The natural hair movement is highly significant in society today, as there has continuously been a lack of representation for black women in the media. This movement was an inspiration to Chloé Elliott, a young entrepreneur studying at the University of Leeds who within the last year has attempted to address problematic beauty standards through the creation of her natural hair blog and Instagram account CurlyGalChlo. “Growing up in a predominantly white area, I always had people staring at me, so I might as well give them something to look at.” With this motivation in mind, Chloé has set about changing the narrative and normalising the natural hair aesthetic. The natural hair movement is a way for black women to defy the societal norms and dismantle European beauty standards. Nowadays, more and more women of colour are embracing and creating their own kind of beautiful.
Slowly but surely, there has been an increase in women with afros in TV, movies, advertisements and so on. As this is something that was not common for younger generations growing up, it further exemplifies just how powerful this movement has become. Furthermore, the presence of social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube have really kept the movement alive. It has become a way for black women to share knowledge amongst the black community, as well as support and encourage one another. In terms of CurlyGalChlo, it is not a surprise to hear that Chloé was told she would have to work twice as her white counterparts in order to get half as far. Black women are also known to be told by white employers that their natural hair is ‘unprofessional’ and ‘messy’. Some of Chloé’s objectives for starting this business were knowing that she could make a difference for the changing next generation, by passing on natural hair knowledge.
“You can make something out of nothing if you’re passionate about it and willing to put the effort in.”
Reflecting on her past year on Instagram, collaborating with other black owned businesses to review and promote natural hair care products, she learnt that even if there are a lack of opportunities, you can still make it your own. The advantage of building her own brand meant that she was in control of the narrative and through maintaining her originality, was able to connect more with the notion of staying true to yourself. Focusing and prioritising on these values has always been and continues to be one of her main goal today. Chloé’s objective for 2018 was to also reach out to other black owned businesses and provide them with as much help as she can. Her reasons for setting out to particularly help black owned businesses was because mainstream businesses tend to focus on what is in and out of trend, whereas in contrast, these smaller businesses are genuinely more passionate therefore will always be around. Her biggest success to date personally is her collaboration with House of DSD’s African print bonnet collection as her constructive criticism was influential in the innovation and development of their final product.
Not only has Chloé become an influencer, she has more importantly become a black business woman. Her choice to manage her business on Instagram instead of blog posting was as a result of the fast-paced momentum of the movement. As an Instagram influencer, she was able to interact more directly and share her knowledge and experiences with other people in the same position. This online presence enabled her to network with more black business women and emphasised how important support in the natural hair and Instagram community.
“No one can do you like you, so many people are doing the same thing I do but not like me.”