Natural hair, especially 4c textured hair, styled in a simple yet luxuriant look has been frowned upon by many. We often hear people classifying it as an unkempt and unruly look. However, Michelle Orlendo, is changing that perception daily one head at a time. Michelle is seeing to it that as many women in Kenya transition and embrace the beautiful and natural look as possible.
Tired of chemically and heat treating her hair, which had lost volume, and inspired by the fact that African women were rocking their natural hair and slaying, the 23-year-old Michelle woman embarked on a journey of being a naturalista.
The big chop
Michelle Orlendo went for the big chop in July 2015, to the chagrin of many. She had shoulder-length, flowing heat-treated hair, an ideal look for many. As she began her journey slightly over a year ago (on 25th November, 2015), Michelle vowed to involve other women. She especially targeted young girls who would aspire to go natural but lacked the motivation and/or guidance.
The journey ahead was full of trials, criticism, moments of almost giving up and a lot of doubts. However, it began with the opening of a Facebook page dubbed “Nywele Chronicles”, (Nywele is hair in Swahili).
Michelle invited her friends to like the page initially. Only a few liked it, but the fan base gradually picked up through her consistency in giving what the audience wants.
The Nywele effect
A few months after her big chop, Michelle’s hair grew tremendously and ladies started asking questions. Michelle describes her hair as a reflection of her soul, and her hair was glossy and really kinky —in every sense of African amazing kinky.
Questions came pouring in, people wanted to know what Michelle applies, how she styles it and protective styles they could use. With every question came the realisation that she could start a blog. Michelle thought to move away from only posting pictures on her social media platforms, but also write reviews of the products she used and how she styled her hair.
From it’s inception, Nywele Chronicles gained a huge amount of followers who genuinely wanted a smooth transition from chemically treated hair to natural hair. Michelle became a hair consultant of some sort. Ladies would approach her to feel her hair and request her to cater to theirs the same way. Her glorious mane turned heads in school, Moi University, as people started calling her by her page’s name, Nywele Chronicles.
“It has not been an easy journey to keep my focus on updating my social media pages, getting the time to do tutorials amongst other things.” Michelle says. “I’d have given up were it not for my passion and the strong support system I have.” This is how Michelle Orlendo persevered through the challenges to get to the one year mark.
Aiming to encourage women to love their natural hair
Michelle hopes to have her own products that cater to African-textured hair in the market, in a span of less than 5 years. With a salon to her name and a degree in Trichology —a branch of dermatology that deals with the scientific study of the health of hair and scalp— a consultancy will come in handy.
With her experience, Michelle always looks at people’s hair and analyses it even before touching. She can easily tell hair that lacks moisture, too much heat treatment and malnourished hair.Michelle Orlendo stays motivated by the fact that Nywele Chronicles will soon be a business Click To Tweet
Now in her final year studying Actuarial Science, Michelle Orlendo stays motivated by the fact that she will soon be turning Nywele Chronicles into a business. Aiming to encourage women to love their natural hair is her tag line. This is being actualised as Michelle is helping transitioning women to wear their natural look, and feel glamorous while at it, through Nywele Chronicles.
She further adds that the initiative has really helped build her confidence and esteem. Going natural has made Michelle appreciate herself holistically and opened a new window through which she views herself.
To everyone that wants to venture in the formally perceived ‘not-so ideal’ courses and activities Michelle Orlendo says;
“If you feel like the timing is right to do anything that you want to do, go ahead and do it. Forget what people will say and do it. There is no harm in trying. Do not be afraid of failure, keep trying.”
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