The Native African Student Organization (NASO) partnered with AfricansGoneNatural to host an event encouraging women of African descent to embrace their natural hair and inspire them to become entrepreneurs.
Afrikinky is AfricansGoneNatural’s new college tour, and Friday night’s event at Montclair State was its first ever stop, according to co-founder Olivia Frempong. She and Cynthia Oppong started AfricansGoneNatural in 2015 with a goal to empower women to love their natural hair and beauty, said Frempong. Their current mission through this movement is called “behind the kinks.”
“We are looking at helping ladies embrace their natural hair,” said Frempong. “But also looking at other aspects of their lives [like] business, education [and] fitness.”
The event featured an entrepreneurship panel, where Lunic Boyd, Natasha Bray and Rejoice Affram discussed their lives and success as African-American businesswomen.
“Just because I had a college degree does not mean I’m going to be successful,” Boyd said. The entrepreneur and author talked of her work in radio, her failures, her drug addiction she once faced and the help of God and good relationships with people that put her into a better position.
Boyd didn’t want to do anything unfulfilling, which meant she had to bartend seven nights a week to work toward her career goals.
“No one told me that passion doesn’t pay the bills,” Boyd said. Boyd’s aunt saw her passion to be an entrepreneur, and helped her figure out how to get loans and gain capital.
AfricansGoneNatural also brought a few African-American women on their mentorship team, a program that they are developing to help students with their future business goals.
Bloggers Janet Yeboah and Temitope Olatunbosun gave the audience natural hair tips. Many audience members were given free natural hair products, and African-American, women-owned small-businesses had items to purchase in the back of the room.
Toward the end, a few students modeled natural hair as well as clothing and makeup inspired by African heritage. NASO dancers also performed.
Business Marketing major and NASO event coordinator Roseline Conteh, 20, has been working with hair since her youth, and was able to style some of the models. She wants to show people you can “rock your natural hair.” There is a stereotype that natural hair looks unruly, but there are ways you can style it to look presentable, according to Conteh.
“Although [Afrikinky] is based on African culture and their fashion and different ways of self-care,” said 20-year-old sophomore Amanda Alston, “I think it’s going to bring a lot of different cultures together.”