An entrepreneur since the age of seventeen, Khembe Clarke has been working in the hair industry helping to empower and educate others. Khembe is the founder of the Return To Your Roots Festival which will be held on May 5th and May 6th in Birmingham England.
Read below as Khembe talks about her experiences and beliefs about the Natural Hair industry
Black Hair Ology: How was the Return To Your Roots Festival created and how many years has it been held?
Khembe: The Return To Your Roots Festival is in its fifth year. The very first one was born out of women just having conversations about having a space to talk about hair care, to talk about what they need to do with their natural hair because there was a lack of knowledge.
What colors do I use?
How do I style my hair?
How do I care for my hair?
Many women were kind of recovering from the damage that relaxers had done to their hair.
The idea behind Return To Your Roots is literally to return to the roots, you know, your hair roots and embrace the roots that grow out of your head.
The other aspect was return to your roots, which is your culture, your heritage, return to your roots in terms of natural food because healthy hair isn’t only determined by the type of products you put on your hair, but by the type of food that you eat.
Alongside the resurgence of natural hair is also the growth of natural products that people want to consume and eat, so herbs and things like that. The two really go hand in hand.
Black Hair Ology: Do you think the Natural Hair movement has helped instill more pride in people of African descent?
Khembe: Absolutely! I think so. For me, embracing your natural hair is almost the first step in self-acceptance. It’s almost saying, “This is the way I am. I’m not going to compare myself to anyone else. I don’t want to be anyone else. I’m just going to embrace my God given self.”
It is instilling that sense of pride and women are embracing this all over the world. And what it also does, the more women see other women embracing their natural, they then feel like it gives them permission to embrace who they are so it’s like a real movement that’s taking off around the world.
I wouldn’t say that everybody is deciding to just rock their natural hair because we still have women who might have hair problems or scalp problems or might have alopecia.
Black Hair Ology: How are the younger generation embracing the Natural Hair movement?
Khembe: I notice the younger girls also are beginning to embrace it even more so. Even our national TV here, BBC, ran some feature not too long ago about young girls rocking their natural hair. These girls were like five years and up. They were beginning to feel proud about their hair. I think it’s all about socialization. What we teach our children, what we have been taught ourselves about ourselves, we play out in the way we look and the way we dress.
Blank Panther, has been really, really inspiring as well in terms of how that depicts black people and African people in a positive light. It enables us to feel proud about who we are. All of these different images and betrayals are really excellent in confirming and reaffirming who we are. So yes, I really think there is an increase in our pride.
Black Hair Ology: As an entrepreneur, what is the most important trait you have learned through your experiences?
Khembe: Most important thing for me is to believe in myself, to know that I can do and be whatever I can. That I have an agency. I have the power to do that. That comes from within. That is really important – belief.
Self-belief for me is number one, having confidence to do what you really want to do without asking permission of anyone.
Be sure to check out the Return To Your Roots Festival, coming May 5th and 6th to Birmingham England.