“We take a lot of decisions and we’re quite independent. How are we so afraid of what people might say about our natural hair?” says Doaa Gawish, Founder of The Hair Addict.
Growing up, many Egyptian women faced immense criticism for their curly hair, from school teachers or family friends bullying them into straightening it to look more presentable, or parents not knowing how to take care of their daughters’ hair and considering it messy or “too frizzy”.
In 2016, Gawish, who has curly hair herself, started a closed group on Facebook as a community to “help people explore natural hair care methods in order to regain the health of their hair”.
“All of us used to blow dry our hair once, twice, thrice a week in order to make it look perfect and sleek. I thought why not start this community where I can help people by sharing my experience about natural hair care remedies,” Gawish tells Egyptian Streets.
Initially, Gawish had a corporate job and did not think her community of promoting self-love could someday turn into a product company. But as the community grew bigger, with other community members sharing tips and tricks as well, she decided to start a heat-free challenge to encourage herself and other women like her to go natural.
Since it was summertime, and heat is very damaging for hair, the group went viral and quickly grew from 5,000 to 80,000 members.
“We started talking about using low chemical products that are off of the shelf to wash and condition our hair, if not natural. We started talking about the curly girl method using low chemicals, and then about natural colorants. One topic led to another and the group grew even bigger,” she adds.
Gawish excitedly remembers how after two years of running the group, people approached her and encouraged her to sell the recipes that she shares with the community as products.
“I always wanted to start my own business. I just didn’t have a good idea.”
At the time, Gawish decided to quit her job and start The Hair Addict as a company, in order to spend money on the content creators and moderators, and turn the community into a business.
“Most of the women in Egypt had one thing in common: hairfall. Four out of five women had experienced severe or above average hairfall at some point in their lives. So, actually, the trigger was: if you want your hair to be healthy, if you want the hairfall to stop, you have to follow a natural hair care regimen because it is sustainable and because it’s healthy,” she says.
Gawish used several natural hair care remedies to treat her own heat-damaged hair. She struggled with not having enough examples at first.
“To encourage people to go natural. I had to ask other people who had naturally curly hair to share their experiences.”
Challenging societal norms and ending the stigma surrounding natural hair was not an easy journey. Gawish recalls how many women resisted her initiative in the beginning, and the negative comments and bullying that she had to stand up to on the group in the start in order to keep the community as a “safe haven” for members to share their experiences.
Today, The Hair Addict is the first people-powered natural hair platform, with over 350k followers on social media, and people all over the world have started embracing the beauty of curly and natural hair.
Curly hair has changed from being mocked to becoming a global trend.
Find out more about The Hair Addict’s journey and their products by visiting their page.