perfected for natural haired women on the go🍃
by Lerato Mashile
Described as an ambitious perfectionist, Nandipa Nkosi is a 26 year old Mpumalanga native who turned her passion into a business by launching Naniwe Essentials which is a hair care brand for simple, easy hair care routines. While entrepreneurship has always been a passion of hers, she states that she wasn’t exactly sure which industry she wanted to fully immerse herself into.
She further elaborates that “’I enjoy doing and taking care of hair and the maintenance of hair always came naturally to me, and after stifling with dandruff on my natural hair that is when I started a whole lot of DIY projects on my hair, I started out making shampoo and gave it to friends, the feedback was great and that’s when I decided that I wanted to commercialize this hobby of mine and make it something meaningful”.
Maintaining natural hair comes with a lot trial and error as she explains that some of the mistakes we make include not knowing our hair type resulting in buying the wrong products and not having a routine we are consistent with and then thinking that natural hair is too frustrating. With the intention to create simple easy hair care routines that don’t break the bank, Naniwe Essentials is aimed at catering for different hair types which is why Nandipa saw it fit to source out her products with a cosmetic manufacturer in order to bulk produce the products. Her involvement in the company is meticulous as not only did she have samples for her product line, she handpicked the ingredients as she wanted the ingredients to be as natural as possible. She states that “Each product should be safe to use on your hair with nourishing effects.”
When asked who was her first point of reference when it came to women embracing their natural hair, she was boldly makes mention of Akhona ‘Acalaca’ Lali (@honouryourcrown) who is not only a natural hair influencer but a certified vegan nutrition health coach and entrepreneur.
This comes as no surprise as more and more women are beginning to celebrate their natural curls from media personalities like Pearl Thusi, Nandi Madida all the way to award winning actress comedian, Tiffany Haddish who recently went on InstaLive and shaved off all her hair. With the world finally catching up to this sense of pride, representation is fast becoming equally as important as Nandipa says “I think that as young black woman it’s time for us to take a stand, rise up and be recognized with our hair. It’s important for us to realize that we don’t have to conform to society with the norm of having “sleek, straight hair”. It’s up to us to say that this is how we are born and we are going to embrace it. After all having natural hair is not a statement, it’s the closest thing we get to being ourselves.”
While some may have shied away from beginning their businesses in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nandipa decided to capitalise on this by launching her online store which bridged the gap on accessibility and convenience. Despite this, one cannot deny the challenges that come as she states that her biggest challenges came before the launch as most of the decisions needed to be made electronically given the restriction on movement.
Capital was also a challenge as the business is self-funded which meant her having to spend her own money. This gave way to her precision in ordering products given that every cent counts. Despite these challenges, she states that entrepreneurship can bring change to our economy and help fight against unemployment. While not everyone can be an entrepreneur, it’s important for those who have chosen this path to create sustainable businesses that can in return help minimize unemployment by creating long term job opportunities.
With a vision to cater for all hair types, Nandipa remains inspired by the likes of Portia M, Vuyi from Corium and a whole lot more black female owned brands. She hopes that young girls everywhere remember that “’they are beautiful just the way they are. It is up to us to change the narrative around natural hair. That we hope to make their journey easy and manageable.”