Growing up on the Cape Flats, one of Chantal de Kock’s biggest insecurities was her hair. Years of effort and frustration in trying to ‘tame’ her hair led her to accept and embrace her natural locks, and also co-found Rockin Naturals, a fast-growing business dedicated to treating, nurturing and celebrating natural hair in all its glory. She reflects on her journey to peace of mind and business success:
Hair!!! It wasn’t straight enough, sleek enough or long enough. Family and friends made sure I knew about these flaws and were quick to point out when it wasn’t “enough”. I missed out on many experiences because of the insecurities that grew on my head. Having gained perspective, these experiences that seem a lifetime ago have shaped both my sense of self and my business pursuits.
It was only in my late twenties that I realised I was “enough” and that my hair was beautiful just as it is. Finally, I understood that my hair does not define me. It simply states the obvious things about me, namely that I am comfortable in my skin; I am confidant; I know who I am; and, most importantly, I have bigger fish to fry!
In response to the critiques towards my hair, I straightened, colored, permed, cut and did just about everything I could to hide what I had. Eventually, I didn’t recognise myself and didn’t know who I really was. I knew I had to make a change and begin again.
There’s something amazing that happens to a woman when she shaves her head. It’s difficult to explain but you literally shave away the lack of confidence, poor self-esteem, and skewed image of beauty. You are left with you. Slowly I found myself as my real hair grew back, inch by slow inch. I loved what I saw and so did others.
Today, I am a mother. You would think I would be blessed with two girls in order to instill all the values and lessons I learned, but I have two boys and the hair story has only just begun.
Storm is seven, and the perfect gentleman. This old soul posses a head of sleek curls. Phoenix, just one, is a temperamental warrior with tight springy coils. Inevitably, Phoenix’s hair often becomes a point of discussion among my colored friends and family. I hear the usual comments: “Ag shame… What happened to his hair?” and “It’s because of your ‘natural nonsense’ that his hair is like this!” And then there’s my favorite, “At least his smile makes up for the hair…”
I smile and wave. You see, I am their mother and it’s my privilege to shape the minds of these two future boyfriends, lovers, husbands and fathers of our nation. They will grow up knowing that all natural hair is beautiful. They will respect, appreciate, adore and love women no matter their hair type or texture. Perhaps I will be that monster-in-law interrogating every girl they bring home. But it will not be because of the color of their skin or the texture of their hair.
My own journey has led me to exciting and interesting entrepreneurial challenges because of the passion that I now wish to instil in my children — to use what you have, be proud of your heritage, and always keep an eye open for opportunity. You never know from where it will come! These are the fish that will meet my fryer.
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Chantal is a qualified SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) Assessor and highly experienced and skilled programme manager. She has extensive exposure in the development sector, having previously worked at prominent Cape-based NGO Ikamva Labantu. Chantal manages the SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme and the#JustAddGreen programme, and is responsible for its overall operations and functioning of both.