18 January 2012

Hair Talk: Sasha of I Love Afro

Sasha on left with the other fab half of I Love Afro

Firstly introduce yourself? Where are you from and what do you do?
Hi my name is Sasha Ricketts, born and bred in West London (UK). I am half of the company I Love Afro (natural hair products for afro and curlier hair textures) as well as working in financial services.

How long have you been natural? If all your life, what has kept you from relaxing your hair?
I have been natural for 5 years and I'm loving it!

How did you transition, did you big chop?
It's a bit more complicated. I was told by my stylist at the time to Big chop due to extreme damage after dying my hair blond and relaxing it (I thought it was cute at the time). I refused to have it shaved to a number 1 so she left some of the relaxed ends and I wore a short Halley Berry inspired style for a month while it grew. A month later all the relaxed ends were removed I was left with about half an inch of hair which was scary but quite exhilarating at the same time.

What were the main reasons for your choice to wear your natural hair?
As I mentioned the choice wasn't mine to begin with due to my constant changing of hairstyles, colours and DIY jobs my hair was on it's last legs so the only option was to cut it off and start again. The beginning for me was hard as I wasn't mentally prepared for it but very quickly (within weeks) my confidence grew I realised I was beautiful no matter how I wore my hair as women can often hide behind it.

What are your earliest hair memories? How did these memories influence your hair journey today?
I have many hair memories, good and bad but the one that stands out the most is being about 4/5 years old walking around with a pillowcase on my head and looking in the mirror praying that my hair would be that length. My mum had an array of wigs that I also use to put on (wow looking back I think I was obsessed with length). When I first became natural all I could think of was all the things I could do with my hair once it reached SL, APL, but now I’ve passed these goals I’m not any more satisfied than when I had 4 inches of hair. I often wonder if I really appreciated each stage of growth enough, you know the saying "you always want what you can't have"?

What does having natural hair mean to you?
I definitely think for me it's on a deeper level than just style choice as Tasha (other half of I Love Afro) and I created a business around it. I have never felt more comfortable in myself since becoming natural I love feeling and texture of my hair as well as the versatility it gives me. I no longer feel the need to experiment with cuts and colour to try and be different as I know I am unique. I do feel that I am more in touch with my roots but to be honest I’m not sure if that is due to my hair or just that fact that I’m older and wiser.

How do you keep your hair looking so good?
My basic regimen consists of washing and conditioning my hair once a week, I moisturise with a water based lotion (Shea Moisture Lotion) and seal in the moisture with a butter or oil (Coconut is the oil of choice at the moment) followed by a putting it in braids or flat twists. Because I wash and condition so regularly I find that my hair doesn't need much else such as protein treatments etc. I try to avoid using heat, as my ends can get very dry so to stretch my hair I use the banding method which works really well.
I definitely keep my hair in good condition by identifying what it needs so depending on how it feels I may add extra moisture, wash it or deep condition it etc.

What products do you use in your hair? 
Since creating our I Love Afro range these have been my staple products. As for a favourite if there were any I couldn't live without it would have to be the Wash & Go Shampoo and the Shea Butter Melt.

What are your go to hairstyle? (Favorite hairstyle’s, how do you achieve it?)
My go to hairstyle is definitely a braid out it's quick easy and always gives me fantastic results. I use either the Shea Butter Melt or Choco Butter Melt to achieve frizz free definition.

How do you protect your hair in the winter months?
At the moment I am experimenting with different cornrow styles, making sure it is kept moisturised by regularly spraying/ spritzing my hair. I also wear a lot of updo's in the winter as my ends become very dry so tucking them away is the best way for me to keep them healthy. I love my woolly hats but always wear at satin scarf underneath as wool can suck the moisture out of your hair.

Do you have any advice for women starting out on their natural journey?
Create a regimen that works for you, what works for one person may not work for another. Make sure you enjoy each stage of your journey, just like growing into a women you wouldn't be the rich, beautiful person you are if you skipped all the difficult and uncomfortable parts, they are learning experiences.

What made you start you own product line?
We started our business in 2008 as we found sourcing afro hair products from the UK difficult. Our initial thoughts were to import US products and sell them in the UK but thought why not make our own!! We took time to learn structure of our hair, researched ingredients to promote manageability and learnt the foundations of formulating to create our own product range. Since then I Love Afro has gone from strength to strength.

Do you have any advice for budding businesswomen?
If you have faith and belief in your business idea as well as yourself then you are half way there.
Keeping focused and driven is important as when hurdles present themselves you need determination to carry on. An important element that I think is often overlooked is remembering that "you are your product/ service" make sure you represent your business to the best of your ability by presenting yourself in a professional manner.

Visit I Love Afro Here you can also attend the I Love Afro event 'A Day With I Love Afro' on 4th February 2012 in central London get details Here


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