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Wrapped Nation


I Made Natural Hair My Business

Three women on how they turned their love for natural hair into their business

BY Joan Thatiah

Mar 08, 2021, 11:38 AM

Photo by

Wrapped Nation
The African woman is finally learning to love her kinks and volume and as the market grows and grows, three women share how they turned their love for their natural hair into businesses.

If you walked into a supermarket or a beauty shop in Nairobi or Kisumu 15 years ago, there was only one little shelf in the corner dedicated to natural hair products.

The rest of the space was taken up by chemicals, gels, and lotions manufactured to remove the kinks out of Black natural hair and to make it glossy. Now we have a whole, thriving natural hair community. The road to here was long and winding.

This growing community of naturalistas means increasing business opportunities ranging from manufacturing to retail. Three women share how they saw these gaps in the market, seized them, and turned their love for their natural hair into businesses.

Quinn Anyango

Quinn Anyango
If you meet 26-year-old Quinn Anyango on a street in Nairobi, she will command your attention. This is because she will have her natural 4C type hair combed out in a defiant afro or she will be wearing a bold head wrap.

Quinn is the owner of Wrapped Nation, a company that designs and sells head wraps.

“That’s the point of the headwrap. To turn heads,” she says.

For Quinn, her business was never one of those things she always knew she'd do, instead, she stumbled into it. All she knew five years ago was that she loved head wraps and she loved fabric but she wanted to be a journalist so she enrolled for a journalism degree at Moi University.

Owning a collection of headwraps was cheaper than going to the salon to get her hair braided every two weeks and she also loved how she looked in them so she wore one everywhere she went. Many times, women would stop her to ask where she had bought her fabric and she would give referrals to local fabric shops.

Then she graduated and got an internship with a local media house. She thought she was well on the way to her dream job until her Ghanaian friend brought her fabric from Ghana in 2018.

“It was a lot of fabric and in great prints so I chopped it up, got to sewing, and began selling head wraps.”

The idea came to her at a time when Kenyan women were beginning to grow out their natural hair and the head wrap came as a welcome accessory. Soon, she had clients calling for more head wraps, for more designs. To stay afloat, she did small jobs on the side, waitressing at one point and working product activations, and ploughed all the money back into the business. Her perseverance worked. 

She had been selling head wraps from her online shop for about half a year when Covid-19 happened. She thought she would have to close shop like so many other small businesses. But women were stuck at home, salons were closed and they were still expected to attend Zoom meetings so the headwrap became a quick solution. Her business boomed.

Now, almost three years after she first set it up, Wrapped Nation has a physical shop and she has expanded her products to include durags and bonnets which she designs. Her prices range from Ksh 700 to Ksh 1,500. She targets women aged from 24 upwards.

“At 24, someone already knows their style and can afford to buy a head wrap. She also probably is invited to events where she can wear a head-wrap,” she explains.

On a normal day at work, if she is not our sourcing for fabric, you will find Quinn either online touching base with clients or out creating content.

“I do not just sell head wraps. I also involve clients in the discussion on hair care and styling. I am also constantly doing videos on the different headwrap methods. You can’t tell how a headwrap looks until you see it on someone’s head.”

How she sees is, you should not throw a good idea out the window just because there is another business doing the same thing. From her experience, if you do it better, if you offer an additional service other than just the sale, there will be room for your business. 

The other thing she has learned about Kenyan women and their shopping habits in the time she has been running a business is that if someone they look up to tells them about something, they will buy it.

“Influencer marketing works on the Kenyan woman, if a person of influence especially online buys a wrap, I am sure that there will be orders coming my way,” she says.

She is happy that Kenyan women and a few men are finally embracing headwear. About one in every 40 of her clients is a man. Most of her business is online. She meets and interacts with clients here and has her delivery team get the orders to them. So far, so good.

In the future, she intends to set up a bigger space where clients can shop, watch tutorials, have their makeup done, and maybe even take photographs.

Michelle Anyango

Michelle Anyango
Other than the lack of information, the challenge rocking your natural hair a decade and a half ago presented was how little information there was out there on how to take care of natural Black hair. Women desperate for information and to connect with other women also growing their natural hair began getting together to form communities on social media where they could share tips and tricks.

Michelle Anyango, who is in her late twenties, began the process of loving her natural hair six years ago. It had grown thin and limp from years of heat straightening and she was looking for a fresh start. With no information on where to source products, this turned out to be harder than she thought so she set up Nywele Chronicles, her YouTube channel, to help herself and others like her.
 “I also wanted to talk about the other things that no one was talking about. Like how to talk to your boss who thinks that natural hair is not presentable,” she says. 

Now, she is a full-time YouTuber earning a living from her videos on the site and various endorsements from companies selling natural hair products.

She’s one of the few Nairobians who can say that they are living their dreams, you know, doing something that they are passionate about for a living. While at it, she has picked up quite a bit on natural hair.

“It’s not just the Afro, there are a million things that you can do with your natural hair. I wear a different style every week because I can,” she says.

 For her, taking care of her natural hair is a way of life. When asked about the infamous natural hair wash day, she agrees that it is not something that you can do in an hour.

Shee Kibugi

Shee Kibugi
Those who grew up in the 80s and 90s will tell you about how they spent weekends getting hair chemically straightened often by their mothers and sisters at home and often with painful results. Those who grew up in the village will tell you about the dreaded hot comb that was used to straighten hair.

The truth is that our society had decided a long time ago that natural hair not only looks shabby but that in its natural state, it looks dirty. Myths have been peddled to support this like the one where it is said that Jamaican Musician Bob Marley had 19 types of lice in his dreadlocks when he died.
Shee Kibugi also started out desiring straightened hair. Then she learned how to do flat twists and she began embracing her natural hair texture. She began doing flat twists on herself and then on her friends. At the time, she was a twenty-year-old economics and psychology student at the University of Nairobi.

“When I started, it was just something to do on the side for extra cash. I didn’t look at hair as something I could make a business out of,” she says.

By the time she graduated though, she was in love with hair and there was a growing natural hair community. Instead of going on the job hunt like her peers, she instead went about setting up a salon. 

Other than finances that are the worry of any small business owner, Shee worried that as she learned the new trade, her degree would go to waste. The opposite turned out to be true. Even as she taught herself natural hair styling, her economics background helped her with the business side of things.

Five years later she owns Kinky Curls Salon, a thriving natural hair salon based in Nairobi and is recognized as an award-winning natural hairstylist with two awards from The Afro Hair Awards – one for Natural Hair Stylist of the Year and Bridal Hairstylist of the Year.
“At my salon, we style natural hair without using any heat or chemicals. Natural hair isn’t unmanageable as people want to believe. If you take care of it, it falls in line.” 

Looking at the bigger picture, one can say that concerning her hair, the African woman has arrived. She has accepted that her hair, in its natural state, is beautiful even without comparing it with any other type of hair.