the naturalista: chocolaty naturals

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Naturalista: Bella Nakato

Dream Job: Doing it! My  business, EnviriZaNacho where we endorse, support and contribute to the growth of African entrepreneurs who are working day and night to provide wholesome, non-toxic cosmetics to our African market and beyond. We currently do this through our beauty store; ShopEzN in Ntinda, Kampala, Uganda and also through our events, social media and different communications channels.

Fave spots In Kampala: I’m a homebody, so home wins hands down,also any hangout where I am  with my favourite people would be great too.

Passionate about: African entrepreneurship, natural healthy beauty, positive inspiration and practical impact

Currently listening to: Crush by Yuna ft Usher (sidebar: that little Afro’d girl in this  video is so cute, right?)

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your natural hair journey so far? 

I am 28 years old, I have had my natural hair for about 4 years now and have learnt a lot, made mistakes and grown a whole lot along the way. I believe having and enjoying our natural beauty should be our default and not an out-of-the-norm occurrence. I believe health and beauty should go hand in hand and health shouldn’t be sacrificed for beauty.

What are your top tips for someone looking to do their big chop? 

  • Do it for yourself.
  • Understand that everything takes time, including hair growth, so, pace yourself.
  • Take ownership of your beauty journey, do your research, no one should know more than you about your daily self-care & grooming.
  • Enjoy your own journey, go ahead and try out different styles, accessories, this natural beauty was passed down to us from our grandmothers and great grandparents  who were naturally very beautiful people so we need to cherish it and learn more about it as we pass it on to future generations.

What’s something you’ve been looking forward to doing in 2016?

Something I have been looking forward to doing in 2016, is what I am doing now with Shop EzN. To actively run a wholesome beauty store with non-toxic beauty products made by innovative Africans, whereby us as Africans are earning and richly benefiting, straight from the shea nuts farmer all the way to the final consumers of the wholesome products.

Were there any influences that pushed you towards growing your natural hair? 

Yes there were, after a few negative experiences abroad, I decided to embrace my African heritage 100% and not make excuses but instead find out what worked. About four years ago, I was still discovering about natural hair and so, I started the EnviriZaNacho page on Facebook just to share inspiration from what the Black Americans were sharing online, and how they were innovating and styling their kinky, curly, coily natural hair to inspire ourselves and celebrate our African natural beauty. EnviriZaNacho  then went ahead and organised our first ever natural hair meetup event where the goal was to inspire African entrepreneurship in the natural, non-toxic, wholesome beauty sector instead of just importing but rather innovating & manufacturing our own wholesome cosmetics with the fresh, wholesome rich ingredients we have here in Uganda and Africa and I am very proud to say that 3+  strong natural hair beauty brands have since then grown from those rich interactions.

Congratulations on the opening on your cool Natural Hair shop in Kampala 🙂 take us through your journey leading here and some of your hopes for EZN shop.

Thank you so much!

Shop EzN is a natural beauty cosmetics and more store. We intentionally and happily stock high quality African(for now we are focused on Ugandan innovators and creators) non-toxic beauty products. As a natural, I used to walk, take a boda, grab a taxi and so on all over town and across, just to stock up on the bare necessities and I would find that it ate into my pocket, for the exorbitant prices charged for imported products and the criss-cross movement all over town was plain tiring.

So Shop EzN was set up to be a one-stop shop for our great quality diverse exclusively Ugandan(and African) cosmetics and beauty products and accessories so one could pick up and also select from great alternatives depending on their needs and so far, it has been great. We get naturals coming in to stock up on their favourite products all the way from Kampala and outskirts and even from Kigali, Rwanda and those who live upcountry too , from Tororo, Mbarara, Gulu which showed us that indeed this is needed. We also do deliveries so those who cannot make it to the shop still get to enjoy their favourites.

Right now I can’t stop using…

a combination of Livara’s Kiss me now and Virgin Lips all natural lipsticks, The Kentaro Berry Smoothie to detangle and deep condition my hair and my Envirizanacho satin pillowcases for great beauty sleep and to keep my face and skin moisturized, plus wrinkle & frizz free .

Share with ussome of your role models that embrace their natural beauty

Some of my favourites that embrace their natural beauty are of course the powerful innovative ladies (and brains)  behind the rich natural beauty brands we stock in Shop EzN,Ntinda. Kentaro(The good hair collective), Peninah(The Moisture well), Maxie(Livara Shea cosmetics), Yvonne(Lake house Uganda), Josephine(House of Josephine), Amelia and Charlene(Rhanika), Clarissa(Rissa Naturals), Allen(Closet candy inc) and Anna(Anna’s Accessories). These ladies inspire with their hardwork, confidence, determination and sense of urgency to provide exciting healthy, all natural cosmetics, accessories and more, for us Ugandans.  And indeed they are a beautiful bunch in and out.

My mother introduced us to the search for wholesome & rich beauty and grooming products, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit and I think this interest and love translated into this passion & drive to see Africans winning in healthy beauty, product quality and innovation for our own people, solving our particular challenges uniquely and exporting our practical solutions globally.

What’s the future for natural hair care in Uganda?

The future for natural hair care in Uganda is limitless options of healthy great quality products for the Ugandan consumer, increased Public acceptance and positive growth in appreciation of our natural coily, kinky, curly hair as a great part of our heritage and of course easier maintenance and more public knowledge on healthy natural hair practices. Yes indeed, we Ugandans are on the right track and the options & diversity of salons that know how to handle natural hair care, healthy rich products and talented stylists are increasing daily.

Are you supplying these products to saloons?

Currently, ShopEzN doesn’t supply to salons however, our diverse brands are used widely by several different salons who purchase in store and also directly via the product brands themselves which makes so much sense because Uganda Naturals love these products.

5 must haves for a new natural?

  1. Satin bonnet/cap/pillowcase
  2. Good reliable Information about healthy hair and skin practices
  3. Confidence, confidence, confidence
  4. Curl-friends(friends with whom you can share information and encouragement with)
  5. Lots of water(and a great conditioner) to detangle, it helps make hair-care (& life ) that much easier. J

5 things to stay away from as a new natural?

Stay away from:

1.Negative, un-supportive opinions of your hair and so on.

2.Harsh hairstyles that steal edges, damage hairlines and break hair.

  1. Heat is not good unless you know a professional or experienced person to help blow-dry /press your hair after heat-protecting it thoroughly.
  2. Ignorance; knowledge is power, do your research, all the information is online and available, so you can make informed decisions.
  3. Toxic cancer-causing products, read through product ingredient lists so you can know what the product offers you and which one is just full of toxic fillers and additives to stay away from.

Thank you so much for stopping by,

Karen