‘I’ am committed to ending all natural hair discrimination in Africa’ – Chioma Joy Ezechukwu-Alaebo
Natural hair advocate; Chioma is a 26 year old young entrepreneurand final year student of Abia State Polytechnic, studying Public Administration.Her unfortunate experience with hair relaxers and dyes launched her into advocacy. Chioma, who had spent the last three years of her life growing a healthy natural hair, is a social innovator who creates awareness on natural hair advocacy. She founded Black Hair Community and other online platforms where she has trained more than 1000 women across Africa how to grow healthy natural hair with ease. She also launched her cosmetics brand; Favent Beauty Cosmetics 2017, Because of her passion for Natural Hair Care Education, and published her first book “Healthy Hair Secrets” same year. A book that explains what every woman’s healthy hair checklist should be.
Chioma is committed to ending all forms of Natural Hair Discrimination in Africa and encouraging African women to embrace their natural hair. She is currently working on a Natural Hair Documentary in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (10) that will expose the hair discrimination against African women and their children.On the 25th of May, 2019, she hosted the first ever Natural Hair Growth Hangout in Aba, Abia State, where she had guest speakers and lots of natural hair lovers in attendance, the event went viral on Facebook and opened her up to more opportunities globally.In her words: “Our hair is more than just hair. It is our identity”.The beautiful “Naturalista” who is also happily married to her supportive husband shares her story with me in this interview.
My childhood really prepared me for what I do today. I was born into a family where mum was a petty trader and dad , a carpenter; I was faced with visiting the markets after school. Though, I had always wanted to be a lawyer, my childhood and environment rather prepared me for business and entrepreneurship. After secondary school, I couldn’t further my education immediately because of lack of funds. I was left with getting a job at Tonimas Nigeria Limited Aba to work as a factory worker. My experience in that company left a vacuum in my life that being just an employee will never fill. My stay there was one of the things that inspired me to be a business owner. Not just a business owner like a mere trader. But, to become a company owner. I stopped aspiring to be a lawyer immediately. And started dreaming to own a company of my own. The saying that our environment influences our thoughts is so true. I saw how a company is being managed , how jobs are being created, and how money is being made. As an 18 year old Igbo girl, It affected my thought pattern.
Inspiration behind your Black hair community initiative and my book Healthy hair secrets
When i was in JSS 2, I wrote one funny novel in form of a drama. I will say reading lots of books in primary school inspired the writing of the novel then. And, I have always wanted to be an author but don’t really know what to write on. I grew up knowing that the novel I wrote then was a trash compared to the books I see people publish. So, I had to let that aspiration of being an author die. Fast forward to 2017, I met a phenomenal lady by name Edirin Edewor on Facebook who advertised a free webinar to teach young people how to write a book with ease and publish it on Amazon. I had to grab the opportunity immediately. At the end of the power packed webinar, I learnt all that I need to actually become an author and I bought her book ” A-Z of E-book Publishing “. Having created a niche for myself in the Beauty Industry already, I decided to write a book that will give answers to numerous questions asked by various women concerning natural hair growth. Healthy Hair Secrets which is a hair care checklist, is a book I’m still proud I wrote. All thanks to Edirin Edewor
My journey into the Natural Hair Care Industry since 2016 to this point has been a roller coaster. Sometimes, I feel so bad and frustrated because of what I encounter daily on this journey. When i was starting, I reached out to some women who are already in the Natural Hair Care Industry to learn one thing or the other from them as a newbie. I got turned down and ignored by most of these women that I had to push myself harder learning most of the things I know today on my own. It was frustrating. It affected my self-esteem and confidence. I felt I wasn’t enough. The mental note this experience created on my mind is still fresh that I hardly go to women to seek for help or advice today. The experience made me determined and I am happy with the great reception I get daily from my customers, clients and prospective ones, I believe that the world is actually my stage. I’m just scratching the surface now. More grounds to conquer.
The hunger to solve the Natural Hair problems faced by African women, and the successful stories of African business women all over the world inspire me to never back out of this journey but stay put in working hard and smart.
