Have you seen the pictures/memes on social media of the Black pool party where everyone is standing around the pool rather than in it? Or the iconic Black movie line where a woman goes to the pool with a man only to then confidently say that she can’t get in the pool because she doesn’t want to get her hair wet?
While many people mock and laugh at the irony of these situations, swimming does pose a real-life problem for Black people, especially Black women.
Black women’s hair is characteristically more voluminous than other hair, and this natural attribute becomes a hindrance to swimming when swimming caps on the market do not cover our full crown. Not being able to cover one’s hair often means more time and energy to manage and care for wet, and at times, chemically damaged hair. As such, the inability to cover our hair has often kept many from swimming for health, fitness, and/or respite, although swimming has been scientifically proven to have tremendous physical and psychological benefits.
Meet Treffers, the South African woman who has taken on the mantle of solving this problem by designing and selling her own swimming and shower caps for dreadlocks, braids, weaves, long and high volume hairstyles. The caps are made of waterproof silicon, and range from AfroRegular to AfroLarge, with sizes for AfroKids and AfroTots.
According to an interview with South African platform Zefricanews, Nomvuyo Treffers, a mother with dreadlocks and two girls with voluminous curls came to the idea out of “personal frustration of not having a swimming cap that fits over my hair. To an extent the same applied to my daughters – the swimming caps that my daughters previously used were small and often very uncomfortable. There was a lot of pulling and stretching over their high volumed hair. My daughters love swimming and most of the time they would invite me to swim with them. I would at times agree and deal with the long process of having to dry my hair later. Because of this, I would prefer to mostly sit on the sidelines.”
A photographer, Treffers first designed Swimma for her family and tweeted about it. The overwhelming response led her to set up an online shop in August 2016. First based in South Africa, Swimma is now sold in Britain, Kenya, and Mozambique and can be shipped around the world through her online store.
Treffers adds, ” I know it is black people who have the problems of not finding a cap that fits and for whom wet hair is a bigger problem, but we have had many requests across the colour lines for caps that are simply more comfortable.”
Treffers is proof that whatever business solutions that work for Black people are likely to serve others as well.
Check out pictures of her caps below: