Movement Leader Vijaiam Wants You To Start A Curly Revolution Where You Live

Viji, @CurlyHeavenSG

“My goal is for Singapore to be recognized. We have a curly community that exists here and we need your products, we need your education. It’s not about a particular brand that I’m working with, it’s more about helping make Singapore be recognized.”

Vijaiam, Co-Founder of Mane Heaven SG

Based in Singapore, Vijaiam, also known as Viji, is the Tamil Co-Founder of Mane Heaven SG and Creator of @CurlyHeavenSG with a focus on providing greater access to curly hair products and education in Singapore.

In this edition of HEADLINER, Rosie Chuong sits down with Viji to talk about her HAIR HISTORY, and why she wants you to start a curly revolution wherever you are in the world.⁠

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On her HAIR HISTORY and experimentations…

“Growing up my mom didn’t know what to do with my hair. I always sported a very tomboy, kind of short hairdo all the way until I was in primary school (6-12 years old). I was very into sports. Having curly hair and being into sports was difficult for me to handle . All the girls in my team had really straight hair and I was so jealous of them. I felt like they never had to do anything to their hair it was just so perfect even after playing a game! I had this idea in me that when I became a teenager, I wanted to have straight hair.”

“I never really hated my curls, I just didn’t know how to manage it. When I was about 16, I transitioned back to curly hair. That lasted about 1-2 years. In Singapore, it’s very hard to find curly products here.”

“When my hair started to grow, I had to constantly re-bond and my growth was very slow. So then I went into extensions. I did extensions twice and that also caused severe hair loss. My extensions lasted about a year.”

“I also used to color my hair. Then I decided to bleach my hair. The thing is, me staying away from color is just so difficult! I was always so attracted to having hair color in my hair. Now I realize you can have colored curly hair without having to damage it.”

On using social media as a personal development tool…

“When I say that I’m an introvert, I just need time to get comfortable with people. I’m not the kind of person that will randomly go up to strangers and say hello! You probably see me talking a lot to you because I’m quite comfortable with you. It’s only at the start, but once you get to know me you’ll realize that I actually talk a lot!”

“Social media has helped me a lot in my personal growth and has put me out there. When I first started, I had a lot of doubt in me that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Social media helped me talk to all kinds of people from different parts of the world. It makes me improve more on my social skills.”

“When you’re using social media to record videos, create content, there’s quite a lot of skills you need to have. You need to have the ability to speak, to translate the information you’d like to give to others in the most correct way possible. If you’re going to be limited to what you talk about, then you’re not going to be able to give all the information that you’ll want to give to others.”

“When I make a video, I watch it and I ask for opinions and I can see where I can improve and then I start working on it. In my first video, I realized I was very conscious and I realized I needed to speak more because there’s a reason why I’m doing this. Knowing that I’m the one in front of the camera made it easier for me to speak.”

On developing necessary partnerships in the curly community…

“What I’m doing now is more like what I want to do and not full time yet, but exploring it. In Singapore, there’s still a lot of education hurdles to go through.We really need to educate the community in Singapore first before we’re able to sell full time.”

“I’m actually a full time Accountant. Being in finance, sometimes your job is never ending. I always put my day job as my priority first. Sometimes if you see me lacking in videos it’s because I’m prioritizing my full time job.”

Maha, my partner, I’m very lucky to have found her. Initially when I first started my page, I was doing this myself. I needed a push and motivation. Then I found Maha! I actually know her from childhood, we have two mutual friends. Last year, we were doing videos on our own accounts, we came across each other and we started chatting. After a month, we started the shop. It happened all just like that, probably because our vision was the same. If there’s any problems that came in between, we would immediately address it. We fit so well. That’s how this thing started growing.”

“When I say I’m an introvert, Maha is an extrovert! In a way, social media helped me come out of my introvert personality. I would also say that Maha played a big part in it.”

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On filling the gap in Singapore through Mane Heaven SG…

“A few things that I found missing in Singapore: one is the curly education. Second is the products that we can use. Those are the main things that we focus on. When we started focusing on education, a lot of people began asking me where to get the products. That was their main question.

So my main task was to get the products to them. But there were a lot of things missing in Singapore compared to other parts of the world. Like a proper salon where people could get a good haircut. Maha does curl coaching where she coaches one on one with people and recommends products that they can use. Haircuts, products and personalized coaching, those are the things missing in the community.”

On her favorite moments with customers…

“I have a lot of good experiences to reminisce on. The people who get to use the products, many of them have comments like:

  • “You know, after I came back home, I tried the shampoo and it was refreshing and it made my whole day.”
  • “My hair fall is drastically reduced.”
  • “I can wear my hair curly now, I’m so proud to be curly.”

Those kinds of comments make me really happy that I play a small part in their curly transitioning. There are small, little things that makes you realize that no matter the hard work that you put in, you are actually doing something that’s useful and you’re helping someone out there.”

“At the end of the day when I’m doubting myself about whether I’m doing the right thing, those little things make me feel really content and happy.”

On the next stage of growth in business…

“Now that we’re bringing in products through our shop, I still feel like the price difference is astronomical. We’re still paying a price difference. If you shop online on our store, it’s not the same as paying for a product in the US. I feel as if, over the long term this MUST be changed, the plan is to get products as affordable as possible.”

“Another thing is, I’ll just touch base on it, it’s something about getting curly cuts in Singapore and that is something that I will be working on, but that will be revealed closer to the date.”

“When I first started my page, the first question was products, but the most asked question was “Viji where do you cut your hair?!” In the US and some other countries, they have a lot of curly cuts, like the RëZOcut. In Singapore, when you go to a salon, the first thing they ask you is, “Do you want to re-bond your hair?” There is no one that really knows how to cut your hair. I think the haircut is very important as much as you use the products or the techniques that you apply. The haircut gives you the motivation of having your hair curly.”

On what her dream project or collaboration looks like…

“I take pride in every brand that speaks about what I do and all the products that I’m sharing because I believe that everyone plays a part. My goal is for Singapore to be recognized. We have a curly community that exists here and we need your products, we need your education. It’s not about a particular brand that I’m working with, it’s more about helping make Singapore be recognized.”

A Selection of Online Shops Providing Greater Access to Curly Hair Products in Surrounding Countries Near Asia

On advice for anybody starting their healthy hair journey…

“Have patience with your hair. Lack of products is outside of what I could control, but for me, what I needed to have more of was patience. My hair grew really slow. I couldn’t stand what it looked like when it was short. So if I had patience to grow my hair out, I think I would never have gone through re-bonding my hair, extensions, all these things.”

“For anyone starting, have patience with your hair. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else on social media and think that we are getting different results compared to you. Everybody’s transition journey is different. Have patience with your hair and journey.”

“For the products that you’re getting, read the ingredients, find out your hair type and then buy those products. Don’t simply buy everything. If you’re not using the right products or using the right technique, it’s not going to help you. Education comes from within, you need to educate yourself before you get all these products and use it on you.”

“Sometimes people rely on another influencer to tell them what to do. You have to understand what your hair tells you, how your hair feels and what products work for you. Have patience and you will get there.”

We built this MANE STAGE for YOU: the MANE act, the MANE attraction.

Now, it’s time we take center stage and speak up about our stories. That’s why we’re excited to unveil our content series, HEADLINER featuring individuals doing great things in our community.

The spotlight’s on you now.