South Africa’s 50 ways of headwrapping

There are many ways to wear a doek, or duku – an African headwrap. In fact, South African entrepreneur Princess Ofentse Maluleke can show you up to 50 different, fashionable styles. She recently published a tutorial book, 50 Shades of Duku, after she realised many of her customers had trouble tying their doeks.

“My friend and I sell headwraps at the market. Customers would say they would love to wear a headwrap but don’t know how to tie it,” she explains.

“You get videos on YouTube on how to tie a headwrap, but when you have several minutes to get ready in the morning, you don’t have time to look up a website.”

Princess Ofentse Maluleke 2Princess Ofentse Maluleke, who sells her own shea butter and wrote a book on how to style an African headwrap, says she has been an entrepreneur all her life. (Image: Taji Shop, Shopify)

The writing process

It prompted her to write a book about different styles. “At the time I started, I only had 30 styles. The other 20 I made up – I mixed styles and created new ones. It really pushed my mental boundaries.”

Maluleke says she wanted to do a good number of styles. “I thought 20 was too little. I wanted a significant number, because I wanted it to be like a klap (punch). I felt 50 was enough, not too much to burn me out.”

She started writing her book in April this year and finished it by the end of May. The electronic book version has been available on her website since 31 May. “My aim is to write at least 10 books in my lifetime about different things.”

Her support

Her book is sold as an e-book, as a print book or as a combination book and headwrap. “I have had Canadians and American tourists saying that my combo was a great gift to take back home.”

Maluleke, a business science degree graduate, says she is very excited about this project. “I feel like I am at the right place in my life.”

Her family is proud of her achievements. “They are very supportive. My brother, for instance, funded my first batch of books. My mom, Sally Tsipe, is distributing the books in KwaZulu-Natal and my sister, Omolemo Tsipe, distributes them in Cape Town.”

Her husband and a friend helped her to finish the book.

Part-time entrepreneur

As the chief executive officer of the Taji Shop, Maluleke says she has been a part-time entrepreneur all her life. “In high school I was known as the ‘Popcorn Lady’ and in university I would redesign old clothes to sell. I taught myself to sew. I started as a full-time entrepreneur earlier this year.”

It began with selling her own organic shea butter body cream. “I get the shea butter raw from Ghana and add different oils to make the product easier to use. You can use it for your skin and hair.”

Her duku parties

Maluleke, who lives in Johannesburg, is often invited to women’s parties such as baby showers to teach her duku styles. “I do one-on-ones and small groups. Showing a couple of duku styles is a great educational element at women’s events.”

In many African cultures, a young bride wears a duku as a sign of respect, because they cover their heads, she explains. “I am also a young bride.”

But you don’t have to be a young bride to wear a duku. “Also, you can make it look fashionable.”

There are also no-nos: In an interview on radio station Power FM 987, Maluleke warned that wearing a headwrap tied too tightly could cause a “scarf headache”. Also, matching a doek to your outfit could be done wrong. “Rather stick to neutrals and go wild on your
doek.”

Another tip is to use an under-scarf – some fabric or another headwrap – to add volume to your doek.

Maluleke also hosts her own duku parties where her doek combos are sold, and she teaches her audience how to use a T- shirt instead of a headwrap to create a doek style.

Next up, she plans to take her parties all over South Africa.

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