Hailing all the way from Durban, meet Nonzuzo Mkhwanazi, the brains behind Afrilove Creations – a black-woman owned hair product range. She talks to us about her hair journey and daily labour of putting the brand together.
Please tell us about your hair journey – when did you decide to return to natural hair and why?
In 2012, I went through a phase in my life that caused me to question a lot of my habits. One of those habits was relaxing my hair. When I thought about the real reason why I thought I needed a relaxer, I wasn’t too pleased with the response. I realised that I had no idea what my natural hair was like – all I knew was the relaxer. So, I made a conscious decision to build a relationship with my natural hair. I had no idea where to start (YouTube became my friend), but I knew that I wanted the relaxer to be a preference and not have it be all I know. I couldn’t honestly say I preferred my hair relaxed when I had not ever had it any other way. I big chopped in October 2012 after transitioning for only 4 months (I was not quite blessed with patience, lol!) I have not looked back ever since and I have made a vow to myself to never use harsh chemicals to straighten my hair ever again.
What lessons have you learnt during this time?
Returning to my natural hair has had a great impact in my life in general. Choosing to be mindful of what I put on my hair has also created a general personal awareness of the things I put in my body, on my skin, the things I say and think too. In terms of my hair, I have learnt to embrace my own hair, my own curl pattern and my own thickness. When we return to natural hair, we tend to chase the curl pattern of others, which I think defeats the whole purpose of choosing to fall in love with your own hair. I truly began to fall in love with my hair when I allowed it to simply be.
You’ve created Afrilove Creations. How did this come about?
I smile when I think about AfriLove Creations… The concept was planted in my heart about a year and a half ago. I was just so tired of being a product junkie. Besides the product junkie tendencies, I was tired of using ingredients on my hair that had the potential of causing harm to my scalp or general health at a later stage. I became drawn to nature and the amazing healing properties it has. I stopped chasing “popping curls” and rather focused on healthy hair. After much research, I started whipping my own butters, mixing own oil and herbal misting sprays for both my hair and skin. My family and friends wanted some. Clearly I brought something to the table that the world needed and that journey gave birth to AfriLove Creations.
What have been some of the challenges of starting something new while having a 9-5 job?
Time management has definitely been the most challenging, but I believe that if the universe has chosen you to carry out a certain task then all the tools you require will be given to you along the way. I leave work, come home and work again. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do”!
What is the next step for you? What is your future plan regarding Afrilove?
My focus right now is nurturing AfriLove – I want to invest more time and effort into it with the hopes of it one day becoming my “work” (9–5). I am really passionate about it – it embodies everything I believe in when it comes to self-love. We have just wrapped up our Buttermix, Hair Oil and Misting Spray collection available in Tea Tree and Lemon as well as Tea Tree and Peppermint. The responses have been all positive! I was hoping it would be successful, but I did not expect the ranges to be so well received in such a short amount of time. Next step is the labelling and branding. Pop up stalls, health events and more products are definitely on the way. I keep saying this; we are more than just hair products – we’re shifting black beauty paradigms, one natural ingredient at a time!