Apart from being awarded the 2017 Start-up of the Year by Vision Alive Foundation after I launched my cosmetics brand- Favent Beauty Cosmetics, my greatest reward for what I do has been the recommendations and referrals I get daily from my customers and clients. They keep telling everyone about me. They keep announcing me to the world. They keep recommending me whenever someone laments about her natural hair. To many, these things may not be rewards. But to me, the recommendations and referrals are my greatest rewards for what I do.
Challenges as a Natural hair advocate
Not having a physical school here in Nigeria that offers Trichology ( the study of human scalp). Though there are online schools that offer this course, having a Nigerian physical school that teaches this will make a lot of sense. It is the foundation of every hair care business and should be offered in Nigerian schools just like every other courses. The absence of this is really affecting the natural hair care practice in Nigeria. Also, not being able to solve the problem of a client after trying out possible solutions is really challenging though I refer them to certified Trichologists. Getting natural hair women that are open to collaboration and partnership is tough. Really tough. But we will keep digging.
Media should do more
The media platforms and social media influencers in Africa are not helping in projecting the advocacy for natural hair. They will charge you to feature your works on their platforms. When you write to them to invite you to a radio show for you to educate the African women on the dangers of using unsafe hair care products like relaxers and permanent dyes or how to take care of their hair, they will ask you to pay them. When you can’t pay them, you won’t be featured and a lot souls keep living in ignorance.
My Natural hair documentary project in line with the UN SDG
I got the inspiration for this project after coming across and witnessing first hand a lot of abuses faced by myself and other African women just because of our God given natural hair. When I returned natural, I was bullied by my coursemates in school but I was able to pull through. That wasn’t the case of my younger sister who is also a victim of hair discrimination, verbal abuse and bully .The Natural Hair Documentary will tell the story of Afro hair as an African identity, the dread hair discrimination against African women and their children, the emotional, physical and verbal abuse faced by African women and their children just because of their Afro hair, the inequality eating deep into our society just because of Afro hair, and the way forward. In line with the United Nation’s SDGs (10 target 3), my team and I are working to ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard through this documentary project.
Being a Woman of Rubies
My story! Yes, my unique story is and will remain an inspiration to so many women out there. My goal is to use every possible medium or platform to solve the natural hair challenges faced by African women being my greatest weapon, and my inspiration to be a natural hair care giver and problem solver. All these attributes make me a Woman of Rubies.
Appreciation of black women “Naturalista”
We are not well appreciated at all! The verbal abuse, bullies, hair discrimination, mockery, assault, etc, it’s so alarming. Who did we offend? Why the hate? Why can’t we enjoy growing our God given natural hair ?
Advice for women who are having trouble with their r natural hair way and basic natural hair tips for beginners
Moisture is the Key! And to keep your hair moisturised, it is imperative to know the porosity level of your hair. Hair Porosity which simply means the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture, is what actually determines the products your hair needs and what your hair care regimen should be. Growing a healthy natural hair will become easy for you when you learn to treat your hair rightly. Stop using hair products because every other person is using it. Find out what actually works or can work for you. First step is carrying out a porosity test on your natural hair.
How To Test Your Hair Porosity Level:
• Wash your hair thoroughly to get rid of any product buildups and air dry.
• Cut out a strand of your clean hair.
• Drop the hair strand in a glass of water.
• Pay attention to see if it sinks or floats.
• If it floats, it is low porosity hair.
•If it sinks, it is high porosity hair.
•And if stays at the middle of the water, it is normal or medium porosity hair.
Congratulations, now you know the porosity level of your hair.
This will help you know the products and hair care regimen your hair needs.
Advice for young women who want to go into my line of work
Hey Queens! My advice for you is a simple one. Do not stop learning. Be knowledgeable. Be your greatest cheerleader. Equip your brain. Remain focused. Volunteer and intern when you see an opportunity to do that. Attend events and network with like minds. Read books. Finally, invest in your personal development in any way that you can because personal brand sells faster.
The world is your stage. See you at the top.
You can join my Facebook group (BLACK HAIR COMMUNITY) or follow my personal blog instagram page (@naturalhairadvocate) and my business page (@faventbeautyorganics) to learn natural hair tips that are result oriented and works.
Growing your natural hair can be very easy when done the right way.