The Woman Behind The Brand feature is back This feature is all about celebrating women entrepreneurs that are making a mark in the South African hair care and beauty industry. Today I feature Fiona of Nana Afua Shea Butter.
Origins & current location?
I am from Zimbabwe. I have been living in SA for 13 years now.
What are you currently up to?
My profession is in property development where I am involved with leasing shops off-plan to prospective tenants looking for space in shopping centres. This is what I have been doing for the past 8 years. This has really taught me to be a people’s person!
Why did you decide to go natural? Briefly take us through your natural hair journey.
I have been natural for all my life, except for a brief period in my life when I was 11. I begged my mother to take me along with her to the hair salon because I wanted my hair relaxed. So I got my hair relaxed and I was over the moon! A few weeks later when I needed a “retouch”, she wouldn’t give me the money. So I put my hair in twists and re-entered my natural hair journey.
What is your hair care regimen?
Every 2 weeks I wash my hair with black African soap solution which I source from Ghana. I seldom add anything to it as it already contains shea butter. My final rinse is an apple cider and water mix; and using a shea butter & coconut mix, I coat my hair strands in this. A few times a week I massage my scalp with a DIY mix of jojoba oil, mixed with essential oils such as lavender, cedarwood and thyme (all known to stimulate the scalp for hair growth).
What hairstyle(s) do you like to rock?
In summer, I love to rock my own hair but because the length isn’t so easy for me to play around with, I add in bits and pieces of afro hair extensions. Whichever way I pin it, that’s the look I rock! I’m also a fan of crotchet braids.
Tell us briefly about the story behind the Nana Afua Shea Butter hair care brand. What inspired the idea and where did it all start?
My husband is from Ghana, so on my first visit there in December 2013 I went to the market to explore all these skin products people rave about. I purchased some shea butter and African black soap, came back with them to SA and never really used them. In May 2014, I developed skin reactions on my face and feet, to the point I couldn’t wear most shoes. My husband suggested I wash with the black soap and moisturise with the shea butter as he grew up using these products and knew their healing properties. Let’s just say that was my healing miracle! My husband encouraged us to begin researching shea butter and its other uses and we realised it’s popular for hair use. So we decided to start importing our own shea butter from Ghana for resale.
Do you have another 9-5 job besides Nana Afua Shea Butter? Do you have a family? How do you manage to juggle everything and still keep the balance?
Yes I have a demanding 9-5 job. I mostly dedicate weekends to strategising with my husband on marketing ideas, etc. He runs the business 95% of the time as he is self-employed, which is a great help!
Are there any other projects you are currently working on?
We are currently branching out into supplying the natural hair care market in Zimbabwe, so we are doing some research on potential stockists etc. We are also passionate about leading a lifestyle coupled with treating ailments using natural products, instead of pharmaceutical products. This is something in our horizon and to-do list!
What tips/advice can you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
Having a 9-5 job that is demanding can sap the life out of you, especially if you are running a business on the side. So it’s very important to have a product or service that is of interest to you, and gives you that drive, as well as that excitement to do it.
If that fire doesn’t exist inside you for the business, then there is nothing left to motivate you to persevere in your business when time is little, finances are low and opportunities are scarce.
If you could advice your 20 year old self about ‘life’ what would you say to her?
I would tell her to enjoy the good things of life, and also invest and save. I would also encourage her to be secure and confident in herself, as she discovers herself.
Where can the FroChic readers get a hold of the Nana Afua Shea Butter hair care products?