Ms. Aqueelah Frett, a Senior Administrative Officer/Personal Assistant to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Government of the Virgin Islands, was looking forward to her December 10, 2017 birthday. That day she had planned to take the big step and launch her business, Afrotherapy—a Natural Hair Care and Lifestyle Boutique. But Hurricane Irma derailed those plans until 2018.
“Despite all the devastation we were facing in the Territory, I still pressed on and took a leap of faith by participating in the Natural Hair Expo hosted by Hairstylist Ms. Jenise Mills in June 2018. This was my very first time exhibiting my business,” said Aqueelah who was being showcased at the 2019 Christmas on DeCastro Street. “I did not participate (in Christmas on DeCastro Street) in 2018 but I reached out to the City Manager, Mrs. Janice Bratwaithe-Edwards during Festival to seek permission to utilize the space adjacent from Bobby’s Supermarket parking lot to promote my products. When she saw what I was offering, she offered to feature Afrotherapy on Christmas on DeCastro Street. The City Manager mentioned that they had identified some businesses that they decided not to charge so that they could come out and promote their wares.
She noted that Afrotherapy was one of those businesses. “We have noticed that once we do that, people get a jumpstart on their businesses and that is important for us, a lot of people that have businesses in the city of Road Town got a jumpstart at either Christmas on Main Street or DeCastro Street” she said. According to Aqueelah, the response from the community has been positive. The feedback and support from the public is exciting and they are receiving the business well.” Aqueelah also noted that there is a natural hair movement in progress in the BVI and everyone is trying to develop a healthier approach towards their haircare that is what Afrotherapy is about.”
Afrotherapy is a Caribbean inspired Natural Hair Care and Lifestyle Boutique that seeks to provide its clients with luxurious, organic, plant-based hair care products that promote vibrant healthy hair and scalp. The business carries a variety of authentic handcrafted hair care products such as shampoos, conditioners, deep conditioners, moisturizers, hair loss and restorative treatments. Its offerings also include natural hair oils and butters, natural hair colours, styling products, hair accessories and hair vitamins from some of the most popular hair care brands throughout the world. Some brands carried in Afrotherapy are Tropikalbliss, Curls Dynasty, Soultanicals, Inahsi Naturals, Alikay Naturals, to name a few. “All products are infused with rich ingredients that nourish and protects the scalp in the most natural way,” the young entrepreneur said.
Afrotherapy was born from Aqueelah’s personal experience. Her hair, would be classified according to the Andre Walker Hair Typing System as Type 4 Kinky Hair specifically 4b Hair Type (a tightly coiled to Z-angled coils), but due to her mom’s lack of knowledge about caring for that specific hair type and out of frustration, she cut it all off when she was between eight and nine years old. She further explained that “4b hair is a delicate hair texture with the propensity to drying out, and tendency to shrinkage, which requires some very special tender loving care to maintain its health.”
“I developed this self-consciousness about my hair and felt that my hair appearance was not accepted. My entire family on my mother’s side has naturally thick, silky straight or curly hair type, which was considered to be good hair.” From that tender age and throughout high school, I always wore braids and during my early adult years, hair extensions which I dearly love,” she reflected. “Due to constant over styling and chemical treatments, my hair became damaged and I wouldn’t show my natural hair because I felt that my hair type did not meet my pre-conceived beauty standard and that sparked my interest in hair care.”
Aqueelah, who grew up on Virgin Gorda, said she spent countless hours in Licensed Cosmetologist Mrs. Leila Stevens’ Salon ‘Hair Creations’ and grew up there observing what she was doing. She often wondered why some people would have long flowing healthy hair while others had short, damaged hair. She realized that it was their styling choices. “Basically, it created something in my mind and as a child, I always aspired to have lustrous beautiful healthy hair,” she stated. “Based on research and my experience with my hair, I discovered that my mother and most people did not really understand how to care for natural hair and that is the reason why she was frustrated. She cut off all my hair because she did not know how to take care of that hair type, texture and what products would work best. So that is how it all started. This experience is what is driving me with this business I am doing today.”
Aqueelah said, “whether your hair is relaxed or natural, our goal is to promote healthy hair,” “That is my main goal and I think a lot of people are becoming more health-conscious, taking care of their bodies so I think they will adapt to this movement.” “Haircare is my passion, it has always been something I love and I love to see people with their hair well-groomed at all times.” “If I can help people to be able to find the right products that are suitable for their hair, it would bring joy to my heart.” We believe in Ayurvedic Hair Care, a natural and holistic approach to healthy hair. The health of the hair begins with the food we eat, nutrition, exercise, proper management and care as well as the use of quality products. Our products are paraben, sulfate, phosphate, silicone, and chemical and toxin-free made with eco-certified ingredients which are natural, safe and cruelty-free. Afrotherapy’s Hairaffirmation is ‘I lovingly groom my hair and choose the thoughts that supports its growth & strength. I love and appreciate my beautiful hair!’
Aqueelah, who is currently working on her Trichology Certification which is the study of the hair and scalp—said the movement towards natural hair care and developing healthy hair resonates with Afrotherapy.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Afrotherapy (Natural Hair Care and Lifestyle Boutique) has opened its doors with a retail storefront located in Hope Hill, Tortola. Afrotherapy provides hair care consultations and customized hair products recommendations for women, men and children of all hair types/textures. Afrotherapy can be found on social media (Facebook and Instagram) at Afrotherapy Hair Company at Afrotherapyhairco or contacting by telephone on (284) 346-4853 or email at Afrotherapyhair@gmail.com.