In the fall of 2004 I took a leap of faith and moved to Berlin, Germany without a job or speaking the language. I was quickly able to secure several jobs at various English language schools and I insisted that my new friends speak as much German to me as possible so I could learn it fast.
There were a lot of things I had to get used to. The food, the people, and general way of life. What struck me the most were the stares I got on a daily basis.
When I moved to Berlin, Germany in the fall of 2004, there was only 1 'official' black hair salon in the entire city. When I moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 2006 there were a couple more salons but most of them you went to at your own risk. When I moved to Brixton, London in 2007, it was just getting its first natural hair salon. And let's not even talk about products. My visiting family and friends became my mules, filling their luggage with my wishlist from The States.
What was a natural hair wearing girl to do? I knew there were other black and biracial women in the same situation who were also dealing with the same issues. Why weren't there any products for our kinky, coily, curly hair? Why was it so hard to find resources and support groups where we could talk about this seemingly superficial yet very important subject of hair care?
These problems turned out to be blessings in disguise because they taught me how to be proactive instead of reactive regarding the circumstances around me.
I started making my own hair products in Germany because my 'mules' weren't visiting fast enough. I used my products to style my hair and when other seeking women saw my results they quickly became clients and customers. I became known as 'The Hairoine' and unbeknownst to me, I was developing my brand.
I started a natural hair Meetup group, organized hair and beauty workshops/conferences in the European cities I lived in, not because I saw myself as a natural leader but because I knew my host community wouldn't do it for me. How could they when the majority of them weren't even aware that these issues existed?
I feel lucky to have been able to be part of the 'Natural Hair Movement' in Europe and proud to see it gaining so much momentum with women who are turning afro, kinky, curly hair into the 'norm'.
(What was a natural hair wearing girl to do?)
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