004 The Toks Philes
As Black Women, we know the struggle of finding hair products in Australia... In stepped Saint Curl! Saint Curl is a WoC owned online store based in Australia who are making wash day easier for those with wavy, curly and kinky hair.
We met up with Toks, one half of Saint Curl at her home in Pyrmont where she took us behind the scenes at Saint Curl, lifting the lid on running a start-up and navigating life as an ambitious black millennial woman in Australia.
Tell us about your business, what has the journey been like?
I’m a co-founder of Saint Curl, a Sydney-based online hair care retailer specialising in products for textured hair.
Ramza and I started the Saint Curl as a blog in February 2017, and the store has been running since November 2017. Before starting, neither of us knew anything about the hair care, business, marketing, or web design, but to make it work we’ve had to figure so much out on our own. In the past year I’ve probably learned more than I did in 8 years of university.
The response to Saint Curl so far has been absolutely incredible. With the support we’ve received from friends, family and our wonderful curly community, we’ve been able to create something that resonates with women and men of colour around Australia.
Describe your typical weekend…
I work full-time in addition to Saint Curl, so to be honest the days of the week don’t mean too much to me right now. A Sunday might be busier than a Monday.
My ideal weekend would include walking my Cavoodle, Charlie, catching up with friends, dancing and/or binge watching Netflix.
Who inspires your hair styling choices?
Issa Rae is natural hair #goals for me - she always has really beautiful and interesting updos going on, which I would definitely do if I had a stylist.
I’ve been doing my own hair for the past few years so I generally rotate between twists, braids, crochet styles or the Old Faithful Puff. But I’ve been trying to be more adventurous lately, and I currently have some Beyoncé inspired ombré twists.
How do you navigate culture and tradition while living in Australia?
The Australian-African diaspora is a uniquely difficult culture to navigate. Relative to other diaspora cultures we haven’t been here that long, so I find that people tend to borrow from the Black American experience, not only as a way for people within the community express their blackness, but also how others choose to perceive our community.
My family is Nigerian, and I grew up in South Africa before we moved to Australia when I was 9. I definitely used to struggle to reconcile my personality and cultural heritage with what people expect a black woman to look and act like. As I’ve grown older I’ve found that the stronger my sense of self, the easier it is to navigate a bicultural identity.
Black womanhood is…
Constant duality: it is being both vigilant and vulnerable, scrutinised yet unseen, glorified and vilified, all while taking over the world.
What does a day at Saint Curl look like for you? Give us a little peek behind the scenes!
I usually start the day by checking and responding to emails and messages that have come in overnight from customers or contacts overseas. After that I plan the socials across Instagram and Facebook before or while commuting to work. The rest of the day is juggling between my day job and Saint Curl. Ramza and I are in constant contact throughout the day, putting out fires, responding to customers, and suppliers.
After work it’s a bit more of the same - site updates, and emails. I hate to shatter the illusion, but startup life is not that glamorous.
What is your hair regime and your must have hair products?
My hair is extremely coily so my regime centres around keeping her hydrated. I shampoo once a week, typically on the weekend so I have time to do a deep condition. During the week I use a Shea-based leave in conditioner and and oil mix to seal the ends. Right now I’m testing out an exciting new product for Afro hair that’s coming to Saint Curl very soon.
Where is your happy place?
Physically, either my bed or a dance floor, depending on the day. My mental happy place is a good, long book.
What are 5 things you are loving right now?
Fenty - Rihanna has truly revolutionised my make up game
I just finished Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston - it’s an incredible read
Jim + Henry hair products
How do you maintain friendships as an adult?
This is honestly one of the most difficult aspects of being an adult for me. Living on campus in high school and uni, I was lucky enough to have some of my best friends right next door, but that also made me a lazy communicator. It has taken me way too long to realise that consistent communication is the key to any good relationship.