Turning natural hair into a business in Nigeria
Natural hair, that is African hair kept in its original state and not altered chemically, may not be a rare sight in Nigeria’s cities. Usually associated with adolescents and children, women in Nigeria are expected to “relax,” or chemically straighten, their hair. Natural hair tends to be viewed with disdain and labelled as unkempt or unprofessional, but the tide may be turning. A growing number of women are pushing the natural movement and of them few are turning it into a business.
Black hair has always been big business, Madame C.J. Walker can testify to that. In the United States, the black hair care industry is projected to reach $761 million by 2017 and in Nigeria young women, influenced by what they see on the internet and cable TV, are driving sales of hair care products. The major focus of haircare products in Nigeria is on relaxing treatments, shampoos, and hair lotions. This means that there is room for the natural hair market, and women are snapping up that opportunity.
Natural Nigerian is a website that caters to Nigerian women who are natural. It is also more than a website, Natural Nigerian organises meet-ups where products, most of them homemade, are sold and advice on natural hair is given. The website also advocates for total wellness and a healthy living. On the Ahia (market in Igbo), Nigerians can buy chia seeds, virgin coconut oil, beeswax, deodorant stones, essential oils of varying scents, and more.
Another example of the growing natural haircare industry in Nigeria is the Tress mobile app. Developed by three software entrepreneurs from Ghana and Nigeria, the startup aims to help women find hair inspiration, quality stylists, and original products. Tress was officially launched at Social Media Week Lagos last month. Now, Nigerians can make use of the haircare app to care for their needs. On the other hand, stores such as Jumia and Sizzelle that sell a wide range of haircare products are beginning to make room for products that target the natural market, too.
Will the Nigerian natural haircare market boom? Leave a comment below or reach me on Twitter @rafeeeeta to share your opinion.