Building and connecting the curly and kinky hair community in Bangkok is tougher than I thought it would be. Why? Because in the states in certain cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and other curly friendly cities, it's very easy to find curly and kinky hair women. Further, there is an on and off line community that organises events, workshops, exhibitions, and expos all celebrating our unique hair.
So, when I started what originally was called Afro-Textured and Curly Hair Bangkok, Facebook group, I wanted to organise a curly workshop so curly and kinky hair women can learn how to do their hair and to sell products. I planned this weeks in advanced and ordered all the products just in time to for my fun Saturday workshop. I was going to organise the workshop with another curly business consultant but she catered more to "business to business" platform rather than directly to customers. I was a bit devastated but I moved forward determined to have a successful workshop.
I was not expecting too many people as I was slowly growing my clientele, I would have been happy with 10 people. Saturday afternoons in Bangkok can be busy for people given the weather some people don't want to go outside (understandable). I scheduled the event for 2pm to 4pm to be in the lobby of my apartment building (it's nicer than it sounds). Saturday morning, I took it slow because I knew I would not take too long to get everything set up and ready. Well, I did get everything ready in time, but 12:30pm I got home and rushed to the store to buy food for the event, clean my apartment, and make the avocado deep conditioner (I like to make products fresh) for the attendees. I was worried as only 1 person that day has confirmed that they were attending, so after everything was set up I hastily texted everyone on my LINE to come to the workshop.
The clientele I have are expats, parents, entrepreneurs who have supported me in the past, just could not make it that day. The one person that did come, arrived late (she LINE me about this before and she came from Mo Chit BTS) and told me the challenges she had with her curly hair and how she ran out of products. I was very happy to help and explain each product line that I was selling: My Sister's Closet, Bobeam Natural Products, Going-Natural Inc., and The Hairoine. She ended up purchasing the My Sister's Closet Avocado Deep Conditioner, the Going Natural Inc Herbal Shampoo, some shampoo soap bars by Bobeam, and a hair bonnet.
Though I had one curly customer I was happy to help her purchase the best products to achieve healthy beautiful hair. And to me all my customers matter, each and every one of them!
I am part of both communities, the Natural and Curly Hair Community, thanks to my research on both communities and business ventures to help women living in Asia with curly hair to be empowered to love their curly hair and to have access to the right curly hair products. How did I end up in Asia? Well, before moving to Asia I lived and studied in the Middle East, and after finishing my studies I wanted to move to south east Asia to start my business while supporting myself as an English Teacher (yes, stereotype but I need flexibility and I love teaching!) So, I chose Bangkok, Thailand because its cheap to live, very friendly people, I wanted to live in a big city (not too big), and the expat and entrepreneur community is well-connected. And about 1 year later, I am loving my time in Bangkok, slowly building this curly hair business, and working hard to connect the curly hair community that lives here.
People ask me "is there a curly market?" Yes and no, because 1. Most women straighten their hair, 2. The few curlies that are here (expats, curly Thais, Indians, Arab, and African women), and not familiar with this dynamic online curly community, and 3. It's a very niche market that is not as well organised and advertised as the straight hair care market is. I'm on a mission to help these curly hair women and give them the best products for them! And, I have met a few of them already! And with my years of knowledge on the natural and curly hair community, I am working hard to build this curly hair community and market in Asia.