Niwa Kapumbu is a New York citizen with Congolese parents. She grew up in France, where her mother immigrated in the 80s. As a child, she spent many summer vacations in Kinshasa DR Congo where she was fascinated with the culture and watching pre-teen girls create intricate hairstyles on their younger sisters. In France, her mother owned two beauty supplies shops where she would help women with hair and skin concerns.

Once she graduated from high school, she moved to New York to pursue her education and obtain her B.S. in Advertising and Marketing Communications. While in the U.S., she could not help but feel better about being black. She felt like there was more information and products available to her ethnicity than in Europe. Years later, as she started a family, she realized that even though specific products were available for black women, being a mother had its own challenges when it came to hair.

She first had to make sure child care was in place. Then she would deal with different kind of unprofessionalism often found in salons. She would spend hours and hours waiting in an unfriendly environment. However, the detail that hurt her the most was the lack of knowledge and true care for ethnic hair, even in ethnic salons themselves. Her own need for quality, convenience, and professionalism turned into a business idea.

In 2014, as a single mother of three, Niwa decided to attend Empire Beauty School and obtain her cosmetology license. She was well aware of the current trend of more and more women caring for their natural hair with protective styles as opposed to relying on chemical processing. She saw an opportunity for a braiding service. She came to realize that the cultural difference between the clients and the braiders who were mostly Africans did not come from a lack of care, but more so a lack of knowledge. She knew that her unique African, French, and American background gave her an edge to communicate, educate, and team-up with la crème de la crème of hair braiders in the industry.

This year, 2016, she decided to launch Niwa K. Express Braiding to respond to the need of many active women with ethnic hair. Although coiled hair styles tend to be very tedious, in our day and age many of them can be done by watching tutorials. Unfortunately, most of these techniques take time and frustration to learn before you succeed and, “Time is a terrible thing to waste!” Niwa K.’s mission is to make women’s lives easier by providing an innovative service to achieve desired styles faster and better in the comfort of their own homes.