Ahair salon entrepreneur became so frustrated with the absence of locally made hair products that she created her own that is now the rave of hair businesses across Botswana and the country’s multi-racial customers
As she was working hard to make ends meet in the resort town of Maun, salon entrepreneur Lentlafetse “N-Girl” Dingalo realised that the industry was importing most of its hair products and thus a gap in the market for local products.
For a long time the focus has been on making shampoo and other styling products with natural hair in mind, including hair braids. Dingalo’s is the latest in this effort and has improved the market by introducing locally manufactured hair braids brand called “N-Girl Braids” that come in a range of colours.
“I have been running salons for seven years and owned four in downtown Maun,” the Shorobe native said in an interview. “In these seven years, I have been using different texture of braids and wondering why we didn’t have a local braid. I decided to come up with my own that I call the N-Girl Braid in December 2019. It is not manufactured only for me but for all hairdressers and salon entrepreneurs. What really stands out about these braids is the texture that works with any hair type, hence we have a lot of Caucasians ordering the product.”
The product came at the right time because, according to the global market research firm. Mintel, between 2015 and 2019use of braids and extensions by black consumers grew by 64%. Dingalo says she has received massive support from Batswana across the country and is its race groups. And because Dingalo believes in empowering local businesses,she says she created her product with other hairdressers in mind.
Said the 32-year old entrepreneur: “I am thankful that even during this pandemic Batswana are supporting me. The N-Girl Braid was also manufactured to create an income for hairdressers by buying and reselling the product. It makes sense because braids are the most sought-after product in the hair business. The braid is for anyone who wants to feel and look beautiful.
N-Girl Braids have played an important role in giving the girl-child dignity by donating sanitary pads to children living in the small villages that surround Maun. Every month some of the product’s proceeds go towards sanitary towels for Shorobe and Matsaudi primary schools. But the braids are currently in short supply in shops because the priority is in empowering hairdressers to buy in bulk.
Dingalo says she personally delivers orders across the country. “We manufacturer the braids in Maun where we produce 500 packets a day,” she told Time Out. “However, I have plans to invest in a factory that will increase my range of hair products. We plan to launch a ‘No Itching’ braid spray packaged by N-Girl Braids.”