South African Sister Creates Swim Caps for Big, Black Hair

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Swim caps that leave your hair wet are infuriating.

Thankfully, South African native Nomvuyo Treffers was just annoyed enough to design Swimma Caps in 2016,  a company that sells caps for swimming and showering that come in different sizes to support big hair. Think full afros, thick, dookie braids or long dreads. The caps fit snug around the edges, but are roomy at the top to hold your hair. Sizes include “afro-superlarge, afro-midi, and afro-regular.” They even have options for little ones with big hair.

We caught up with the photographer and entrepreneur to learn more Swimma and the mission behind it.

What was the light bulb moment that made you want to start a swim cap company? 

Treffers with her daughters.

My frustration of not getting a cap that could fit over my locs had been brewing for years, since my daughters were small. I kept looking for a solution for myself until the ‘light bulb’ moment of thinking, ‘hang on!’ I am not the only one. It cannot be just my daughters and I who are faced with this issue. I was surrounded by people like me, especially in South Africa, my country. I decided that I will risk it all and pursue Swimma. To say I’m glad I did would be an understatement.

Do the caps really keep your hair dry?  How is Swimma different? 

Swimma swim caps are made of silicone, which is waterproof. We have many different sizes because we know that there is no such thing as “one size fits all” and everyone should have their perfect fit. From all reviews we have received, and from my own experience, with a correct, snug fit around your head, it should keep one’s hair dry. Head shapes, the way one wears the cap, and hairstyles vary so I generally do say that one “may” get wetness around the edges. And if anyone’s hair does NOT fit into our largest one, I will make one especially for them!

How does a customer maintain them? 

To care for Swimma caps, rinse with clean water after every swim. Keep away from direct sunlight, hang to dry or wipe with a dry cloth before storing them in their zip lock bag.

What’s your mission behind Swimma? If it can get more of us in the water, that would be a win on many levels, yes?

Certainly, the mission is to cater for the previously ignored market, which I am part of. Size definitely counts and more of us can now enjoy water with fitting caps, whether it’s swimming or taking a shower. I need to stress that Swimma is not only for women but also boys and men. This mission is not limited to swimming or showering. While Swimma is a business, we aim to find solutions for those who have been ignored until now both from a commercial point of view and because it simply is the right thing to do.

What was the greatest challenge launching this business? 

Getting the idea into practice took trial and error. Simply taking a swimming cap and making it bigger is not enough; the manufacturing process is important as many things affect the final quality of the product. What looked right wasn’t necessarily good enough. I am a photographer, and I did all this in between being a mother, wife and shooting so time was a real struggle. It’s never easy to start a new business. One needs finance, permits, premises, etc. Those things do not just appear from thin air and a lot of work went into all of that.

What joy do you get out of it? 

The countless people from here at home, South Africa and from different parts of the world, who celebrate Swimma. People want and choose to support Swimma instead of supporting companies that have previously ignored the market. Nothing is more satisfying than getting emails from people who are thanking me!

Can you share a little about your background?

I was born and grew up in a township in Grahamstown, South Africa. Townships are segregated urban areas that were reserved for Black people during the apartheid era. While thankfully geographical segregation as a policy and law is behind us, in reality the townships remain populated by Black people. Cape Town has been home for the last 18 years. I was raised by great parents with little means but abundant love and I’m big on family. I treasure quality time with loved ones. I’m a mother two girls and a step-mother to one teenage boy and wife to my best friend.

Lastly, what’s next?

Swimma intends to launch other products that will fill a similar void. More to come!

FYI: Swimma makes international shipments. Go here to check out the variety of products.

Stacy Julien is editor in-chief of Crush Magazine, and would definitely need a Swimma cap for her long locs.

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