When it comes to representations of ‘gorgeous’ hair in the media, the kinky, curly locks that characterise Afro-Caribbean hair are rarely featured. Crown Me Natural UK is a social enterprise out to challenge this perception, encouraging people to put down the straighteners, forgo the relaxers and embrace their beautifully natural curls.
Setting up the enterprise
Based in Leeds, Crown Me Natural UK’s founders Angeline Smith and Melinna Martinez have created a range of home-made products designed specifically for Afro-Caribbean textured hair. The company’s goal is to educate people about how to care for their hair in its natural state, something which Angeline and Melinna strongly believe in.
Angeline explained she didn’t have a clue what was available for her hair growing up.
“I relaxed my hair whilst in college because I didn’t know any other options. It got to the point where my hair was dull and terrible. I knew the heat and relaxer was just killing it. So I had to do my research as I didn’t know how I was going to go back to natural. Then I met Melina and the company exploded from there.”
“For me, it’s about more than just hair, it’s about loving yourself and accepting yourself for who you are. After doing the journey to natural hair myself, I became more observant of people and their hair. I realised that many people don’t know what to do with their hair. It’s amazing to watch people grow and develop as an individual.”
Spreading the message
At one of Crown Me Natural UK’s meet and greets, it seems that the company’s ethos that natural hair is something to be cherished and celebrated is spreading. “I came here to learn more about embracing my natural hair”, said customer Andrea Alexander.
“I’ve been natural for about six to eight years, and it has its ups and downs. It’s more like trial and error, using different products to try and get my hair to the state that it should be. Since joining Crown Me Natural UK, I’ve had access to different products for me to try out. It’s nice to meet other women with natural state hair, and talk about it. On our WhatsApp group, members are quite keen to say “use this”, “do that” or “go and buy some coconut oil”. I don’t think I will ever go back to perming my hair”.
Salons, take note
It’s not just members of the public that can struggle with Afro Caribbean hair au naturale. Angeline believes that more hairdressers need to learn how to treat Afro Caribbean hair.
“Last time I went to the salon, even though the staff said they could do it, I had two people in my hair, who had no idea what they were doing. It got to the point where I ended up doing my own hair.”
So I want to go natural…
When asked about advice for anyone making the transition to natural hair, both Angeline and Melina reinforce that it is important for people to understand what they’ll be dealing with.
“Clients really have to take steps to determine the state of their hair if they want to turn its condition around. People may have alopecia, if they’ve had hair falling out for months or even years, or thin hair, which has to be matched with lighter products and specific ingredients.”
Melinna implores anyone thinking about going natural to “do your research and remember to love your hair!”
For more information visit Crown Me Natural UK’s Facebook Page www.facebook.com/crownmenaturaluk