News

7 Nigerian Natural Hair Entrepreneurs To Watch

These Nigerian entrepreneurs have launched innovative hair extension companies and products geared towards empowering natural hair wearers.


Photo: Abby & Ivie Omoruyi (Courtesy of Abby Omoruyi)

Boasting an estimated $500 million-plus price tag, the Black haircare market is big business. Yet, Black entrepreneurs own only a small sliver of this lucrative pie. According to a New York Times article, Black-owned beauty stores constitute only a few hundred of the roughly 10,000 U.S. stores that sell hair products like relaxers, curl creams, wigs and hair weaves to black women. The tide seems to gradually be turning, though, thanks to the Internet and its democratizing capabilities. With a simple click, one can launch an own online retail shop and build a loyal customer base. We've rounded up a group of enterprising Nigerians whose passions for natural hair care and its devoted community are innovating the multibillion dollar industry one curl at a time.

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Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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