Finally! We have large sleep caps that fit the fro!

I’m so excited to announce that our store, Africa Sleeps, now has huge sleep caps! These amazing caps have a series of elastics inside that ruche the fabric, and provide an enormous amount of headroom for extensions, puffs and even big gorgeous fros!

photo 1

I’ve ordered just 100 as a trial, and they are already selling like bananas this morning. If you are interested in finding a cap for your child that stays on, looks fab, and fits free hair, check it out!

Thanks so much for supporting our family business!


Africa Sleeps: Tub Time Challenge! Win conditioner and curl definition

I admit, sometimes I just don’t have two or three hours to set aside and do my daughter’s hair! So we have perfected the art of the super quick style done while my girls lay in the bathtub. That’s right… Fifteen minutes, that’s all I get!

This is one super quick style we did last week. I just picked her hair out with Sweet Orange Cardamom Moisturizing Conditioner, cornrowed big sections of her hair and pulled them back into a puff. A little Mixed Citrus Curl Definition tapped into her curls to finish, and voila! Simple, but super cute.

I would love to see some of your super quick styles… Please feel post your pics on our Facebook page! Let’s show the world what we can do with 15 minutes!

The best picture posted before October 31, 2013, gets 4oz bottles of the two products I mentioned above. How about them oranges?


Ethiopianness, Africannness and Blackness in Canada

A mom from the US posted this article on one of the Facebook groups I belong to, written by Kuukua Yomekpe about the invisible cloak of “Blackness” that people with dark skin or African heritage wear in the USA.

That was very very interesting and me ponder over my morning espresso. I wonder what journey my daughters will go through? I’ve thought about this topic many times before, about how we frame our daughters’ identities, since we have such a huge influence on them while they are still young. But what I haven’t thought about is rejecting or embracing the cloak that others see them wearing. I also wonder what that cloak looks like in Canada… We have such a different history, different demographics, etc. But then again, we share in much of the US media, so?…

When talking with the girls or about them (kids get just as much from overhearing conversations as they do discussions they are involved in…) we emphasize their Ethiopian-ness, but rarely African-ness, because I don’t want their identity generalized. Also, because Ethiopians don’t think of themselves as African… Not really. Now sometimes, there is a bit of cultural snobbery associated with this, but mostly it’s because Ethiopia has been a country for so long and has developed very distinct food, cultural practices, etc. distinct from its continental neighbours. I’m not saying this cultural assumption is right or wrong… But I still don’t want my kids’ Ethiopian culture lost in general Africanness.

We live in Canada, so certainly they’d aren’t African American… The Martin Luther King civil rights movement, the history of slavery, a Black president, etc. in the US has nothing to do with their heritage, and very little to do with any African Canadians in Western Canada. Yes of course, I know about the Underground Railroad and Canada’s slave history. But demographically and historically, that’s not part of the general Western Canadian African heritage.

Not to say that we are oblivious to the history of slaves, the railroad, and the African American experience. One of my daughters is named after a human rights activist at the time of Martin Luther King; we tell her context and story, and have books on these topics that we discuss. We want them to know about current culture and history too. But again, it’s not our daughters’ story. It’s not their heritage narrative.

All this said, “Blackness” is a narrative, a cloak, we see over and over again in (mostly US) media, and it will be a lens many peole will see my daughters through. Yomekpe writes about those “properties” of the cloak (jail, slavery, teenage mother, etc” that people often associate with Blackness in the USA. I am interested in is bridging her experience with this cloak to the Canadian experience with this cloak. We have different assumptions, or “cloak properties” (just borrowing her terms here) in Canada. We have different history, demographics, media, laws, etc.

I’ve talked to my Ethiopian friends and other African acquaintances about this several times, and I know the cloak is quite a bit different in Canada. It exists! of course. But I don’t know if I could articulate it. I think maybe I’ll frame it as this and ask friends as the occasion arrises in the weeks to some… “What does the cloak of Blackness look like in Canada? What are the properties of the cloak?”

But back to my daughters. They are Ethiopian (heritage,) African (geographical,) and Black (race.) I know what we emphasize now, but as they grow, will they reject the cloak of Blackness, because the “cloak properties” aren’t their heritage or story? Or maybe the Canadian cloak IS part of their narrative or heritage? Or will they claim it, because it becomes part of their experience, and they want to be empowered in the context many people see them in? I guess we’ll just have to see.

PS: the picture above is one I found on my ipad one day, after the above mentioned daughter got a hold of it. Little mischief maker…

Spring Has Sprung!

We just got a huge batch of sleep caps in.. check out these gorgeous floral styles and more! Please check it out!

If you are new to this blog or Africa Sleeps, here’s a little about our store:

  1. Sleep caps are your best tool to keep braids fresh and hair untangled when you little one sleeps.
  2. Our sleep caps store is our adoption fundriaser! So 95% of the store’s revenue goes to our travel fund.
  3. 5% of revenues (ok, so it’s a little more than that!) are donated to Vulnerable Children Society. We actually sponsor an extra child each onth, which is more than 5% of the revenue, but what the heck! It’s a wonderful cuase!!

Magic Hair Elixir


I have received so many requests for this recipe since our old blog went off-line – so here it is. Since I posted the recipe in 2010, it’s become a community staple product!

I created this hair elixir for my girls African hair as a gel replacement, so I could get a grip while doing their braids, and to keep their tresses tidy when styled. It keeps my girls’ hair is gorgeous condition, protecting their hair in braids. I apply a little at the base of each braid as I style their hair.

You can make it more as a conditioning product or as a holding product – the ingredient to add or subtract is beeswax. If you have more wax, it will hold braids longer and protect them better from the elements, but the product becomes stiff and needs to be warmed before use. You also need to periodically strip their hair with apple cider vinegar if you use more beeswax than my recipe. BUT, if you make it with my ratios, you should have a malleable product at room temperature, and your child’s hair shouldn’t need more than a good shampoo between styles. If you simply want a conditioning product without any hold, you could leave out the beeswax all together.


Have fun making your own Magic Hair Elixir!

My Magic Hair Elixir

You can make any amount of this product – if you make it in a jar, for example, then the “1/4” measure is a 1/4 of a jar.

  • 1/4 beeswax
    I get mine at the farmer’s market or local organic honey farm. It smells so heavenly, and is very inexpensive.
  • 1/4 coconut or shea butter
    Both work great. 100% butters are available at your local health food and most grocery stores. I buy the organic coconut butter most often. Who needs pesticides on coconuts? Note that shea butter hardens more than coconut, so you might need to adjust your ratios or warm up before use.
  • 1/2 oil (olive or sweet almond are good)
    The trick is you can’t use any oil that needs to be stored in the fridge after opening. I use organic sweet almond oil that comes in large bottles from the health food store.

Melt all the 3 ingredients together in a jar over water, or in the microwave. The wax will melt last – careful not to burn yourself with the oil! As it cools, stir several times so it doesn’t separate. Store at room temperature so it is ready to use. If it is too hard, then warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave before use… or use more almond oil next time!