Hello! I'm Ekwy Chukwuji-Nnene and I am obsessed with how to make all hair types thrive and shine and grow.
THE HAIR ACCIDENT
The day I held a clump of my fallen hair in disbelief, following a weave-on extension, I was devastated and knew I needed to find out how to look after my own hair. My hair had left my roots and clung onto the weave! Even if I wore extensions again (although I wasn’t planning to!) I would learn how to have healthy thriving hair. I had long given up on relaxers as my hair browned, thinned and broke. Once, I was sporting gorgeous braids on the Victoria line in London when one of them fell onto the carriage floor, causing a lady passenger to laugh out loud.
And then, seven years ago, I had my second daughter, Dilichi, who, same as my first, was born with a full head of hair. My first daughter, Danielle, had suffered from very incompetent hair stylists, including me!
When Dilichi arrived, I wondered if I could really learn to do it right this time. So in 2010, I took off the braids and I cut my hair short - it was a good look. This was it! Surprisingly, my family and friends embraced it. I had this idea that I was going to figure out this hair thing. At work, I didn’t feel persecuted coming to work with short curly afro hair. It was seen as cool, actually. But I wasn’t sure what I was doing - products were still not great and my scalp was itching a lot! I was learning about my haircare techniques - using combs the wrong way and causing more breakage. I kept at it, though.
At first, I was only concerned with growing and retaining the three heads of hair in my house - I read and downloaded books, chemistry journals and ingredients lists and started by mixing various ‘natural’ hair products, using my hair as a guinea pig :-) Sometimes, my hair still broke, was brittle and so dry, and at other times, the results of my culformers were spectacular. I learned consistency and began to be more disciplined. And finally I learned the most important lesson of all - it doesn’t matter how great a product is, it is our technique and consistency that matters the most. The secret ingredient is loving what you have and being patient with it.
Soon, my husband started using our hair stuff for his beard. Friends, family and strangers commented on our hair growth and asked for my products. I always obliged sending email lists of what I used, where I bought and how I mixed it. Most people didn’t want that though. They wanted me to mix and sell to them! Hahahaha! Here's some feedback from friends -
'At first, I was only concerned with growing and retaining the three heads of hair in my house - I read and downloaded books, chemistry journals and ingredients lists and started by mixing various ‘natural’ hair.at first, I was only concerned with growing and retaining the three heads of hair in my house - I read and downloaded books, chemistry journals and ingredients lists and started by mixing various ‘natural’ hair.' - Shane Watson
In December 2015, at Enugu airport in Nigeria, from behind me, a stranger reached out and touched my bantu knot-outs, asking if it was my hair. Apart from being shocked and taken aback, it dawned on me that there is still some disbelief that curly afro hair could thrive, if we look after it. I decided to share what I knew worked for me and my daughters.
I spent 2016 looking for business partners to help me make my dream come true. During an initial call, a prominent male chemist once told me that there was nothing that could solve the problem of women and their hair. I said I was trying to solve the problem of bad hair care. He said others had come to him to invent new products and they never worked. I told him I wasn’t surprised, after all, he couldn’t test them on his own hair and he could never really grasp this so-called ‘problem’. I didn’t work with him.
Instead, I carried on investing in knowledge. Not long after, I found and started working closely with understanding creative chemists who were genuinely interested in helping me and wanting to understand afro hair needs. We started testing, reformulating, retesting and reformulating so much so that one day, one of the chemists said she hadn't seen this kind of interest in formulation before. Most manufacturers outsource and white label. I told her I would be using these products all my life so they had to be great. Today, she loves the formulations we have created so much.
I gained a lot of experience to create a range that met our standards and could cater to all kinds of hair - my older daughter has what is known as 4c afro hair and when she uses our deep conditioner, it melts her knots, so I knew I was onto something. It made our hair bonding sessions so much more fun, easy and now both daughters look forward to it. Sometimes there is a mock fight about whose turn it is to go first. Whenever I finish a style for any one of them, the first thing they say is, ‘Mummy, thank you so much,' and I get a big hug.It makes me feel very fulfilled.