“Using hair to create art is the best way to decribe what i do.” -Naledi Thabo
From cornrows, cornfro, cornrolls to Isinopie, oBanana, straight-up and straight-back, there are so many terms used to describe the diverse cornrow hairstyles we plait and see almost daily. Getting your hair braided isn’t just a way of reminding yourself that you are a PENG thing. It’s also a form of social artistry, self expression and an intricate act. Solange did say, “don’t touch my hair, when it’s the feelings I wear” and, “you know this hair is my shit, rode the ride, I gave it time but this here is mine.”
Naledi Thabo is a self-taught nail artist and hair stylist, who also happens to have newly founded two beauty brands, “Nailed Ntswempu” and “Braided By Gods.” What started off as just braiding her own hair as a hobbie, later grew into a side business which involves braiding and styling other peoples hair. Her love for celebrating and documenting black hair in all of its glory allows her to express her customers personality through the cornrows and its accessories.
“Braided By Gods”, was established earlier this year. This business goes far beyond just offering braiding services. It is also a brand that prides itself with celebrating black hair. It strives to change the perspective of black hair globally, by removing the stigmatization and stereotypes attached to black hair being deemed as “ghetto.“ Our hair, its textures, lengths, kink and the distinct hairstyles we plait represent us, they represent our history. The modern day world feeds off from styles, trends and customs that come from the past decades and centuries.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the immense skill and creativity put into creating the perfect hairstyle.”
Cornrows originate from Africa, specifically in Ethiopia. This hairstyle is set to have dated back to least 3000 B.C. The cornrows were not just popular amongst the women. Warriors and kings were identified by their braided hairstyles. The emperor of Tewodros II who reigned from 1855 – 1868 in Ethiopia had cornrows. And the usage of jewelry, beads, hair extensions and other accessories is to elevate not only your hairstyle, but to also allow individuals to express themselves through their hair, but this isn’t just a trend that started now or a few years ago. Women and men decades ago used shells, glass, corals, fresh flowers and twigs to adorn their cornrows and express their personalities.
Drawing inspiration from what she sees in her day to day adventures, Naledi describes her creative process as “very random.” Apart from just braiding and styling the different looks she creates, she also finds ways of incorporating different accessories into the hair styles. Creating hair looks should be fun and it definitely shows with how Naledi creates her looks. No only that, she also intertwines a piece of herself into the looks she creates.
“My favorite look is one where I used pieces of scrap jewelry and attached it to hair. It’s always fun recycling something dull and old to give it new life.”
“Fingers that have perfected the task of bringing unity to.” This line, I quoted really stood out for me, while I was doing my research on the brand. It’s one of the first things I saw before I came across the beautiful images she’s shared on her profile.
She has found a way to not only treat the scalp as her canvas, but to also showcase the beauty of her craft. “Every braid and cornrow i do, i get to bring unity to hair that is untamed, unapologetic, kinky and defies gravity – black hair! I am an artist before before anything else.”
Check out @braidedbygods and @sista.ntswembuu for more.
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