Kuorkor set up a natural hair salon to provide quality hair care for females living in Accra and then provide employment for women who have lived in harsh situations; empowering them to achieve their potential.
Kuorkor Dzani grew up in Accra, Ghana and went to the United States at 16 years old as an undergraduate to study at Bryn Mawr College in Philadephia. During her time in the United States she found her love for her own natural hair; as the natural hair movement was beginning to grow, mainly on blogs and web forums.
In 2007, she came back to Accra with short hair, coloured bright orange! She was not afraid to experiment with her own hair! She began working, but was unable to find salons who could care for her hair to her satisfaction.
The established salons would want to perm her hair to make it straight and what they deemed to be more manageable. There were local ‘kiosk salons’ who were more willing to simply braid or cornrow her hair, but she found that the consistency in standards was lacking. Kuorkor Dzani also found there to be a knowledge gap, and a high turnover of staff in many places.
As time went by, Kuorkor began regularly getting together with a group of good friends - all who wanted to start businesses. They encouraged one another and held each other accountable for their goals. This was the birthplace of Kuorkor’s vision for a natural hair salon in Ghana. She noticed an increase in returnee clientele. A number of them also had natural hair and faced the same struggles she did with finding a suitable hair salon.
In September 2009, Kuorkor opened her first Twist and Locs Salon in Nyaniba Estate, Osu, Accra. She was surprised at how many people came to the salon when it opened its doors!
There was more demand than she had expected. The business grew quickly and she was busy, juggling her job in finance along with managing her new salon. All the experiences during that time, both good and bad, shaped her and provided feedback for her to continue to develop her growing venture. She quickly realized what measures she needed to put in place to cater well for her clients.
Over the past 14 years, Kuorkor has gone on to develop her brand and now has reputable salons in Osu, East Legon, and Spintex. She also wants to expand further into two more locations.
I asked Kuorkor how she began embracing girls coming through Future of Africa. She said, “People don’t realize it, but most girls I employ are from difficult backgrounds.” She went on to explain that many girls come from arduous personal situations, such as domestic violence, poverty, poor education, abuse and more. With this in mind, Kuorkor has always had girls from such backgrounds come and work with her.
Kuorkor realized that the more she interacted with them, the more she understood them, and had her perceptions challenged by them. She noted, “If you don’t interact with people of these backgrounds, you may see Ghana one way, but when you start working with people from diverse backgrounds, you gain a whole new perspective.”
Kuorkor’s relationship with Future of Africa (FoA) began in 2021 when she met TK at church. She had already seen FoA online and done some research into the work they were doing. Twist and Locs was looking for an NGO of interest to support, and FoA seemed to fit this very well.
Having a skill means they are less vulnerable, because they have a means of making money. They are not trapped without a way out.
Around this time, a girl named Rebecca (read Rebecca’s story here) was graduating from school as a hairdresser, through FoA. Twist and Locs was a perfect fit for Rebecca’s first job, and it was close to her home at Norviwo Community Centre with FoA. Many of the girls working in the salon connected with Rebecca, as some had similar backgrounds to her. Navigating the new work environment was challenging at times for Rebecca, so Kuorkor asked some of the older girls in particular to support her. Kuorkor encourages an environment of teaching and nurturing. Over time, Rebecca has grown, learned, matured and developed within this supportive team. At the last Annual Team Meeting, Rebecca was commended as being the most consistent staff member: always willing and ready to work. She received a standing ovation from her colleagues. “She has blossomed,” Kuorkor beamed, “She is so much more confident now. We are proud of her.”
“It is very rewarding for a girl to learn a skill that can have an immediate visible impact,” Kuorkor went on to explain. “It is amazing to be able to create a hair style for someone that they truly appreciate – that’s exciting! Joy and reward are a big part of being a ‘maker’. Human beings all have that within them in different ways.”
Kuorkor’s vision for her work is as much about the people she works with as it is the success of her brand. She strives to create an atmosphere in her salons where each person feels respected and valued. It matters to Kuorkor that each person’s voice is heard. Over time, Kuorkor has seen the positive, tangible impact this kind of nurturing environment can have.
Kuorkor went on to tell a story of one of her staff who was enduring terrible intimate partner violence at home. The girls at work supported her and encouraged her. Due to her stable job and the support of her colleagues, she was eventually able to leave her abusive partner. “Having a skill means they are less vulnerable, because they have a means of making money. They are not trapped without a way out.” Kuorkor noted.
Kuorkor’s vision for the future would be to have her own centre to give people from the streets a skill – to house and nurture them.
“There is something beautiful and special about women working together for a common goal. When I meet these girls for the first time, they don’t know much and are not confident, but then I watch them grow! …. You can’t replace that! They know my heart. This is THEIR business. I have a job and a career. This is for them. They know this and it gives them ownership and a sense of purpose. “
After the interview, Julianna, the Assistant Manager, came to sit with us. She has been with Twists and Locs for over 10 years. I asked her what she loves about working for Twists and Locs. “The teamwork,” she said, smiling from ear to ear, “We support each other. We are a family. We all love our Madam. She cares for us. This is our family.”
Written by Becci Tamaklo
There is something beautiful and special about women working together for a common goal. When I meet these girls for the first time and they don’t know anything, then I watch them grow…. You can’t replace that! They know my heart. This is THEIR business... They know this and it gives them ownership and empowerment.