The hair tips, advice and recommendations given on this blog are given based on the experiences of the authors. These tips may not work for everyone and every hair type and it is important to acknowledge this since we are neither hair specialists nor trichologists.

Also many pictures on this blog belong to the authors but there are others that we do not have ownership for and thus we do not claim ownership of the ones that do not belong to us.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"I just love all kinds of natural hair|" - Interview with Nibi (Kinky Apothecary)

Nibi is the founder and owner of Kinky Apothecary - Lagos' first one-stop kinky hair shop. Nibi was interviewed on BGLH in 2010. She is gracious, approachable and excited about the growth of "natural hair awareness" in Nigeria. Meet Nibi.

Name? Nibi.

Where are you from and where do you live? Born in Lagos, raised in London, live somewhere between the two.

What do you do? By day, I am the Head of Corporate Finance for a large West African property development group specialising in low and middle income housing projects. By night, I run The Kinky Apothecary, Lagos's first one-stop natural hair products shop! Hence why my blogging has had to take a back seat over the past few months.

Where can we find you online? My blog: or my facebook page:

How long have you been natural? 12 years with a wobble about 4 years ago where I texturized and immediately started transitioning back.

Tell us about Kinky Apothecary. What made you decide to do this? How has the journey been so far? Location? Hours of operation? Well, just to clear something up, the Kinky Apothecary has not, up until now, had a physical store. What the Kinky Apothecary is, is a supplier of natural hair products, and natural hair consultancy. We sell brands such as Aubrey Organics, Giovanni and Taliah Waajid by delivery. We have just entered into a few more deals with some well-known brands, so our product range is expanding rapidly in the next few months.

We are also in the process of developing our own line, and have a couple of items already on sale, and we supply a variety of carrier and essential oils. Customers call or email for a price list, and we deliver all over Lagos and we've even had some deliveries to other states too (as far as Maiduguri). But now after 18 months of this, we now finally have our own shop, which we will be launching at our December 18th event, and from early next year we will also have a concession at another shop on the mainland. We're just working out the finer details.

I started The Kinky Apothecary because after the texturizer blip, I was on a real healthy hair crusade, and would read all these websites like Curly Nikki and BGLH, but could never find the recommended products in any shop in Lagos and when I looked for alternatives, everything I could find contained mineral oil, silicones and sulphates which I wanted to avoid. I realised there was obviously a demand, and so decided to build my own company selling only products which are free of ingredients I feel are undesirable for a variety of reasons. I also wanted to develop a platform where we were not only reliant on these imported products, but to encourage locally made products as well. We have so many amazing ingredients growing right here in Nigeria. It was when I bought a tub of Shea Butter from the UK and thought 'hang on a minute...' that it clicked. Yes, I am a little slow! So I am always on the look out for natural hair and skin mixologists who have products they would like me to stock.

Also I would get people stopping me ALL the time, asking me about my hair, wasn't it hard to take care of, saying that they loved it and that they would really like to go natural but didn't know where to start or that their hair was "hard", and so I realised there was a real need for a consultancy and developed that side of things by organising our Champagne, Cupcakes and Curltalk workshops (featuring my 3 favourite things!) which we started 18 months ago! Since we started I have encouraged a lot of people to go natural, or wear their natural hair out, and I can't help feeling a little proud of that somehow.

We're actually having another one of those events (and 1st birthday bash) in Lagos on December 18th in conjunction with the ladies from Leave In The Kinks.

The journey has been extremely tough. The business grew so quickly, which I am only grateful for, but considering I also have an extremely demanding full-time job, at times it has felt like I was doing too much. A lot of the time, I just have to remind myself every day of what my goals are, and try not to get sidetracked or disheartened the odd time things have gone wrong. But I have to say it has been an incredible learning experience, and I have met so many wonderful people as a result of setting up.

What's next for Kinky Apothecary? Well we are opening our first store, actually. And we do have LOADS of exciting things coming up, which I can't really divulge at this stage. For example, I just agreed to a deal with one of my favourite product manufacturers of all time, and I really can't wait until we start stocking them!!

From your perspective, what is the natural hair scene like in Lagos / Nigeria? The natural hair scene has changed a lot from when I first came back. It is still not the norm, but I have started to see more and more naturals coming out. Even people who were natural before under their weaves have started wearing their own hair out more. However, we still have a LONG way to go!

