We're super excited to introduce the latest arrival, Afrocenchix! So we caught up with them to find out a little bit more about the ladies behind the brand.
Hello ladies, can you tell us a little about yourselves?
We are Rachael and Joycelyn, founders of Afrocenchix. We met in student halls at the University of Birmingham and started Afrocenchix as teenagers in our first year.
What is Afrocenchix?
Joycelyn: At Afrocenchix we make high performing natural hair care products by hand for Afro and curly hair and run events to teach women how to care for this beautiful texture. We use 97-100% natural ingredients, because these are active, they actually work on Black hair. Our products are free from animal derivatives and nasties including parabens, sulphates/SLS, mineral oil and parfum/fragrance which are one of the most common allergens.
Rachael: we’re a customer focused health brand so we educate in line with the questions we are regularly asked and work hard to make our products and natural hair information easily accessible.
Why did you start Afrocenchix?
Rachael: Joycelyn used to relax my hair. Once day we were talking as she applied the relaxer, she told me about these products she was making. I'm allergic to life so was over excited when she gave me an oil mix to try and I didn't react.
Joycelyn: there wasn't a natural hair scene in the UK in 2009. I was focused on growing my damaged hair so I had made some products for myself and I told Rachael I didn't come to university to start a business.
Rachael: I'm stubborn so I managed to persuade her she could do it if we worked on it together! We invested £50 each, bought ingredients, did loads of research and made two oil blends which we sold at a small community event in London. The business grew organically from there with us reinvesting in making more products in line with customer demand. We saw that so many people like us wanted natural products that actually worked for black hair. Now our customers keep us going!
What are people saying about your products (best or worse comment so far)?
Joycelyn: People LOVE the smell of our products and the clean, naturally derived ingredients. Most importantly, what keeps them coming back is that the products do what they are meant to; gently clean, moisturise and make Afro hair more manageable. Some of our customers had even given up using shampoos until I found Our Swish sulphate free shampoo! They say it’s the only shampoo that doesn’t leave their feeling stripped whilst keeping their scalp clean.
Rachael: The worst comment we have received was probably the one customer who found the scent too lemony, however, she did explain that she generally dislikes citrus fragrances, so you can't please everyone!
It’s always touching when women come to one of our events and tell us that now they feel confident enough to wear their natural hair out thanks to our products and the education we provide.
What is the one hair product you can’t live without?
Joycelyn: I LOVE Sheen, our moisturising spray. I normally keep my hair in a protective style so Sheen is great for moisturising whilst my hair is tucked away. I love that when I take down braids, my hair is soft and malleable not dry and brittle like it typically was before we made Sheen.
Rachael: It has to be Seal our daily conditioning oil. Absolutely love how soft it leaves my hair and my husband is a massive fan of the scent. I use it after washing my hair, to Bantu-knot outs, on twist, on everything! I've even used it on my skin.
Where do you get your hair done in London?
Joycelyn: I normally do my own hair but if I go to a salon it will be Zuizo salon in Lewisham. Vicky is the head stylist and has over 20 years experience; she is very knowledgeable about both natural and relaxed hair care and uses Afrocenchix products because she loves them as much as we do.
Rachael: It varies. I love Natural Gloe in Ealing and have travelled from east London to get there! Marlene, the lead stylist there, is an artist when it comes to hair. She also uses our products and other non-toxic brands to make sure that your hair is cared for as well as styled.
What is your Favourite hair style?
Joycelyn: I like an impromptu roll, tuck and pin. This style usually comes out best when I don’t plan!
Rachael: Love a puff - it looks great no matter what state your hair is in and always looks a bit different each time, which is great for switching up your look.
Who is your favourite celebrity?
Joycelyn: We are big fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her hair and books are fantastic.
Rachael: We also love Jamelia's honesty and the way she represents Black beauty to help her daughters and so many others to love themselves. We grew up playing her music on repeat and it's great to see her inspire others with her hair journey. Plus she loves plantain as much as we do!
Where is your ideal vacation spot?
Joycelyn: Depends on my mood haa haa! I love a last minute European city break with my husband. We’ll book accommodation in a local neighborhood and always travel by public transport (even from the airport), it’s the best way to absorb the culture. If I am super stressed, a beach holiday is great but I tend to get bored after two days!
Rachael: For me it has to be extreme weather - soaking up the sun in Ghana or the Caribbean or skiing in the alps. I love to travel and enjoy pretty much anywhere I can soak up another culture.
What would you say is your motto in life?
Joycelyn: Do something you care about. If you don’t care about it, you won’t perform well. We care that Afro hair is not typically viewed as beautiful, professional or manageable so I work tirelessly to change this perception.
Rachael: Everything we know we have once had to learn. We started Afrocenchix at 19 and had to learn how to run a business with no training or experience and we have managed to grow it to serve hundreds of customers worldwide. Reflecting on my motto reminds me to be humble when sharing knowledge with others and motivates me to keep pushing when I'm struggling to learn a new skill.