Published on Sunday June 16th, 2019 by Afrocks
Afrocks Afro Business Interview – Aasiyah, Founder of The Renatural: “Versatility, ease and protection are the main reasons why black women wear wigs today”
You may have noticed how black entrepreneurs – more specifically black women – recently started to take centre stage in the afro hair industry (finally). Today we speak with Aasiyah Abdulsalam, founder of The Renatural, a platform that promises to disrupt and fix the wig industry with better, safer and healthier products. By a black woman for black women.
Hi Aasiyah, could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hi, my name is Aasiyah, I recently launched a brand called The Renatural, offering never before seen products for the wig industry. I also previously founded a conscious clothing line called AleroJasmine
Cool! To get to know you a bit more, here’s how we love to do it: could you share 3 striking events that helped you be where you are today?
Notably my uncle and best friend both dying unexpectedly when I was a child – heart attack, leukaemia respectively -. I’ve always been hyper aware of how fragile life is and that has built an inherent motivation to do and go for the things I want to have, achieve and experience in my life.
The second event was my first major move as a child – from diverse inner-city North London to a very homogenous rural Ireland. It was such a different environment! My experiences taught me how to be self-reliant emotionally and very empathetic. Communication and empathy are still seen as soft skills but they’re definitely some of the most important skills I have today.
The last one is when I started my first brand AleroJasmine, rather serendipitously, while in university. I was selling random pieces I made on depop and then the brand grew. I had really high highs and frustrating lows but overall it was the best experience I could have had for my career going forward. The transferable skills I learnt by trial and error are endless and you really learn how to lead and turn any problem to a positive.
“There’s so much creativity and re-learning to be done with natural hair and I’m glad that there are more and more safe spaces for this. However, it’s hard to ignore the sentiments about the types of hair textures being promoted with the movement and the stigma black women face of not wearing natural hair.”
Tell us a bit more about The Renatural? What problem are you solving?
Of course! The Renatural is introducing innovative products focusing on functionality, design and the customer experience for the wig and weave industry. We aspire to be a digitally native brand that is completely reinventing product offerings and how consumers use them.
Our first product is deeply inspired by this line of thought: We are creating, bonding and attaching our wigs in similar ways the Ancient Egyptians did 3000 years ago. Current methods of attachment are harmful – causing issues such as skin infections, tension headaches and traction alopecia etc. – time-consuming, unrealistic, confusing and expensive. The industry is overdue for structural change and The Renatural is here to lead it.
The Wig Fix™ is the first product available on The Renatural website. Can you tell us about it specifically?
The Wig Fix is a specially engineered, patent pending, silicone gripper that makes wearing a wig more secure, easier, safer and comfortable. People were really surprised about the new product offering, definitely more excited but understandably, there was some scepticism as there is nothing on the market like it right now.
According to your own experience, what are the main reason for women to wear wigs
Versatility, ease and protection are the main reasons, I feel.
What are your thoughts on the natural hair movement in the UK?
I think it’s incredible how penetrative the movement has become; a whole generation of girls are going to be raised differently and that brings me such joy. There’s so much creativity and re-learning to be done with natural hair and I’m glad that there are more and more safe spaces for this. However, it’s hard to ignore the sentiments about the types of hair textures being promoted with the movement and the stigma black women face of not wearing natural hair. They are automatically branded as complying to Eurocentric standards of beauty or self-hate victims…
Regarding natural hair movement & stigma black women face of not wearing natural hair, what’s your relationship with your own natural hair? and what is the best way to make natural hair movement more inclusive?
I love my natural hair! I am super tender headed so I’m very into protective, low maintenance hairstyles.
When it comes to Natural Hair movement, maybe more emphasis on supporting someone’s choices rather than a certain look… also creating more safe spaces such meetups, events etc. for people to learn and question their hair texture without the fear of judgement and backlash would be a good start.
“The hardest part is dealing with imposter syndrome…you’re constantly selling yourself and your dream, and the fear of disappointment is real.”
We are seeing more and more black entrepreneurs getting into the afro hair market. What are your thoughts on this?
People often start businesses to scratch their own itch. So, I think this should be expected and celebrated. This market is enormous, growing fast and is considered inelastic globally, there is space for more and more businesses to claim market share and who better than black entrepreneurs that already have a unique insight?
Do you think it is more difficult for black women entrepreneur?
Statistically, it is significantly harder for black women to run, fund and invest in their businesses so unfortunately yes.
What’s the hardest part of running a business? What part do you enjoy the most?
The hardest part is dealing with imposter syndrome…you’re constantly selling yourself and your dream, and the fear of disappointment is real.
On the other hand, I love the fact that even if I had the money and liberty to do anything I wanted, I would still be running this business because I NEED to see these products in the world. It’s an exhilarating feeling to put out a new product offering in the market, that is changing the way people do seemingly habitual things.
What are your future plans for The Renatural?
To definitely scale the reach of our first product, The Wig Fix and then eventually introduce more innovative products that will make wearing wigs truly effortless.
Where to find The Renatural