Beautifully Brown is so honored to be the first to announce the new Blow Out collection by Heat Free Hair! Over the weekend, I got the amazing chance to catch up with founder and owner, Ngozi Opara, in an exclusive interview on her road to success, the new collection and what it’s like being a young, Brown entrepreneur. Check out our fun, educational interview below and prepare to purchase your the new Blow Out collection, June 30th!
Ngozi, where did the inspiration for HFH come from?
I think about 3-4 years ago, the Maryland/DC area was embracing the natural movement. That was about the time I moved back from North Carolina; I went to North Carolina A &T, and I opened up a small hair studio. At the time, sew-in weaves were a big deal and my clients were really into them. A lot of them were coming in and getting these straight weaves because that’s really what they knew.
But my real hair was natural and big at the time, and a lot of my clients were starting to say, “We want that look…we want a weave that still protects our hair. How can we do that?”
For the longest I was using Brazilian hair and Indian hair to do the straight and wavy looks on my clients. But I was transitioning them natural at the same time. So, they’d have a bit of leave out. But the thing about leave out is that there is a difference between having the straight textured weave and having the kinky roots. So a lot of my clients were having the “leave out” issue. There was a point in time when I was perming people’s leave out or putting a lot of heat on it and I really felt like a hypocrite. I thought, “Here I am teaching these women about healthy styling and I’m pretty much frying their leave out, just to get it to blend with hair that doesn’t match their texture. So that was really my inspiration. I felt like there has to be a way for these women to go heat free and still use weave as a way to protect and grow their hair.
And so, the Heat Free Hair Movement was born?
Yep! I was like “Oh, I should create some sort of movement or something”. At the time, I didn’t know what that would encompass. But it eventually became something where it was protective styling classes, natural hair gatherings and then ultimately the Heat Free Hair line.
How were you able to perfectly match your Heat Free Hair textures to those of Black women’s various textures?
What was really awesome, at the time I had a few clients and my sister whom were all on board and told me that whatever I needed help with they had me. So my sister, a friend of mine and a client of mine let me cut some of their real hair out as my first initial sample prototype. Being able to take my sister’s 4C hair type and use it as a prototype that I was initially working with is what made me study the hair and review the shape and coils of it. Then I thought, “Let me see if I can find someone to match this texture based on her curl and coil”. It then became a matter of making the best choice that could fit amongst different varieties of textures. It was good that I had people’s hair to work with before I even created the collection.
It’s amazing to know how much intial work went into creating the Heat Free Hair line. It’s always been a struggle for Black women to find weaves that actually match their textures.
Can you quickly break down how you moved into the manufacturing process of HFH?
I was initially working with already established companies overseas in China. I was sending them samples and having them create it and have them send it back. But what I realized was that it was a lot of room for error. I couldn’t guarantee the quality that they were producing or the textures that they were creating. So, I realized I needed to be able to manufacture my hair. I was able to partner with one of the manufacturers at the company. I asked if I could move to China and learn the process. That was such a far-fetched idea because no one had ever done it before. They didn’t really allow foreigners in factories. So, I cut a deal with them where I was able to learn manufacturing in classes, and in exchange I would hire my classmates at my manufacturing company. Once I learned the technology for myself, production became much easier. I was able to oversee the collection from beginning to shipping. Having that control over every step of the process helped set us apart, but also got our manufacturing intact. Now we manufacture by ourselves.
How did you spread the word about HFH?
Honestly, it was really word of mouth. But it was also a new concept for people. A lot of women were just like “Oh my gosh, what is this Heat Free Hair movement?” From there it was a spiral of people being able to embrace this idea of taking textured human hair and making it into extensions. That was really the benefit of pioneering heat free hair.
Tell us about the new Blow Out collection!
In a few weeks, we’re launching our new Blow Out collection for women who want that natural blown out look without really having to blow out their hair. It’ll be cool because we’ll have it in two colors: natural and ombre. The good thing, too, is that it can be really big, or you can blow-dry it to be straighter. It’s semi-indestructible. We’ve been working on it for about a year to make sure the technology is right and it’s humidity resistant. It’s good stuff!
As a young entrepreneur, how do you have any balance in your life?
Solid question. I was just talking to one of my mentors the other day about this! To a certain extent, balance is overrated. But, I do have this thing where I have to travel every couple of months. I have spurts of go hard and then I plan a trip out of the country or a girl’s trip for the weekend. Also, at one point I stopped taking as many clients as I did before. Everything is about scheduling for me, though. So I may have to say to myself, “From 12-2pm on Saturday, I’m going shopping!”
In terms of dating, eh! I flirt around with Tinder, just to have entertainment. But it terms of having anything solid, I’m just a firm believer that it’ll happen when it’s supposed to happen.
What is your opinion right now on the natural hair movement?
I’m happy to see women more confident in their own skin and hair textures. I’m happy to see who we naturally are being deemed “cool”. What I don’t want is for natural hair to be a fad. I’m not a natural Nazi, but I do think that there’s a beautiful thing that women are having options available to feel comfortable in their hair texture. But I will say that I don’t think it’s fair for people to feel that they can define what being natural is for other women. There are some people who say, “Oh, well having natural extensions is not natural.” But it was created for you so that you can remain natural while still having options to protect your hair. I want no parts of the natural Nazi mini-movements. Honestly.
In addition to the new Blow Out Collection, what’s next on your business radar?
We’re gearing up to go to LA and do a pop-up shop there. We’ll have a brunch and retail days as well, just to be out there and engage our supporters in the LA area. We’re also trying to eventually have stores. That’s for sure a future goal. I think this next year will be awesome!
Prepare to purchase the new Blow Out collection June 30th on HeatFreeHair.com!