There’s a whiff of hairspray in the air as well as the aura of someone in charge. Her smile is radiant but it does little to distract from the large amount of hair that sits atop her head. For a second, you’re memorized by her afro, that is until you look to the side and wonder if you’re seeing double. Turns out you’re not, and if it wasn’t for the differing hairstyles you’d wonder if you had just entered the house of mirrors.
Sisi Nxumalo is a twenty-seven year old Kwazulu-Natal native with a degree in media and writing and politics from the University of Cape Town as well as a diploma from Bigfish located in Auckland Park. She moved to the city of Johannesburg to venture into documentary film-making but her passion for hair eventually took hold.
Well that explains the afro but the seeing double? Her sister is to blame for that. Sisani Nxumalo is Sisi’s twin sister and although the two often than not argue about who’s technically older, more so due to their parents trying to keep the peace by not telling them, that hasn’t prevented them from being as close today as they were in the womb.
“Sisi is always pushing her own limits in terms of what others say she can and cannot be. Having never gone to business school, she successfully created and runs a business to this day” says Sisani. The business that she speaks of is Hair by Sisi which was founded by her sister three years ago and focuses primarily on weaves akin to natural hair.
Sisi’s passion for hair came at a young age where she would experiment on Sisani’s hair and she laughs at the memory of the hairstyles that did not turn out as well as she hoped they would, “Sometimes it kind of came out as a hot mess”. However, her decision to fully immerse herself in the business side of hair came when she found herself dissatisfied with the various products that she came in contact with thus she decided to both research and travel to find hair that suited her. It wasn’t long before people noticed and began to approach her, asking for the very hair she took so long to find.
Although she works with weaves, she has no issues with the current trend of natural hair. It’s a sight to watch as her entire face lights up at the mention of ‘natural hair’ and it’s clear that she feels anything but malice towards it. Brushing off the various stereotypes about hair, it’s clear that she’s adopted a mature attitude towards societal bigotry “There’s prejudice in anything a women wears, specifically a black woman and her hair” Furthermore, the narrow-minded opinions do little to undermine her integrity or her identity. Sisi has no desire to be boxed in by society, especially for her hair, “Women are versatile. What I hold as my identity differs to what you may hold as your identity”
Her proclamations fall in line with her support for the Pretoria High School Girls, believing that their actions enable individuals to educate one another about various things, “It’s not just ‘hair’. Their actions are empowering to me and other women”
Sisi believes that people undermine the potential that the notion of hair carries. To her, hair has the ability to educate women and men about freedom of choice. Due to the fact that hair is so heavily linked to identity, many individuals are judged due to the manner in which they wear their hair. As a result, many of them find themselves either coerced into presenting their hair in a manner that is highly accepted by society or discriminated against. Sisi believes that an individuals’ hair grants them the opportunity of freedom of choice and they need choose what makes them happy and for that, it deserves your respect.