They say that a woman who cuts her hair is a woman that's ready to change her life, which is exactly how Pretoria-born Gontse Kgokolo felt when she chopped all her hair off after falling pregnant with her first child.
Little did she know that this change would eventually lead her to starting a natural hair tools and products business called Kwanele SA.
The 32-year-old takes us about through her entrepreneurship journey and building her Kwanele SA business.
Turning her hair struggles into a business
After chopping off all her relaxed hair, Gontse decided that she was done using relaxers and blow dryers on her thick and course hair. She went on a self discovery journey and settled on the idea of growing her hair naturally. This was much to her disappointment when she learnt how much more difficult the maintenance of natural hair was.
“Upon seeking for something new in my life, I also resigned from my job," she says.
"I was now jobless and growing my natural hair. I did not realise that having a natural afro was so much work - washing, detangling, combing and brushing was a nightmare. My hair is very thick and coarse and I could not find products that kept it moisturised, and I did not want to go back to burning my scalp with relaxers and blow dryers."
That’s when she went on the hunt for products that would be perfect for her hair.
“I took my retirement package and went around looking for samples of brushes and what might work for African hair," she tells us.
"I bought over 100 brushes to check samples and make comparisons. I found a manufactured hat combined with the use of a hairdryer and a brush in one. It was not damaging to the hair; it was gentle and suitable for African hair. I was joined by Tebogo Ramurundu in 2016 when she embarked on her natural hair journey and we have been working as business partners since."
That’s how Kwanele SA was born.
A gamechanger in the hair industry
Although Kwanele SA offers products that are strictly for natural hair, Gontse says that their business model is built on reducing the pain that comes with taking care of natural hair.
“Kwanele SA specialises in natural hair products that are not popular in the market. Many people are making moisturisers, hair food or advising on products that are easily accessible. We focus on hair growth, strengthening hair, and easing the pain women go through when having to wash or style their hair. The battle of straightening hair without burning it or relaxing it is a real one which is why we created our very own brush,” she says.
“Our products are suitable for almost all African hair texture," she says.
"They do not damage hair or cause harm to the scalp. Our best-selling product is our Wide Comb Afro Hair Straightening Brush which reduces the amount of time women spend on their beauty routine. These days women are focusing more on their careers, families and need to spend as little time in front of the mirror as possible. I wanted something fast, non-damaging and affordable."
All about the brush
“This type of product is new in the market and not many people know about the benefits of using the Wide Comb Afro Hair Straightening Brush. It is an Afro Hair Electric Ceramic Straightening brush that gives afro hair the right stretch with no damage. It is designed to be painless and has minimal breakage when being used, which makes it suitable for both kids and adults,” Gontse explains.
She adds that a wide comb brush has a lot of benefits for coily hair. These benefits include: easier styling of hair, minimising breakage, detangling and less pain.
1. Growing natural doesn't have to be hard or frustrating or any of those things. To help grow beautiful hair that is not damaged; limit heat styling, use healthy fats instead of hair growth supplements. Hot water can cause dryness, rinse hair with cool water to help close up the cuticle and strengthen hair follicles before styling.
2. Moistening your hair regularly keeps it from being damaged. Dry hair is the cause of most hair problems, like hair loss, dandruff, and painful scalp. Find ways to keep moisture in your hair which include oils, conditioners, and good practices. Coconut oil and Castor oil can be great for locking in moisture for some people, but not everyone.
3. Protective hairstyles that do not damage your growing made are a must. Protective styles make sure your hair isn’t easily damaged, they lock in moisture, help hair to grow faster, and are easier to wrap in hats, scarves, or a wig on a day you wish to switch up your look.
4. Using organic or homemade products is unlikely to harm your hair. Popular ingredients that can be found in your cupboard include coconut oil, jojoba oil, raw shea butter, aloe vera gel, and raw egg (yes egg) just to name a few. Speak to your grandma or aunty, you never know, there might already be a recipe in the family.
5. In the evening, use a silk or satin cap, bonnet, scarf, and pillow to protect your hair and maintain the natural oils.