SNATCHED Box braids done by Princess Motloung. Photo: ­Supplied/­­@snatched.by.pree

BIPOC Students Braiding Hair

By Laura Mutyambizi

Coming to Stellenbosch as a student of colour may be a daunting experience, as the majority of Stellenbosch’s population is white. With this, there might be a fear that certain needs that are unique to BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of colour) students will not be met. One of these needs is hair salons.

There is a limited number of BIPOC hair salons in Stellenbosch. This inaccessibility makes it a strenuous task for BIPOC students to maintain their hair through relaxing, washing, and styling or braiding. It becomes very taxing to look for a good hair salon or someone who braids hair. Additionally, because of this limitation, there is no wide market for competitive pricing, causing a strain on a student’s budget due to the expense of getting their hair braided. This is exclusive of getting the fibre to braid. 

Ntombizethu Cele, a third-year BCom (Management Sciences) student, explains, “Coming from Pietermaritzburg, which is primarily black, Stellenbosch was a [culture shock] because it was very easy for me to get someone [in Pietermaritzburg] to do braids for as a little as R100, including the hair pieces.”

Cele notes that Stellenbosch made her notice certain challenges that she had never faced before, such as affordability and time consumption in searching for good hair stylists, since the POC hair salons that she has encountered are mostly focused on coloured people’s hair. This is an issue because of the different hair texture they have compared to black people. Thus, she narrows down the main issues to “affordability, availability and quality”. 

Moreover, it is difficult to find hair products that tend to BIPOC hair, as the only easily accessible store is Clicks in Eikestad Mall, which has a wider range than Checkers or PEP. 

This limitation has inspired many students to start their own hair or braiding businesses on ­Instagram.

Princess Motloung, a ­second-year BSc (Human Life Sciences) student, found that “there was a gap in Stellenbosch, as the available hairdressers charged [exorbitant] prices”, so this pushed her to learn how to do her own hair. When she improved her braiding skills, she opened up her services to other students at a student-­friendly price. 

Motloung meets clients and runs her business on her ­Instagram page ­@snatched.by.pree. 

Tasimba Ndengu, a third-year international student studying BCom (Law), learnt how to braid hair by watching her mom, and states “I never used to braid ­seriously until I came to Stellenbosch.” So she began braiding her own hair. 

In her second year she began to braid professionally and ­started her own business, which has ­allowed her to earn extra ­money. She mainly does box braids, ­twisted braids and cornrows. 

All of Ndengu’s previous work can be found on her Instagram page ­@hairby_tas.

These students have not only found innovative ways to earn ­extra money, but also ways to help ­BIPOC students who need to get their hair done at an ­affordable price. 

Moreover, they have ­realised that while a gap in access to ­hairdressers for BIPOC students still exists, there are ways to turn lemons into lemonade. 

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