Mar 11, 2020
Interviews & inspiration | Daniela Pisciottano
Femie Magazine interviews Anu Obe, founder and CEO of the hair extension company To All My Black Girls. The entrepreneur tells our readers everything about her brand and the importance she attributes to representation in the media for young black women.
CEO of To all my black girls, you founded the company in 2016 after noticing a gap in the hair extensions’ market. Did you already have experience managing a business or was this your first approach to entrepreneurship?
This was my first approach to entrepreneurship as I do not have experience managing a business prior to To All My Black Girls.
Your brand is invested in providing “unique natural kinky hair extensions which are made specifically to blend well with African, Caribbean and mixed hair textures”. How difficult was it to come up with a comprehensive line of hair extensions that would satisfy the needs of women from different ethnic backgrounds?
It was quite simple for me as I saw the gap in the market and then began to build the business around this. There has been an increase in the number of people rocking their natural hair over the last 10 years and so I sought to fill this gap. When I first started, I kept the hair range of textures from 3c-4c and a kinky straight texture and then as time went on I soon realised that I had not yet reached all kinky hair types. I then expanded and included Brazilian curly hair, as there was a wider audience that I had not tapped into yet. The aim is to eventually reach all black women hair types and the journey is very much still in progress for me.
You attribute to the lack of representation a struggle in understanding where you “fit in the world”; what do you think should happen within bigger companies in order to stop young girls from feeling like they don’t fit in?
I feel as though bigger companies need to have more ethnic minorities in higher positions. The more that we see ourselves represented in other companies, the less racism there will be. Giving them higher positions, for example, CEOs and managing directors will allow us to see back people in particular, in a more positive light. We need to see more black people as leaders, particularly in the workplace and mainstream media as not only will their power and influence positively affect our society, it will mirror the way young girls see themselves.
You are determined to guide and empower women of colour. How important do you think representation in the media is for young black girls?
As previously mentioned above, I think it is very important as we are widely influenced by social media every single day. Young girls need to see themselves more in the media to feel like they belong in society. This will help them in building their self-esteem and allow them to gain a greater sense of empowerment.
One of the key values of To all my black girls is to keep things real. You are invested in giving women honest and relatable advice, so what advice would you give your younger self?
I would say to my younger self that, it doesn't matter if you don't fit in in this world, it is okay to be yourself and to be different. Continue to live life being who you are and everything will work out. I wish I cared less about what people thought when I was younger.
Your goal with the company is to “use your voice to inspire others”. Who is the person who has most inspired you to become the woman you are today?
I’d say mainly myself. I’ve always had an innate hunger inside of me to help people around me and my community and as I got older, I realised it was my duty to make my mark in this world through empowering the Black community. I think seeing black people suffer through racism and lack of opportunity has also been a major driving factor. I would not say a specific person has inspired me, however, my parents gave me the confidence to be myself and allowed me to explore my individuality throughout my childhood which gave me the courage to start my own business. I am also a spiritual person and believe prayer and meditation have helped me keep in line with my calling.