Sunday Express: Her Magazine
Natural Babe/ Nikitha Cornwall : Celebrity Hair maven
Written by: Kimberly Wallace
MODERN-DAY renaissance woman Nikitha Cornwall is changing the way we all view art. In the eyes of this versatile entrepreneur and founder of Natural Babe, the human body is a canvas and everything from our hair to the clothing and jewelry we wear are “wearable art”.
Her company Natural Babe not only offers clients faux locs, natural hair, bespoke wigs, clip ins, curly to kinky hair extensions and ponytails, it’s also a marketplace where one can discover black owned brands. Since its inception, Natural Babe’s hair has become a major hit among those desiring to connect with their African roots and embrace their ancestry.
Nikitha has caught the attention of fashion magazines such as Essence and La Mode and has collaborated with photographers, artists and creative influencers. Among her celebrity clients are actress, dancer and singer Teyana Taylor, actress Tia Mowry (known for Sister Sister role with twin sister Tamera), Nathalie Emmanuel of Game of Thrones, Musical Genius Erykah Badu and British Singer Leighanne Pinnock.
“Erykah’s image, her spirituality, her freedom, and expression of self is an embodiment of what my hair brand represents, I always tell people that I manifested Erykah Badu into my life”, says the entrepreneur.
Nikitha’s talent and passion for hair transported her from Trinidad and Tobago to the US where she travelled the length and breadth of North America. She also visited 30 European cities and was about to travel to India when the pandemic sidelined her plans. For the time being, she’s living and working in the UK.
Natural Babe has grown by leaps and bounds since Nikitha set up her website and began selling her own products back in 2019. Women have increasingly become less encumbered by societal norms and are more eager to embrace natural hair. That instinctive desire for freedom and liberation that most of her clients are searching for, was what initially led Nikitha on the path she is on now.
Nikitha has been doing hair for ten years. While living in Trinidad she was focused on regular styles and blowouts, but a few years ago she went through traumatic events, one after the other the next, which altered the course of her life. She not only lost her grandparents but was in a physically, emotionally and mentally abusive relationship. As if those two experiences weren’t bad enough, nude pictures of Nikitha were leaked online and made its rounds throughout T&T.
“I was experiencing a lot of trauma all at once. I felt that for my health and sanity I needed to change my life and regain my strength and personal power, and of the ways of doing that was embarking upon my natural hair journey which was for me very transformative,” says Nikitha. “All my life people told me that my hair was hard, difficult to manage. Growing up, I felt my hair was nappy and picky because that was what was being fed to me.”
The trauma she endured in just a matter of months took away some of Nikitha’s self-worth and self-confidence, but it was also the beginning of her renaissance, or re-birth. Nikitha cut off all her hair and set off on her natural hair journey. At that point in her life, she had no intention of becoming a natural hair stylist, rather it was something she did for herself.
“I wanted to learn to love my natural hair as well, it was a sense of freedom and liberation for me to be able to stand up for who I was at the moment especially after going through things that tested my self-worth. It was a major rebirth,” she says.
Nikitha decided to install faux locs in her hair - something she had never done before. She saw it as an opportunity to express the depth of her personality . It was also an act of defiance - albeit in a good way. The hairstylist didn't achieve the look she was going for so Nikitha installed the faux locs herself, which she later debuted on Instagram. The photo went viral; all of the major hair magazines reposted it and within a month, Nikitha’s Instagram followers increased by thousands.
In just a matter of days, Nikitha found herself besieged by a swarm of women who wanted the same look. Even though she was a professional hairstylist, she doubted whether she could really take on the task. After one emotionally charged night, Nikitha knelt on the floor and prayed.
“I said: God, universe, whoever you are, reveal to me my path and I will follow. I surrender to the magical future that awaits me,” she recalls.
Nikitha who is a firm believer in affirmations, repeated those words like mantra. A week later, she posted on Instagram that she was taking appointments for those wanting faux locs and within a couple of days, she has hundreds of e-mails in her inbox from women who were willing to fly out to meet with her.
“The women connected with my struggles, my sense and need for freedom. When they came to me and sat in my chair, I realised they were on a similar life journey; they were all enduring certain things that they felt they needed liberation from. I realised that what I was doing went far beyond just doing locs, it was about glorifying natural hair and promoting love and passion for it.”
“Meeting with those women revealed to me my path. It was not only about my own liberation but the liberation of an entire race, a liberation of black women and women of colour all over the world, so they could love themselves and show up for themselves and love their natural hair and feel happy and proud with it.”
Nikitha has been doing faux locs for her clients since 2016, she also spent a great deal of time working with hair companies, helping them develop natural textures. In December 2019, she launched her first product and the Natural Babe website. Her business has grown exponentially; last month, her sales doubled. With Natural Babe, women can achieve Afro-twist or faux locs on their own.
“Now that many are working from home and don’t have to adhere to slicking their hair back in one, a lot of women are finally getting the chase to express themselves through their hair and connect with our ancestral energies. All of these hairstyles originated from African culture and date back hundreds of years,” says Nikitha, who also uploads tutorials to demonstrate how to install wigs and extensions.
Nikitha’s natural hair journey also helped her find her spiritual path. When things get back to some normalcy, she plans to meet with hairdressers and teach them about the connection between the “crown chakra” and doing someone’s hair.
“When a hairdresser comes within someone’s space, it’s called their immediate biofield where their aura vibrates. As a hairdresser, when I step within a person’s biofield, I have access to someone’s energy source that way, I have to be careful about the energy that I emit. I intend to teach people to be mindful about emitting positive energy while guarding their own energy as well.”
Nikitha is a woman of many talents; while her main focus is hair and running a successful business, she has also created a marketplace on her website where other like-minded women and black entrepreneurs can promote their small businesses. Having had the opportunity to engage with performing artists like Erykah Badu and Teyana Taylor and benefit from their platform, Nikitha wants to pay it forward and empower other women.
One of Nikitha’s most immediate goals is getting Natural Babe hair featured in television shows and films in the UK. She also hopes to launch her very own Natural Babe flagship store in Trinidad, but her future goals go beyond expanding her business. Nikitha wants to use her voice and life experiences to help other young women who have been victims of leaked private photos and revenge porn.
“A lot of women and teenagers have to deal with this, and they feel like it’s the end of the world and it really destroys them. It almost destroyed me, I was distressed at that time because I had no one to talk to and I think that a lot of issues like this are underrated in Trinidad.”
Like a phoenix that has risen from ashes, Nikitha has emerged from the ashes of previous traumas. As a black entrepreneur with a successful brand, she feels a great sense of pride knowing that she has been able to thrive in her own skin and connect with other women who are on a similar journey.
“It has been one of the most challenging journeys, but it’s a very beautiful journey as well because I’m able to help empower young black women and teach them to love their hair. I definitely think that we’re living in a time where the power and love for our people is on the rise, it’s coming back to where it needs to be. We’re in an empowerment phase right now and I am blessed to be on this journey.
“It’s very important to have representation, when we see images of successful black-owned companies, it empowers the younger generations so that they know and believe that they can do it as well.”