Curl Check It and Made by Philo

By Sinead Johnson-Oluwayose

What do you study at Loughborough and what year are you in? 

I study BSc Psychology and I am in my final year of university.

Tell us about your businesses 

I run a travelling hairdressing business for people with curly or coily hair called Curl Check It. I do a range of protective hairstyles ensuring (student) affordability, minimum tension, and high quality.  

My other business is called Made by Philo; a blog that I started about neurodiversity which I hope to turn into a coaching business. I write blogs with the aim of empowering people to accept their neurological differences. The blog is in the tagline: "Learn to Love, Love to Learn". 

How did you start out with your business ventures? 

I started learning how to do my hair when I started my A-Levels or "Leaving Certificate" as we call it in Ireland. I have thin/fine hair and it was only when I started to do my hair myself, that I saw growth and my hair thickening. A lot of hairdressers I went to gave me high tension hairstyles and did not try to work with my hair, they worked against it. I have gotten a lot better at doing hair but more importantly, my hair is thriving! I love doing other people's hair because I get to teach them about their hair as I work with it (Hence my business is called 'Curl Check It') and I get to interact with a range of interesting people. 

With Made by Philo, I started blogging after going to a couple of neurodiversity panels and leaving those panels feeling sorry for myself. It is hard to advocate for neurodiversity, especially when people often see you as incoherent or pitiful, not to mention the high comorbidity for mental health disorders and neurodiversity. People who become advocates often go from empowerment to trying to get basic rights and representation, which makes them emphasise the negatives and can often be a reminder of their flaws. I was determined to change the narrative for neurodiversity through my blog on my lived experience of ADHD, Dyslexia, and Dyspraxia. I focus on the social model of disability, highlighting the weaknesses and the strengths in ways to help people value their neurodiversity.  

What inspires you?
For my hair business, I am inspired by my cousin who initially looked at her thick, beautiful 4C hair and wished it looked like Kim Kardashian's hair. With time (and several hairstyles later), she is much more confident with wearing her natural curls and no longer believes her hair doesn't grow. I want to make protective styles look amazing while also protecting and enhancing the hair underneath.  

I am inspired by my grandmother for my neurodiversity blog. When I got diagnosed in my second year of university, she was the first person I told. She was so happy for me (after I explained what Dyslexia was and why it was helpful for me to know) and she celebrated with me. Most people I told were either saddened or pitied me, but she celebrated. My grandma was the person who taught me how to unconditionally accept myself and she gave me the closest thing to agape love. She died a few months after I told her, but she was the inspiration for the name of my blog. 
Is championing Black-owned businesses important to you and if so, why? 
Championing Black businesses is important to me because I know so many people who wanted to start a business but felt limited by their race. Their name sounded funny, they didn't have people to network with, they didn't believe that black people could make it - most of the major businesses in the world are not Black-owned. When we champion Black-owned businesses, we champion hope for those people.  
What advice would you give people who want to start a business but are unsure? 
First of all, tell the people around you that you trust about it. Do a lot of research into the market but also with yourself and your motivations behind the business. Talk to people you see in the area you want to go in, and talk to other black business owners (like me!).  
Where can people buy/use your product/service? 

For hair, email me at Curlcheckit@gmail.com. For my blog, the website is www.madebyphilo.co.uk

Where can people follow you? 

For my blog, my Instagram is @MadebyPhilo. For my hairdressing, check out @Curlcheckit.