After being unable to find a local salon that could take care of her hair, Adanna Amechi decided to take matters into her own hands.
After three salons told her they couldn’t provide the style she was looking for – and with no success finding others online – Amechi was inspired to launch The President Braids to improve care options. hair care for people of color in Ontario who may have curly or frizzy hair. hair, also called type 3 or type 4 hair.
“Back home, we have barbershops everywhere, so we never really had to worry about that too much,” Amechi, who studies chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo, told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo.
So she went through video tutorials and contacted her friends and family in Nigeria to learn how to braid and take care of her hair. She spent weeks training on herself, and it wasn’t long before she started helping her friends.
“I realized it wasn’t just a problem of me,” she said. “The next thing I knew was friends of friends and friends of other friends and it became a word of mouth thing.”
“We decided to be the people we couldn’t see”
The President Braids is a virtual training space to teach people different techniques and styles for curly or frizzy hair. He hopes to train enough stylists to fill a service gap in Ontario cities.
“I did a little research and found that only 1% of hair salons in the province of Ontario accommodate hair types 3 or 4, which is alarming considering that people with type 3 or 4 make up 23% of the population,” she says.
“We’re trying to make a difference in that. We’re trying to get people to understand the importance of being able to take care of everyone’s hair.”
Pamela Onyemenam, a student at Carleton University in Ottawa, partnered with Amechi to launch the company.
It’s not uncommon for people to travel from the area to the Greater Toronto Area to get their hair done, Amechi said. Onyemenam adds that finding an affordable salon can also be a challenge for many people.
“We try to keep it affordable so other black women with our hair type can have the opportunity to braid their hair,” Onyemenam said. “There aren’t many people who can braid our type of hair and we decided to be the people we couldn’t see.”
The founders of Fabbulists also note the lack of services and say they are doing what they can to fill a gap in the region and beyond. Their platform acts as a marketplace that matches stylists with people looking for hair or makeup.
“We serve a market that has overlooked people,” said Manny Ojigbo, who founded Fabbulists with his wife Elizabeth Azuya in 2019.
“We want to be able to help stylists get the exposure they deserve and we want to be able to show that it’s okay to have a different kind of look. This type of hair is good hair too. because there is always this stigma.” he said.
With nearly 300 people who have sought services this year, Amechi and Onyemenamand say they want to focus on recruiting more people who want to learn these techniques.
“We’re open to anyone who wants to learn, even beginners,” Amechi said.
“We are really trying to expand as much as possible because now we know there are so many people we might be able to help.”