NeAisha Campbell’s natural hair journey began 11 years ago when she headed off to college.
“There were no stylists who knew how to do my hair near where I went to school,” Campbell says. “I wasn’t looking to go natural. I stumbled upon it.”
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By the summer after her freshman year, she had a significant amount of natural hair growth. After four years of going natural, she opted for locks.
But as she traveled down the road to natural hair, she was frustrated by the lack of resources to help her navigate the path. She searched through the “bowels of Yahoo and Google” for informations. But she didn’t even know the correct terminology to start searching.
“If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it’s hard to figure out how to find it,” says the 29-year-old Virginia native. “Most sites were for people with straight hair, I realized there was a need for information about natural hair and locks.”
Naani — dedicated to the memory of her mother, Juanita Campbell — was conceived as a character who would help guide the site’s readers through the natural hair journey. She created a database of articles, and launched www.naani.com in 2001 with the goal of creating a comfortable and supportive online environment where individuals could gather free hair care and styling information.
The site includes a wide variety of photos and articles, with libraries on such subjects as cornrows, dreadlocks, weaves, braids, weaves, natural hair and relaxers.
Her interest in pure essentials, organic herbs, butters and oils led to the development of personal recipes and products designed to address a wide variety of her own hair and skin issues, a line called Naani’s Naturals. The bath and body line now includes over 200 organic, vegan and cruelty-free products — most handcrafted and naturally derived. The line includes sulfate-free shampoos, herbal conditioners, Aida No More Frizzies, Lock ‘D Down Dreadlocks Butter, Curly Custard Maximum Definition Hairdress as well as Juanita All-Natural Design Cream
“It’s nice that I can make a living off something I have a passion about,” Campbell says.
She was able to leave her day job in mid-2002 to devote her full time to the site.
“We’re still growing and like a child,” Campbell says. “There have been some hiccups along the way. We’re constantly tweaking it.”