At one time you had your hair relaxed. Tell us why you decided to go natural. I get asked this question a lot, but because it was so long ago, I actually can't really remember. I know there was a trend with people chopping their hair off and texturising at the time. I chopped, and liked my hair as it was without the chemicals, so kept it as it was. I also remember a friend of mine had really damaged relaxed hair and had gone natural and I LOVED her twists and wanted them too. I also hated relaxing. I have a really sensitive scalp and would get burned every single time. I also liked the way my hair looked for about a week after relaxing, but then it wouldn't be so great after that, and I just hated the whole maintenance thing. Having to do something to it every 6 weeks, I just could not be bothered.

It was nothing political, and nothing really I thought deeply about. I just felt like being natural, so I didn't have a touch up for 3 months and then chopped. I have nothing against relaxers on anyone else. It was just that for me I just could not be bothered, and now I am more aware, I just would never put chemicals on or near my scalp again.

Do you have a “hair mentor” or “hair crush”? I actually have loads of different mentors and crushes, because I just love all kinds of natural hair. Of course there are all the usual like Shinghai Shoniwa from The Noisettes, Janelle Monae, because she is just so funky, Yaya from America's Next Top Model, Corinne Bailey Rae. But I also frequently have hair crushes on people I see on the street. Big curls, small crinkles, inch long TWA's, huge afros. Love it all. And whenever I see another natural rocking her hair with pride, I usually can't help but smile.

It was quite funny actually, the other day I walked past this girl with really lovely natural hair. I tried to pretend I wasn't staring and calmly walked by, but when she had passed I turned round to admire it in its full glory, and realised that she had stopped and turned round to do exactly the same to me. We both laughed and struck up a conversation and hair tips, and ended up swapping email addresses.

What’s your hair regimen? Although I always tell my customers the importance of having a hair regimen, I am embarrassed to say I don't really have one as such *slaps wrists for not practising what she preaches*. But I guess what I am always trying to tell them is that different things work for different people, so they have to find their own groove!

I wash once a week, usually. Definitely no less frequently than every 2 weeks and that is a struggle- I only do that if my hair is in twists. But what I wash with changes all the time. I make sure I deep condition my hair at least 9 times out of every 10 I wash, because I have very porous hair that craves moisture, and despite this new trend of scientists saying there is no real benefit to leaving conditioner on for longer, I can ALWAYS tell the difference. My staple is Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose, sometimes with Olive Oil and Honey added in to give it an extra punch. I try loads of different conditioners, because I always make sure I try out products before I sell them. However, I always come back to my old love: Aubreys! As I said, my hair is really porous, so I can have moisture retention issues. To counter this, I give myself a mild protein treatment every few weeks with the Aubreys GPB. This is a really mild treatment, so if I ever feel I need more of a protein boost, I do a treatment with eggs, mayonnaise and olive oil.

I always wash my hair in sections now- cowash or shampoo each section, apply my conditioner, detangle with my fingers or a seamless wide-toothed comb (I alternate hand and comb every other wash), then I twist, cover with a plastic cap to deep condition, and rinse in twists. I haven't washed loose in a bout a year now, and this has really cut down on tangles.

For my go-to braidouts and twistouts, I untwist each section to apply my leave-in, and twist it back up to dry partially. Then I go through each section to make smaller twists or braids with my Kinky Apothecary Whipped Shea Batter, which is a souped up Shealoe- it is water based, and contains a variety of oils in addition to the Shea and Aloe. It looks and smells just like coconut cake batter, so I am changing the name to that. I do experiment with different things sometimes, but this is my standard 'I don't have time for anything else' regimen

I also sometimes play around with Ayurvedic clays when I have the time, and have just perfected a shampoo bar and a clay-based conditioning mask which are going to form part of the Kinky Apothecary line. They are being debuted at the December event. A few months ago, I also started using the line that we are about to start stocking. It is actually torture that I can't say what it is.

Products you would wait in line for? *wink* Ooh, I can't answer that without giving away the big secret of which products we are about to start stocking! Ask me again in 2 months, but let me just say, I LOVE every single product they have ever made!!!

