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Influencer Nia The Light Opens Up About ‘The Curl Bar London,’ The UK’s New Safe Space For Women To Feel Empowered

By Rachel George

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Recently, influencer and model Nia Pettitt, also known as Nia the Light or Frogirl Ginny, officially opened the doors to UK’s answer to curly hair empowerment, the Curl Bar London. Dedicated to all things natural hair, the salon offers services such as wash-n-go’s, deep conditioning masques, steam treatments, free color consultations, twist outs, kids cornrows, and low fades for short hair queens.

London
Credit: The Curl Bar London

We caught up with the new salon owner to discuss black hair in London, her Zimbabwean roots, and creating a safe space for women to feel empowered.

The Zimbabwean-born, London-based Youtube star is one of the most recognizable women in the natural hair community and is most known for her signature voluminous fro. On social media, she goes by the moniker Nia the Light, a nickname given to her by her godmother and sister in Zimbabwe. “They were both speaking about my aura, they said I had a light about me and it just clicked,” she said. 

According to Nia, her last trip to Zimbabwe was in 2018. “It was my last trip of the year and I needed it so much,” she tells Travel Noire. “I was exhausted and just wanted to be still. I spent Christmas there with all my family and created the content that sparked joy for me. I always go back every year or two and it’s always so refreshing to portray my country in the way it deserves.”

And when it comes to traveling and maintaining her tresses, Nia says, “I have definitely worked on being less of a product junkie the last two years but I will always have my favorites. Kinky Curly Knot Today is amazing, Skimdo curl cream and the Oribe Gold oil is great for my hair. I tend to put them in travel pots or if brands gift me with some samples then I’ll take those.”

Over the last few months, Nia has stepped away from the spotlight to indulge in her childhood dream of owning a hair salon. She transformed a vintage shop in London into a calming space that represents self-love and embracing your natural hair.

Instagram: @niathelight

“I love my job on social media but I don’t want to be so attached to devices anymore to make an income,” Nia says. “I want to have human interaction and use my gifts to empower people in real life too. I want to live a life that isn’t repetitive and that fulfills all parts of my soul.”

Nia resonated with the 1960s and 1970s natural hair movement when wearing your hair in its natural state was viewed as a direct connection to your African ancestors.

Nia is also the founder of the #happyfroday movement. She tells Travel Noire, “This was part of my school project, we had to create a video about something and I chose to do something centered around natural hair. I knew it would be really challenging to hop on a train or bus and find people in the city so I used the few followers I had at the time to bring people together in Hyde Park in Central London. The images we took went viral and soon I was getting requests from New York and other parts of the world. I was only 16 but I organized it myself. It then grew and each year I did more events in more places. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my career.”

The natural hair movement is more than just about looks, it is about self-love and embracing who you are without getting trapped behind society’s standard of beauty. Nia became fixated on her hair, its beauty, and not allowing what others thought about it affect her peace of mind and mental health. In 2018, she did the big chop for a second time, proving she was more than just her hair.

“The second time was for my soul. I had grown a very unhealthy relationship with my hair and became so dependant on it for beauty,” she shared. “Of course it has already grown back now and frames my face how it used to but I don’t have that attachment to it anymore, I know it’s a part of me but I know I don’t have to feel my best with it.”

The 22-year old CEO opened the doors to The Curl Bar London in January for a soft launch party with sponsorship and gift products from Lancome, Bumble and Bumble,  Tangle Teezer, K Swiss, Smart Water, and more. It was an overwhelming experience, but one that has been in the works since her adolescent years.

“I’ve always wanted to open a curly hair salon since I was 16,” she tells Travel Noire. “I used to do my friend’s hair and they’d tell their friends and then my clientele grew just like that. I would go to college and have my classes then go home to do a client’s hair. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done because I got to see women leave feeling so confident and happy with their new journey. So I wanted to revisit that.”

The Curl Bar London caters to different hair types, textures, braid styles, colors, and various curl patterns. Located in North London’s suburban Crouch End neighborhood. The salon features white and wooden furniture, pink walls painted with love, detangling brushes by celebrity stylist and hair whisperer Felicia Leatherwood and a variety of products from Design Essentials, As I Am and other brands. From curly hair workshops to kids tutorials, no customer will leave unsatisfied, no matter what age. 

“There are so many lovely incentives I have designed to make the experience more than just a hair treatment. It’s a safe space for women to feel empowered and embraced for who they are,” Nia added.

Nia documented her entrepreneurial debut in a video on YouTube titled, “from my living room to owning a salon.” She shares all of her overwhelming moments like deciding on placements for the bathroom sink, decorating, cutting wood with a saw, and more.

As a word of advice to women entrepreneurs and curly-haired women around the world Nia says, “Listen to your body and mind. We are always chasing a dream and wanting to be the best at our jobs or the best mother or daughter but we can’t be that if we don’t sit still and listen to what we need for ourselves.”

For now, Nia the Light is excited for this next chapter in her life as CEO of The Curl Bar London, inspiring other curly-haired women “to feel empowered and embraced for who they are.”

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