natural hair.
What inspires your success?
We’ve created an entirely new hair- and-beauty market. Three years ago, there were virtually no products specifically for the largest target market in Africa: black women. We’ve not only created a seat at the table, but we’ve created an entirely new table.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female success?
That we aren’t allowed to fail. There’s so much riding on women’s attempts at just about everything: social expectations, financial limitations and our feelings of inadequacy. Our pursuit of success requires sheer dedication and a hundred times more work than a man would have to do.
What motivates you?
We’ve always been driven people who look at developing and empowering our community. The reason we keep pushing to fulfil this dream is that we can see how the natural-hair community can employ women through entrepreneurship. We know that when we succeed, others do too.
Your favourite beauty moment?
Lindiwe: I have two. The first moment is after a trim, and the second one is when I undo my twist and my Afro looks bomb! ?
Nyaki: Freshly washed hair.
For more information, visit naturalhair.co.za