After ditching synthetic hairstyles and embracing her natural hair, one Kenyan entrepreneur is making it possible for many Africans to wear their hair any which way they like.
Michelle Ntalami started Kenya's first quality natural hair care line, Marini Naturals, in response to the lack of organic products on the market specifically catering for natural, Afro-textured hair.Since opening shop in Kenya in 2013, Marini Naturals products can now be found on the shelves of beauty stores and supermarkets across East Africa, South Africa and even France.
"I have a vision to make Marini Naturals the leading hair care line for all women in Africa and beyond," Ntalami told CNN in an interview.
"I feel very accomplished to have -- in the time frame of just a year -- to be able to move Marini Naturals from Kenya beyond borders."
Magic in moisture
Marini Naturals 100% organic products include a sulfate-free shampoo, moisturizing spritz, and a potent hair growth oil.
One of Marini Naturals' most popular products however, is a curling butter containing oils from avocado, strawberry and coconut as well as various butters like shea butter and mango butter.
"African hair naturally needs moisture to be able to be maintained properly so butters tend to seal in the moisture very well," explained Ntalami.
Success with a price tag
But creating these products came at a cost, as Ntalami was initially tasked with getting research laboratories, formulators, chemical engineers and cosmetic scientists.
"Some of our challenges in the very beginning was raising that start up capital," said Ntalami.
With the help of her family and an investment club, Ntalami was able to raise between $70,000 to get Marini Naturals off the ground.
"I got a lot of support from my family, my mom, my brother, who came through for me and we were able to collect all the finances we could to set up shop."
As Marini Naturals continues to spreads its wings, so more and more African women are encouraged to let their natural hair loose.