By Coshandra Dillard
Toyia Jordan and Chemeka Bristol began a venture that they hope not only brings style, but also pride in ancestral history to East Texans. They created Faizah Morowa, selling afrocentric head wraps.
Faizah means “victorious” in Arabic and Swahili, and Morowa means “queen” in West Africa.
Jordan decided on the names to reference a look of regalness and style that had been prevalent in African nations for centuries.
“There is so much history behind the head wrap,” Jordan said. “I was just in awe. It’s a rich history.”
A head wrap is more than just a piece of fabric draped on the head. It carries with it symbols that are steeped in history and ancient culture. Head wraps originated in sub-Saharan Africa, and was used to communicate status in the community and a place in a person’s life. In the United States, enslaved women wore headwraps as it was required as a mark of enslavement. Descendents would later shy away from the accessory, because of the association with the stereotype of the “black mammy.” But black women later began to embrace head wraps as a way to reconnect with their African heritage.
Questions still linger about the appropriate time and place to wear headwraps, but like any other accessories, the time is always right, the women said.
Bristol, 37, had been wearing the wraps for a few years, and grew up seeing her aunt and mother wear them as well.
“It’s just like wearing a necklace or a watch,” Bristol said. “In African culture, depending on how big and its colors, it’s your place in the community.”
For example, purple and golds represent royalty. Big flowing wraps represent prestige.
Learning how to create a style with wraps can be tricky. That’s why the women are offering a free instructional event from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday in the auditorium at the Tyler Public Library, 201 S College Ave.
“It’s like you’re wearing a crown. I know I’m a queen but I really feel like a queen when I wear it.”
While there are hundreds of ways to wrap, roll and tie the headpiece, there is no definitive way to wear a head wrap. Sometimes, it’s just trial by error. At Monday’s demonstration, people are free to bring their own wraps to experiment.
“You become one with the wrap,” Bristol said. “There is no wrong way with the wrap. A lot of the styles happen by mistake.”
In addition to sprucing up a wardrobe, headwraps can serve as a way to protect the hair while transitioning from relaxed to natural, or just giving hair a break.
“I feel it’s for anybody,” Jordan said. “It’s like you’re wearing a crown. I know I’m a queen but I really feel like a queen when I wear it.”
Jordan wears wraps in an office setting at work often.
“It’s all in how you wear it and how you present it,” she said.
Wraps come in a variety of colors, patterns and fabrics. Lengths are as long as two yards, and head wraps are available for small children. The women get wraps from a Dallas-Fort Worth area retailer and cost $15 to $20, depending on the fabric.
IF YOU GO
What: Faizah Morowa Head Wrap Instructional
When: 4 to 6 p.m. Monday
Where: Tyler Public Library auditorium, 201 S College Ave.
Info: To order, visit faizahmorowawraps.bigcartel.com. Learn more on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.