Who are you to the world?
I am a locs wearing naturalista who has had more big chops than I have fingers on one hand. I am also mother to a 12 year old girl who has a massive Afro! I am in love with Afro hair and African print fabrics and I love being creative with colours, textures and shapes. I am also passionate about kids and youth and if I had my way I would mentor every child until they believe in themselves and reach for the highest goals.
Why did you decide to open a natural hair salon in Namibia?
The primary motivation was knowing that I will not find a single hairdresser in Windhoek who knows how to treat natural hair, and who will not want to take a blow dryer on high heat and a small-toothed comb to my daughter’s very tight curls. When we moved here we both experienced very dry hair and the hairdressers we went to either refused to deal with her hair or used heat to within an inch of the life of her hair. I have also come to terms with the fact that I am a snob! I expect high standards from service providers and want to go to a beautiful salon to have my hair done. I don’t like mouldy, stained towels on my shoulders; I don’t want a stylist with a loud voice bad-mouthing somebody else to their colleague, or chewing and popping gum in my ear. I certainly never want to hear the question “Why don’t you relax them?” ever again!! So I put my savings and my talent to creating an environment that is classy and upmarket; where our expertise is in every type of Afro you can throw our way. I want our clients to come in and feel special and be treated with respect and the full attention they deserve for the amount of money they are paying.
It is a common misconception in Africa that good hair is not natural hair, and we have heard how women will now leave their ATM cards as surety for weaves they cannot afford at salons, what is your take on this?
I have come to realise that there are two distinct reasons for this misconception for those who believe it: (1) The first is historical and we find this among dark-skinned Asian communities too, where the lighter your skin and the straighter your hair, the more acceptable you are, ergo, better opportunities and a higher chance of survival. To some extent, mass media perpetuates these ideas and sets up role models for our youth inspiring them to appreciate the long, straight flowing hair more than the big Afro.
(2) Over time we have become so misinformed about hair care for natural hair that many of us have the opinion that natural hair is not only unmanageable, but it is untidy and not presentable. Somewhere along the way we lost our creativity when it comes to dressing and styling our natural hair.
In answer to your question, my take on this situation where people are stretching themselves financially to achieve a certain look with extensions is that it is a shame. I recognise that we will all set aside money to invest in our appearance and it is important that we care how we look, but going to the extent of giving up all your cash to achieve a look is sad. There are other areas of our lives that we need to put cash aside for while we are young and have earning power. You can achieve a sophisticated, stylish look with your own hair that will not strangle you financially.
We hear numerous stories of how salons in the country consistently complain about and attempt to force natural haired women to relax their hair. What do you feel is the underlying issue under all this?
I think the underlying issue is ignorance. I don’t use ignorance in a derogatory way here, I simply mean that stylists just don’t know what to do with curls. They have focused all their training and knowledge acquisition on straight hair and the associated products. So if a client comes in with their Afro, rather than lose the sale, the salons will steer the clients towards what they know how to do. They have neither the tools nor the expertise to manage natural hair and in a large number of cases, the stylists also see natural hair as unattractive; and they’re not too shy to tell you it looks ugly either!
What is the most common complaint you have heard about women sporting natural hair, and how does your salon aim to change this?
When I think about the opinions people have of naturalistas, I can think of a number of words that come out repeatedly: Untidy, poor, radical, political activist, feminist (with negative connotations), and ugly. In my salon I have met some of the most inspiring, self-assured women than I have ever met anywhere else. Some of the intellectual debates that go on get you thinking so differently and open up your mind to other view points. I want to encourage more of this type of discussion which ultimately inspires us to make the world a better place for our children.
The men and women who come to my salon see the beauty in natural hair and have taught my stylists a thing or two about being creative with styles. I have invested a lot into ensuring that my stylists love and appreciate their own hair; they are not daunted by any curl types in any way; in fact their attitude is bring it on!’. We certainly want to debunk the myth that natural hair cannot look beautiful. The truth is natural hair is beautiful. Full stop!
Finally, where are you located and what awesome experience can we look forward to when we come over?
Lately I have been placing bets with people who are convinced that their hair is so hard and dry that the only hope is to hide it under a weave. I have won ALL the bets; they have all walked out with soft hair after the very first session of the Simana Afrotherapy. I also placed a bet with my niece and two other clients that their small Afros would grow and the growth would show immediately. The bet with my niece was for N$1,000. I have already started winning that bet and can assure the recipient of my winnings – Physically Active Youth in Katutura – that they will receive the full sum very shortly.
Each and every client that walks into Simana Naturals Emporium gets a personalised service and a hair care regime that is tailored to the client’s needs. Our strength and expertise is in natural hair care and protective styling where hair has become damaged. We offer effective treatments for clients transitioning from relaxed to natural hair. We love kids and guarantee not to traumatise them with blow dryers and small-toothed combs. I encourage everyone reading this article to pay us a visit. We are located at Unit 4 Central Park, General Murtala Muhammad Street, Eros. Your landmarks are the Repulikein and Trustco Bank. We are in the courtyard behind Trustco Bank. Alternatively give us a call on 081 561 5109 to speak to one of our stylists. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see pictures of the beautiful styles we have created and read reviews from all of our customers. We look forward to meeting you all!