Nailah Clay, owner of Koumani Holistic Hair Designs. (Courtesy Photo)

Washington, D.C. native Nailah Clay is more than a hair stylist. “I consider myself a holistic hair designer,” she told the AFRO on Sept. 8. While taming kinks and curls for natural hair clients, Clay stresses the importance of healthy lifestyle habits and mentalities so that clients can live their “whole” selves.

Coming from a long line of hair stylists and barbers, Clay opened Koumani Holistic Hair Designs in 2000. Her private studio in Columbia Heights has become a hit for its intimate setting. “It allows my clients the comfort to say what they need to say, to offer their truth, and to be receptive to the process,” said Clay.

When she transitioned from chemically relaxed to natural hair in 1993, it wasn’t trendy where she was, but she had an example close to home. “My mother always wore her hair short and typically natural,” said Clay. “So I was very comfortable with exploring all those different realms and frequencies of living with natural hair and finding a more holistic way to live – even as a teenager.”

Over two decades later as the natural hair movement awakens in Black women across the country, Clay said she couldn’t be more pleased. “I am grateful that there is a mass movement to give all walks of life and social economic backgrounds comfort and solidarity in exploring a journey back to their natural selves and people can feel at ease to a certain degree that they have a network of support and a plethora of information, resources and products to live in tune naturally,” said Clay.

When she isn’t working with clients oneon-one, Clay can be found styling models at fashion shows and speaking at national conferences about natural hair care. Koumani models have been featured in Essence Magazine’s street style hair blog.

Clay offers products such as organic foods, tonic beverages, skin and scalp creams, and body scrubs. “The offerings of Koumani Holistic really speaks to more than how we look, but also how we feel and how we take care of ourselves and preserve ourselves,” she said.

This fall, Clay will expand her brand to offer Good and Plenty products in Mt. Reiner, Maryland. “What I enjoy most about my job is helping people to see themselves in a different way and to explore the tools that are around them to live higher and feel better,” she said.

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