From Shanghai Struggles to Textured Hair Empowerment: The Journey of 4ever Curly

Embracing my natural curls

Before boarding my flight to live in Shanghai for a semester, I had packed a suitcase FULL of natural hair care products. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to find any conditioners or creams for my type 4 hair in Shanghai, my new home for 4 months. I understood that, in China, my hair was an oddity and often got stares, so I wished to give the people something nice to look at and take good care of my fro. But despite my planning, I ran out of product and spent my last month in Shanghai with dry, unmanageable hair. I wore a hat every day and felt self-conscious of my curls and coils that I usually wore with pride.

This experience inspired me to curate 4ever Curly, a zero waste hair care brand for textured hair. Whether you were eco-conscious or a wanderlusting traveler, I hoped to support others on their natural hair journey wherever they were in the world. With compact shampoo and conditioner bars for curly, kinky hair, you would never be without the best hair care to keep your coils.

Although my time in Shanghai was challenging, it fueled my determination to make a difference in the world of natural hair care. I hope to return to this passion project one day, expanding 4ever Curly’s reach and providing accessible, sustainable hair care options for everyone. With the lessons learned from my own struggles, I aspire to create a brand with others passionate about natural hair care that celebrates and embraces diverse hair textures, empowering individuals to feel confident and beautiful in their natural state, no matter where their journey takes them.

Visiting Shangrila

August 2018

Five days after landing in Shanghai, we traveled to Zhongdian – better known as Shangri-La since 2002. Thanks to the guidance of our amazing Tibetan tour guide, we were able to indulge in delicious Tibetan cuisine, take part in local dances, and explore the old town of Zhongdian, all at an altitude of 10,000 feet!

Visiting a Tibetan Monastery near Shangrila.

When first arriving in Zhongdian, this high altitude was most apparent. It seemed the sky and the horizon were in much closer proximity than in the Shanghai or Kunming skyline; Pine trees of deep green and lush mountain tops lined the blue sky in stark contrast. But with the air so thin, at our arrival, many of us preferred the relaxing scenery of our hotel rooms to the outdoors. Prior to resting after our long bus ride to Zhongdian, we were greeted in the lobby of the Le Fu Ge Dan Hotel with steaming cups of sweet ginger tea. “It tastes like Christmas!” one of us exclaims, inspiring us to start playing holiday-spirited music while waiting for our room keys.

At last, settled in our respective rooms, we collectively sighed. Having been so busy the last week with back-to-back travel plans, it felt wonderful to rest, even if just for an hour or two. As the sun began to dip below the ever-closer horizon, we prepared ourselves for dinner at a local Tibetan restaurant. A feast including yak’s milk tea, potato pancakes, and yak meat dumplings, everything tasted so foreign yet so delicious! Our meal gave us the energy to traverse Zhongdian’s old town, a winding maze of shops and cafes, restaurants and hotels, while at the center of it all, a swirling mass of people dancing under the darkened sky.

Similar to the local dancing we encountered in Liming, this dancing circle was just as vibrant, just as inviting, and just as difficult to follow! The accompanying music rippled through the crowd, guiding them through a leg crossing, arm waving, graceful choreography that everyone seemed to know except the scattering of foreigners. It seemed we were just as satisfied stepping back to watch the swirling patterns of traditional dress, smiling faces, and stars in the Zhongdian sky.  

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