How do people react to your natural hair? Positive, or negative or just odd? Usually positive, even people who think they don't "like" natural hair, mainly because people like big hair, I guess. I do get the odd snide comment, but because I can honestly say I actually am totally in love with my hair, those comments tend to irritate me for a second and then roll off my back. Some statements have been made, however, that I find so amusing that I still repeat them years later. Not because I am upset by them, but because I am just astounded and actually amused by the ignorance. But I can safely say my hair is definitely always a topic of conversation- good or bad!

If you get negative comments about your natural hair who are they from and how do you deal with them? When I first moved back to Lagos 5 years ago, I would get unwelcome comments from colleagues all the time. Now I'm the boss, those comments have stopped suddenly... to my face anyway! Lol!! I do have the weave brigade dropping snide comments once in a while, but hey. Really doesn't bother me that much

What hairstyles do you usually wear? Braidouts and twistouts because I like to keep my hair stretched. Pulled back or in an updo for work (I also sometimes wear my chunky twists and braids to work. Don't judge me!). And out in its full glory at night or at weekends.

What do you like best about being natural? It's so versatile. I still get amazed at what it can do. I derive pleasure from playing around with it. I just think it looks best on me. I feel like I have a bit of a healthier lifestyle because once I started choosing healthier options for my hair, it filtered down to all other aspects of my life, down to what I eat (although you will pry cheesy wotsits from my cold dead orange fingers!)

What do you hate most about being natural? It's all just a part of who I am. Yes sometimes I get frustrated when detangling. I have to say shrinkage does my head in, especially in this Lagos humidity! You get ready for a night out and within 30 minutes it is a completely different hair style. But I would still take that over anything else! Apart from that, there is absolutely nothing I hate about my hair.

Have you ever had an “Ooops!” or “OMG!” moment with your hair? Tell us about it and how you resolved it. So many, I don't even know where to start. Now they really only tend to be failed twistouts or braidouts, so I just pull my hair back and sort it out the next day. But I have had some disasters in the past.

Oh, I just remembered one! When I tried to dye my hair myself, in the first year I went natural. I bought a permanent box dye from the chemist, rushed home and, barely glancing over the instructions, proceeded to haphazardly slather it on to my afro (I didn't really know much about sectioning or shingling, even though looking back, that's just common sense). The colour was totally wrong for my skin tone, so much so that I almost gave myself a heart attack whenever I passed a mirror! And, gasping for breath between fits of hysterical laughter, my cousin pointed out that I had completely missed a patch and was walking around with a dark circle on the back of my head. I booked an emergency hairdressers appointment for the next day where they managed to tone the colour down a bit, and then pretty much just twisted my hair for months until it grew out. The two-toned twists looked quite cool though, almost as if I had done that on purpose.

What do you say to people like you about going natural? I always tell my customers that it can be tough, it can be frustrating, but don't give up before you've tried all the options. Look at the products you are using and the ingredients in them, and that might be what's causing issues (my hair does things now with certain products that I never thought it would). Also NEVER compare your hair to other people, everyone's hair is totally different, and fabulous in its own way. And finally, if it doesn't work out, and you know you've really tried, then really don't beat yourself up about it. We are all individuals with choices for a reason. If you find that the creamy crack is the best way for you after all, then do you!

What's next for you on your natural hair journey? I'm actually thinking of going for the chop (I'm at mid-back length now). I look at people with short hair starting their journeys and I do feel a bit jealous remembering the journey, and getting excited comparing lengths to a few months before and talking about how much it had grown (I know, its weird when I think about that awkward stage where I couldn't do anything with it). I think I may start with an inverted bob first (cut the back and keep the front long, as I have already started trimming more off the back so the front catches up) and then if I am still feeling scissors happy, I may chop it all off. But whatever I do, I will definitely continue to embrace all that is fabulous about being natural!

Keep it natural!



Africa Naturalista said...

Yea, I met her at the meet up. Her hair is so long and full and nice.

Now following you

Omozo said...

Yeah she has really long hair! Thanks for following Africa Naturalista!

Funmilola said...

I stumbled and i mean stumbled on your blog by mistake. i BC'd about a month ago but could find anywhere in Lagos to get cones and sulphates free products. We all know the wahala with attempting to order online and deliver to Nigeria. I was able to find a website that did deliver but it took forever (almost 4weeks)!!!!! and i didn't have that much patience so i went and braided my hair while i was waiting for my hair products to arrive.

I'm so glad there's somewhere in Lagos where i can get natural hair products from.